First National Bank of South Miami recently hosted the swearing in of the 2013-2014 executive board officers of the Red Sunset Merchant Association. Vice Mayor Josh Liebman led the ceremonial transfer of leadership for an organization that has promoted local business and community since 1962.
Incoming Executive Board leadership is: President Elect Karla Cooper of American Chariots, Vice President Rene Aldonza of FNBSM, Secretary Hans Huseby of FootWorks, and Treasurer Francesco Balli of Shula’s 347.
President-Elect Karla Cooper has worked in the area for nearly 20 years as partner of American Chariots Auto Brokerage Firm along with Judy Kilburn. Cooper and Kilburn have started tackling some of the organization’s initiatives such as neighborhood beautification.
“Sometimes as a merchant you have to stand up and do it yourself,” said Cooper. She and Judy, along with their gardener Richard, spent the better part of the past weekend planting bromeliads from Judy’s home garden into the planters at the Blue Mall. They also re-painted the peeling facade door frames to offer a more wel- coming entrance to patrons.
“Beautification starts in your own home and office,” said the former Army Sargent and disabled veteran who served seven years of active duty. “You can’t always wait for local government or a landlord to do it for you. Judy is fired up and we are leading by example.”
Cooper has served on the RSMA board for years and contributed to area studies such as the quest to maximize valet parking spaces for visitors in 2011. Her down to earth approachability and charisma precede here and she appears well appreciated by her colleagues and peers.
After the swearing in ceremony, members like Isabel A. Merritt of Isabel Fine Home Accessories walked up to Cooper to say “Congratulations Karla, I will help you in any way I can.”
Mayor Philip Stoddard was present during the swearing in and said he looks forward to working with President Cooper on new projects such as the Business Improvement District (BID) marketing plan now in its discussion stage. “Karla is great to work with,” said Stoddard. “I’m very glad she has taken on the task.”
“I am very much looking forward to continuing to work with RSMA as I have been doing all along on a variety of issues,” said Stoddard. “The creation of the BID is one of the initiatives that seems to have caught fire with the merchants. I hope we can make progress on it this year.”
RSMAhas created two social media sites to assist with marketing businesses: shopsouthmiami. com and Red Sunset Merchant Association on Facebook. “We paid a lot to get that done and it is a feature open to any merchant or friend of South Miami to use to help bring us together,” said Cooper.
“RSMA has a great legacy of working with the merchants and I am happy to be a part of that tradition. We will continue to work with local government on projects like beautification, transportation, and parking challenges as we continue to support our signature annual events such as Halloween Safe Streets, Parade of Elves, our famous local art festivals, Chamber South events, and any other event that local merchants produce.”
The next general RSMA meeting is scheduled for October 9 at the First National Bank of South Miami. Refreshments will be provided. All are welcome to attend and encouraged to volunteer for a full schedule of fall holiday events hosted by RSMA.
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