The Business Association of West Parkside (BAWP) was established in 1987 and has had the tenacity to survive as a volunteer organization for 26 years.  In July, I had the great pleasure to be hired as the Executive Director of BAWP.

Q: Can you tell us a little about yourself?

A: I am originally from the Valley Forge area, but I grew up in Vienna, Austria. After eight years of living overseas with my parents, who worked with refugees, I moved to Seattle, Washington to attend Seattle Pacific University. I received a BA in Sociology.Five years ago I moved to Philadelphia to be near my now husband. Last Spring I graduated with a MSW from Temple University, where I interned with BAWP before being hired as the executive director.

Q: What has your role been as Executive Director of BAWP?

As Executive Director of the Business Association of West Parkside I have the unique opportunity to look at all the accomplishments of the businesses and residents in this community and help interpret them to guide the conversationand move projects forward.  Early on the leaders of BAWP understood that for their businesses to succeed the community needed to be heard. Therefore BAWP has had a very close partnership with the Parkside Association of Philadelphia. That relationship has led to the streets being striped, bleachers stored on Parkside Ave moved, and the crumbling sidewalk along Parkside Ave. to be turned into a promenade. BAWP advocated for the Please Touch Museum move, the construction of the WestPark Town Center, the move of businesses such as Cintas to the Industrial Park, and restoration of Concourse Lake. Advocating for these was only a portion of what BAWP has done, during these efforts BAWP offered regular opportunities for Businesses to network, make connections, and grow their businesses.

Q: What has BAWP been doing for the businesses in our neighborhoods?

A: In the last six months BAWP’s Board of Directors have been taking time to reflect on their successes and their vision for the future.  Board Members and I have also been able to meet with local officials, the police department, Licenses & Inspection, and the Commerce Department to discuss concerns about safety in the neighborhood and illegal dumping.  We have sponsored and expanded two annual events, the BAWP Recognition Awards Night and the Holiday Stop-By.  We have hosted numerous meetings and opportunities for our growing membership to meet, network, and promote their business.  BAWP has been able to rekindle a relationship with PIDC to discuss the Parkside Industrial Business Park’s short and long term future.  Discussion with PIDC and the Councilman’s office have led to the continued encouragement to move forward the relocation of the Streets Department Salt Silo and new Business Developments to go along Parkside.  As the Executive Director I have been able to enjoy all the years of hard work and relationship building done by the Board of Directors of BAWP and to continue their efforts.

Q: What can we look forward to from the Business Association of West Parkside?

A: In the next six months, we anticipate a wonderful Jackie Robinson Day Celebration this year, joined by the Philadelphia Phillies. We are looking forward to working with local organizations and applying for grants to see the 52nd Street Overpass refurbished. In March, we are hosting a Gubernatorial Forum, so businesses have the opportunity to hear what candidates are planning for the state and how it might affect their businesses. There is much more in the works, so make sure to check out our website for regular updates at www.BAWPPhilly.com.

Shonte Eley