In May, Mark Dwight, founder and chief executive officer of Rickshaw Bagworks, a messenger and laptop bag, sack and sleeve manufacturer on 22nd Street, launched the Dogpatch Business Association (DBA), a nonprofit collection of enterprises located in Dogpatch and Pier 70. DBA will serve as a networking platform for companies, promote neighborhood businesses, and represent the collective interests of the commercial sector in interactions with City government, the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce, and other neighborhood business and merchant associations.
Dwight is recruiting businesses within the boundaries of Mariposa Street to the north, Cesar Chavez Street to the south, Pennsylvania Street to the west, and Pier 70 to the east. Dogpatch companies have historically been able to join the Potrero Dogpatch Merchants Association (PDMA), an alliance of establishments located in Dogpatch and Potrero Hill.
According to Dwight, Dogpatch has gained enough businesses with unique concerns to merit a separate organization. “Dogpatch has been sort of underrepresented in PDMA. I saw an opportunity that we had achieved critical mass. I really feel the time is right to have our own business association down in the flats,” he said.
Keith Goldstein, PDMA president, said he thought the split was a natural progression for Dogpatch. “There’s so many businesses opening up there. For years, PDMA was just the Potrero Hill Merchants Association. About eight or nine years ago, we changed our name to include Dogpatch. Now they have their own designation and rightfully so,” said Goldstein.
Dwight serves on the San Francisco Chamber’s board of directors. He’s president of the San Francisco Small Business Commission, which consists of seven people, four appointed by the Mayor and three by the Board of Supervisors, which oversees the City’s Office of Small Business (OSB), an information and referral source for companies. Dwight said Dogpatch isn’t a standard neighborhood to represent, lacking a main retail corridor or substantial street parking to accommodate customers.
DBA membership is open to all businesses, not only retailers, including firms that don’t have a storefront, such as biotech companies. “Traditionally, small businesses are locally-owned and independent,” said Dwight. “They are deeply rooted in the community in which they exist. Companies like biotech firms are often less deeply rooted and need to be flexible and nimble. We have totally different modes of operation and very different interests. To the extent that a venture-backed company wants to be part of the community for as long as they’re here, that’s great. We want to make membership easy.”… (more)
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