Felicidades San Benito y Gracias a Los Miembros de IDA

International Downtown Association San BenitoIDA recently shared in the inaugural celebration of the first-ever special district in Central America.  The San Benito Special Assessment District in San Salvador, El Salvador flipped the switch last Monday night to illuminate the corridor and mark the completion of their first capital improvement project as told in this local news story.

The significance of the event is enormous.  Three years ago, a team of IDA members started working with property owners, government officials, and stakeholders to see if a BID was possible. The team was comprised of David International Downtown Association San BenitoFeehan, John Lambeth, Lorena Parker, Liliane De Geus, Larisa Ortiz Pu-Folkes, and David Diaz. Through financial support from the Inter-American Development Bank, the team ventured into new territory to understand the legal, social, and cultural fit for management districts in a new country.  This IDA leadership group inspired dedicated property owners and garnered the support of San Salvador’s visionary Mayor Norman Quijano.  By providing the needed tools, nurturing a culture of trust, and guiding the stakeholders through challenging discussions we now see the successful establishment of the San Benito District.  In the October 2011 report, Civitas Advisors documents the approach which now marks the latest highlight along the historical timeline of the downtown management industry.

International Downtown Association San BenitoThe work in San Benito also signals the importance of IDA’s mission to connect a diverse group of practitioners.  San Benito is just beginning to take shape.  Helping establish the district meant sending a group of bilingual consulting members to El Salvador.  Still, many challenges lay ahead for Jorge Iraheta, Executive Director of the Zona Rosa Corporation (shown left) who leads the ongoing work with the District. IDA needs to be better prepared to connect Jorge and his Administrative Manager Gilberto Aguire with experienced Spanish speaking professionals and IDA members who also serve Latino communities.

Central American and the Caribbean cities continue to show interest in establishing professional downtown management districts and IDA member expertise will be needed to help establish, grow, and enhance these districts through the next 20 years.  I invite you to send me an email to identify yourself as a bilingual IDA professional.  Provide me with your contact information and share with me your downtown experience.  IDA is a community of professionals that learns from one another.  Join me in welcoming Jorge, Gilberto, and everyone working hard to make a difference in San Salvador.

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