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Aug 02

Jamie Saam leads Batavia MainStreet to success

Posted on August 2, 2017 at 10:54 AM by Christopher Cudworth

On July 22 as a gathering of more than 500 people entered the event known as Cocktails in the Park, the familiar figure of Executive Director Jamie Saam could be seen buzzing from site to site within the venue. Checking on ticket takers. Carrying ice in bags to the drink makers. Pausing to problem solve with her staff of on-the-spot volunteers doing most of the work. 

This was Jamie Saam in her element. Making things happen. Helping people enjoy themselves. And bringing fun and interest to downtown Batavia. 

That might be serve as her job description. And when asked recently how she’s been able to deliver so much growth and success along with the Board and staff of Batavia Main Street, she paused to consider and admitted, “I don’t know if I could do this anywhere else. I’m from here. So I want it to be great.” 

But when pressed to think deeper about what makes Batavia Main Street work, she does have an answer. “I think it’s the partnerships, and getting people to collaborate. If I were to move to some town, like some city in Arizona where there is no town center, I’d focus on getting people to work together. Find common ground.” 

She’s also not afraid to take some risks and deviate from predictability. “We used to run Cocktails in the Park as this sort of formal gala,” she shared. “And that worked. It’s a successful model. But I thought, ‘This doesn’t work for everyone. I want it to work for everyone.’ So we dropped the price of the tickets to $25 and made it accessible for anyone that wants to come. So we still get people dressing up, but we also have people in their tee shirts and summer stuff having fun.” 

Even after a successful event like Cocktails in the Park, Jamie and her close cohorts at Batavia Main Street can be found picking apart the way things worked. “We do that with every single event,” she smiles. But one can see the analysis wheels turning as she considers all the things BMS does in a year. The list is both focused and diverse including; 

Artisan’s Collective: Third Saturdays from June to October at Farmer’s Market

Batavia Farmer’s Market: Every Saturday June to October

Batavia House Walk: Sunday, September 25

Batfest: Saturday, October 22

Block Party: Sunday, September 3

Celebrate Success: TBD annually

Downtown Egg Hop: 2018

Octoberfest: October 6th and 7th

Holiday Market: November 11 and 12
WellBatavia: 2018

All the events and activities of Batavia Main Street have the purpose of bringing people to downtown Batavia, which serves as both a backdrop and a focal point for drawing visitors Ito a relationship with the community and businesses. “We try to do events every year that people can plan around,” Saam notes. “But we also like when people drop in and say, ‘This is great. Let’s hang around. Our business model in many of our events is to make it cheap and easy for people to enjoy themselves. And we welcome everybody.” 

This may be the Secret Sauce of Mainstreet success: accessibility. But Saam also invests quite a bit of time getting to know the business owners, and making introductions. “We want to help businesses find ways to work together,” she says. “And bring people to town. But you know, there are a lot of businesses that bring people to town without our help. They have their own clientele and some of those folks travel really far to get what these businesses have to offer. In that case, it’s our job to give them a reason to come back just to have fun.” 

Jamie Saam picOne of Jamie Saam’s personal favorite events is Batfest, the annual opportunity for families to visit downtown Batavia around fall activities such as the Pumpkin Roll. “I don’t know why,” she laughs. “I just love that event.” 

Perhaps it is symbolic of how Saam herself keeps things rolling year round. She and her cohort Cathy McNally also pride themselves on creating significant marketing opportunities for the sponsors who support Batavia Main Street events. “We connect them with real customers,” she asserts. “And I can’t tell you how many times people have told me they appreciate getting to know these businesses and find people they can trust. That’s what Batavia Main Street is all about.” 



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