By Stephanie Choate
As Williston gets closer to its 250th anniversary, its founders would hardly recognize it. The town has grown into a bustling center of business and entrepreneurship, with approximately 1,400 businesses.
Now, those businesses have a new platform to connect with each other.
Williston Publishing and Promotions has announced the launch of the Williston Area Business Association. The Williston Observer, which is owned by the same company, is WABA’s media sponsor.
“WABA is a much-needed local organization to meaningfully connect businesses and organizations in a way that hasn’t been done before,” said Williston Publishing owner Marianne Apfelbaum. “It’s a hybrid of a business association, a chamber of commerce and something new.”
Apfelbaum said that WABA’s structure is built around concepts that business owners said were important to them.
“We took the time to get a lot of feedback from business owners before we put together the membership benefits,” she said. “We’ll be constantly evolving to meet the needs of our members, based on their needs and input.”
“This is very much a grassroots concept,” said Sue Duke, an account executive with Williston Publishing. “WABA is a ‘for the people, by the people’ group, where everybody’s contribution makes the entity.”
Before its official launch on Nov. 15, WABA had more than 20 members, including restaurants, gyms, banks, nonprofits and more.
“I think it’s really important to be a part of the fabric of the community and participate as much as we can,” said Cindy Morgan, marketing director at New England Federal Credit Union, one of WABA’s community partners. “It’s a great connection with the business community in Williston.”
Mary Steiger, president of PT360, one of WABA’s community sponsors, said the opportunity to network with local businesses, and possibly “collaborate on some activities to benefit the town” is one of the most valuable benefits for her business.
“Networking face-to-face, knowing people and getting to know the value of other businesses is huge,” Steiger said. “I’d much rather patronize someone in my community who may offer a talent or a business option than, say, someone who doesn’t live nearby.”
Aside from an online platform where business owners can promote their business to members and consumers (www.willistonaba.com), WABA will host four member events per year, two networking-focused and two informational workshops.
“Everyone said time is of vital importance, and they don’t want to have to spend a lot of time to reap WABA’s benefits,” Apfelbaum said. “WABA offers concrete, meaningful, useful and substantial benefits and ways to connect that don’t take a lot of business owners’ time.”
The impetus to start WABA came from Apfelbaum’s own experience as a business owner.
Apfelbaum and her husband, Paul, started Williston Publishing nearly 20 years ago and have lived in the community even longer.
“We have deep roots in this community and we want to help it grow in a positive, community-oriented way,” she said.
Apfelbaum said she noticed a missing resource in the community.
“We felt there was a lack of a more local way to connect with and promote businesses,” she said. “The chambers are great, but they’re a different animal. This is just a more powerful way to interact.”
As a media sponsor, the Observer will publish monthly WABA updates in its business section, The Hub, as well as run weekly promotional ads.
“A major benefit is that through the partnership with the Observer, we’ll be getting exposure for the organization on a weekly basis,” Apfelbaum said.
WABA membership is open to businesses and non-profit organizations in Williston and surrounding communities. Having a way to connect with other business owners and professionals will not only create a sense of community, it will help individual businesses be more successful, Apfelbaum said.
“When you get to know people outside of the normal realm of an office and you learn about them, it fosters goodwill, it fosters a willingness and desire to help their businesses succeed so that everybody wins.”
For more information, visit www.willistonaba.com or call Marianne Apfelbaum at 872-9000, ext. 18.
NEW WABA MEMBERS
New England Federal Credit Union
NEFCU is a member-owned credit union serving communities in six counties in northwestern Vermont.
Oil ‘N’ Go
Locally owned, Oil ‘N’ Go offers “Vermont’s Original Oil Change,” as well as full car care services, with locations in South Burlington and Essex Junction.
PT360 is Vermont’s first physical therapy cooperative, providing an array of treatment techniques.
Williston Insurance has been serving the Williston Community since 1967.
Adams Apple Orchard & Farm Market
Adams is a local apple orchard and market providing produce, annuals, Vermont products and more.
Allstate Insurance: John Coburn Agency
John Coburn Agency provides sales and service of all Allstate Insurance products.
Alzheimer’s Association, Vermont
The Alzheimer’s Association is a non-profit dedicated to eliminating Alzheimer’s disease, and supporting those affected by Alzheimer’s.
Bagels Plus is a family owned and operated bagel bakery and café.
Blodgett Bath Showplace
Blodgett Bath Showplace supplies kitchen and bath products, as well as design consulting services.
A real estate professional since 1985, Carol Audette is a lifelong resident of the area and a certified residential specialist.
Greater Burlington YMCA
The Greater Burlington YMCA provides programs and events to nurture kids, promote healthy living and foster community.
Green Mountain Habitat for Humanity ReStore
The ReStore sells donated home goods and building supplies to raise money for local Habitat for Humanity projects.
Guy’s Farm and Yard
Guy’s Farm and Yard, locally owned and operated, offers pet, farm and yard supplies with locations in Williston, Morrisville and Montpelier.
Monty’s Old Brick Tavern
A full-service restaurant offering dinner, Sunday brunch and live music, and is part of the Vermont Fresh Network.
Natural Provisions is a grocery store providing natural and organic products, produce and prepared foods.
NBT Bank is an independent community bank with Vermont locations in Williston and Burlington.
Northland Janitorial works to make Vermont greener and cleaner one building at a time.
The Rehab Gym is a specialty gym offering preventative and rehabilitative care.
Simply Divine Café
Simply Divine Café serves light fare breakfast and lunch and provides catering services.
Triad Temporary Services
Triad provides short-term and long-term staffing services for a broad spectrum of occupations.
TCE—Trudell Consulting Engineers
TCE is a multi-disciplinary consulting firm specializing in site/civil engineering services.
Williston Community Food Shelf
The Williston Community Food Shelf is a non-profit organization dedicated to eliminating hunger in the town of Williston and surrounding areas.
Williston Workwear, locally owned and operated, provides business clothing, medical uniforms, outdoor gear, footwear and more.