As the 35th Anniversary of CCPA approaches, I now find myself living and working in the “Burbs”, yet reflecting back on all my years in Center City.
In 1978, a small group of City Leaders formed the working group for Center City Proprietors Association. Through my recall of “Tribal Knowledge”, I am honored to share some memories about this extraordinary group, but humbly acknowledge the six people who first recognized the power and creativity of the entrepreneurial spirit, and the vitality it could bring to the city. Center City would not look the same today, without their passion and vision.
Perhaps one of my special memories was the Board Meeting called to “re-name” the group. Always referred to as “CAP”, the original group was CCAP, Center City Association of Proprietors. For anyone struggling with a name change, a subtle change is often the best, yet it took hours and hours of meetings to change the name to Center City Proprietors Association. Today, only a handful of people recall the name CAP, yet we remain its most ardent CCPA supporters.
Just as any group grows from “within”, I was invited to join CCPA by Guy Russell, a Salon owner, who suggested it would be a perfect match for my new city business, The King’s Collar Shirtmakers. I was immediately drawn to this great group, and by 1982, found myself President of The CCPA Board. Immediately struck by the importance of this wonderful business group, I too started enrolling new members, one of whom is Eugene D. McGurk, a Partner at The Raynes McCarty Law Firm. For many years, the firm hosted the Board Meetings, and today, so many years later, Gene continues to serve on the CCPA Advisory Board, and is a member of the Board Nominating Committee.
Just as you’re now hearing from me after so many years, once touched by CCPA, one rarely leaves.
When I first became a member of the group, Meryl Levitz was Executive Director, and even then, it was impossible to ignore her amazing organizational talents. These talents were quickly recognized, and Meryl, who now serves as CEO and President of GPTMC, was soon off to join The Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau. A new Executive Director search began, and Alphonse Pignataro, President of The Board and the owner of Morgan’s Restaurant at the time, offered his name for consideration. As a restaurateur, Alphonse was the driving force in the creation of The Restaurant Gala, an annual event that brought the finest restaurants together to promote their best dishes, and ultimately led to the creation of the acclaimed “The Book and The Cook” under the direction of Judy Faye. I’m clear that the extraordinary Center City restaurant footprint, as we know it today, would not have evolved without CCPA and its mission to increase the vitality of Center City Philadelphia.
By 1985, we held a “Trash Forum”, to address the cleanliness issues in the city, and in 1986, led the effort for a late shopping night on Wednesdays, which later developed into the CCD’s Make it a Night marketing promotion.
In 1987, working with Malcolm Lazin, CCPA held a Bridge Lighting event at my Society Hill apartment, and money was raised for the Lighting of The Ben Franklin Bridge, which altered the City’s skyline. 1987 also spotlighted the We The People 200 Governors’ Ball, which represented the 200th Anniversary of the U.S. Constitution. Steve Poses, as always, delivered an extraordinary event, and I remember standing under a tree, as I witnessed the fireworks and the Governors in attendance, and became emotional at its successful conclusion. Thanks to CCPA, The Governors’ Ball was the event’s biggest success.
In 1988, CCPA started championing the creation of The Center City District (CCD), and in 1989 hired a small crew to clean the sidewalk within the CCPA Boundaries. The first cleaning cart was stored at my shop, located at 260 South 16th St, just next door to Wesley Emmons, one of the first CAP members.
I was asked to join the CCD working committee, and was later honored to be a Founding Officer of this remarkable and nationally recognized group, when it formed in 1991. Today, under the brilliant leadership of Paul Levy, the CCD has been acclaimed as a national and international model for downtown business districts.
1990 brought the first pro-active solution to panhandling with the formation of the I Do Care Foundation, when The Vendor Coupon Program was introduced to address hunger and panhandling by providing coupons that could be redeemed at all Center City Food Vendors. 25,000 coupons were sold, and was a prototype for the CCD program, Make Real Change, where donated money assists the marginalized community in real ways.
A continued marketing campaign included “More to do, More to see, More than ever: Center City Philadelphia”, followed by “Center City Celebrates Style”, a yearly fashion event that honored our local fashion talents. In 1998, I felt it was time to go on to other endeavors, and met with Krista Bard, a Board Member, to explore her interest in a bigger leadership role at CCPA.
Krista is the President of Bard Advisors, a consulting group that works with entrepreneurial entities, and someone who possesses brilliant team- building skills. Krista is a multi-accomplished, bright, and creative talent, and I just KNEW she was the one to step in as President of the Board. Krista Bard led CCPA for ten years and under her able leadership, brought her own brand of marketing skills, and was responsible for shaping the numerous business forums and events that supported a healthy business climate in Center City. She introduced Lunch with the City’s Leaders, a program that brought together leaders in every field “to provide access and insight into the powers that shape our city,” and this hot ticket program continues today.
Since 2008, the CCPA Board President has been Linda Karp, President of Karp Marketing, an award-winning, Certified Woman-Owned Business, which has operated since 1983. Linda’s marketing skills continue to support CCPA programs, and its advocacy for Philadelphia’s small businesses. Kudos to Ben Frank, our Executive Director, for his humility and gentle leadership of this great group, and to its leaders; Past, Present, and Future, who have worked so hard to honor the vision of the six people who started it all, thirty five years ago. The legacy you created continues.
About Nancy Gold: Nancy Gold has been honored as an Inc. Magazine Entrepreneur of the Year, and was named by Governor Tom Ridge as One of Pennsylvania’s Best 50 Women in Business. She is the President of King’s Collar Shirtmakers, one of the Philadelphia area’s most notable companies, and the first woman in the country to enter this male dominated industry.
Nancy’s entrepreneurial accomplishments have been recognized both locally and nationally, and through Community Leadership roles, has raised over a million dollars for Non-profits and Community-based needs. She has coached hundreds of businesses over the years, and understands the entrepreneurial passion that drives their vision and fuels their success.
Nancy Gold is also President of TKC Advertising, a company she started in 1980. She is a familiar voice on KYW News Radio 1060, and is well known for the voiceover tag; “There’s no Shopping Center like Shopping Center City.” She has done the voiceovers and ad copy for hundreds of companies over the years, and has served as a keynote speaker, as well as a guest editorialist for The Daily News, The Philadelphia Inquirer, and several Community papers. She is presently Chair of Development for First Friday Main Line, (FFML) and is an Advisory Board Member of The Ardmore Initiative.
As President Emeritus of Center City Proprietors Association, The Ardmore Business Association, and a Founding Officer of The Center City District (CCD) in Philadelphia, Nancy has played a pivotal role in shaping their programs. As a Center City activist, she was among the first to press for the zoning of outside dining in Center City, and was instrumental in enrolling the City’s residents and building owners into support for the Business District Authority which created The Center City District (CCD.)
When the City was looking for humane ways to treat the problem of panhandling, Nancy authored The Vendor Food Coupon Program which provided vendor meals for those begging for food on the streets of Philadelphia. 20,000 coupons were sold, and the program ultimately led to several pro-active solutions to panhandling.
Nancy was instrumental in passing the M.U.S.T. zoning (mixed use special transit) in Lower Merion Township, and under the banner of Carl Dranoff, has become an integral part of Ardmore’s new revitalization project, currently underway.
Having spent 20 years as an activist in Center City Philadelphia, Nancy presently serves as a Community Revitalization Expert in Ardmore, PA, and in Quakertown, PA. She continues to work with her custom shirt clients, and is presently working on a book that honors the entrepreneurial spirit.
Nancy lives in Ardmore PA, and has five children and five grandchildren.