Archive for Saturday, August 21, 1999

MASS ST. BOOSTER GETS NEW CHIEF

August 21, 1999

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Marcia McFarlane never wanted to work full time, opening the door for Laura Schulte to take over soon as administrator of Downtown Lawrence Inc.

The top administrator for Downtown Lawrence Inc. will be leaving after a year on the job, and a former administrator will take her place.

Marcia McFarlane, who has handled the downtown business trade group's administrative duties since June 1998, plans to resign from the part-time job Sept. 1. She will be replaced by Laura Schulte, a former administrator who starts work Monday.

The group, with 180 members, works on behalf of the more than 300 businesses and their 5,000 employees in the 16-block central business district, long considered the city's cultural, governmental and historical hub. The administrator post likely will be elevated to full-time status Jan. 1, when a $50,000 city grant kicks in.

McFarlane didn't want to work full time, although much of her year on the job has been spent juggling duties for at least 40 hours a week, said Sarah Fayman, Downtown Lawrence president.

"Marcia has proven to us how much work there is -- good work -- that needs to be done," said Fayman, owner of Sarah's Fabrics, 925 Mass. "I wish she would stay, but it's just humanly impossible for one person to pull it off part time."

McFarlane said she was proud of helping downtown pull together, through Christmas light displays, clean-up efforts, a traveling "Faces of Downtown Lawrence" exhibit and reinstatement of a "block ambassador" program to boost communication.

"I've really loved the job and everything we've accomplished," McFarlane said. "We've made great strides."

Schulte, who had been the group's administrator in the early 1990s, expressed an interest in the anticipated full-time job after the Lawrence City Commission decided last month to bolster downtown's economic efforts.

The $50,000 grant is part of a strategy to recruit local and regional small businesses to locate downtown, to help stem the tide of arrivals by national retail chains such as Borders, The Gap and Abercrombie & Fitch.

Fayman is confident that Schulte, who has been hired on an interim basis, can handle the responsibility.

"We're going to see what we can do to keep small, individual businesses attracted to downtown, and to keep the personality we have without changing it much," Fayman said. "It's diverse. It's individual. We want to keep it unique. We don't want to turn it into a mall environment."

Schulte is an owner and former manager of Sunrise Garden Center, 15th and New York streets.

-- Mark Fagan's phone message number is 832-7188. His e-mail address is mfagan@ljworld.com.

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