As area grows, group expands, too

Pasadena Business Association claims 292 members as it celebrates 20 years


When several dozen businesses formed the Pasadena Business Association in 1986, the aim was to provide them with networking opportunities and a voice in the political process.

Two decades later, the group has 292 members and a much broader mission. The group works to strengthen community ties, provide scholarships and heighten civic awareness.

Since 1990, the group has awarded more than $50,000 in scholarships to Pasadena High School seniors. And each year, the PBA prints 6,000 community guides with listings of member businesses, schools, and government contacts.

On March 26, the group will mark its 20th anniversary with a Bull & Oyster Roast at Kurtz's Beach. The event runs from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. Ticket prices range from $20 to $45. Proceeds will support the association's scholarship fund.

Pasadena, traditionally a working class community, has grown in recent years as expensive homes have been built, and a Giant supermarket and 36-hole golf course have opened.

The association's programs for the central Anne Arundel community - which, according to the 2000 Census, had about 12,000 residents - also benefit member businesses.

"Our businesses participate in our projects and gain clients and get to know their customers," said Maureen Agro, the organization's treasurer.

"We're very involved in the community and we're influential."

Agro said that the nonpartisan group meets with local governments and tracks bills. It is focusing on the possible effect of a state bill that would require Wal-Mart to spend more on employee health care.

"It could open the door to make everyone provide health care," said Tom Redmond, the PBA's legislative chairman. Legislators "could mandate something we really can't afford."

Redmond also said that member organizations are lobbying for legislation that would allow the PBA and similar associations to form health care cooperatives.

In addition to a legislative committee, the PBA also has an education committee and works closely with schools to mentor students. During the holidays, the PBA donates toys, food and clothes to needy families.

"People who own businesses here live here," Redmond said. "We strive to help, and we give back to the community because what we put in we get back in every way."

In the next few years, as the PBA expands, the goal is to break ground for a building.

"We have been really successful," Agro said. "We really contribute a lot to the community. I'm not sure people realize how much."

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