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Santa Barbara’s Downtown Organization Director leaving position

Carrie Kelly
Courtesy photo
Executive Director Carrie Kelly is leaving the Santa Barbara Downtown Organization. (Courtesy photo)

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - The Santa Barbara Downtown Organization is looking for a new Executive Director, after receiving a letter this week from its current leader Carrie Kelly.

Kelly will be taking an economic development position in Arizona.

She arrived in late 2018 at a time when the downtown was struggling with vacancies and the impact from the Montecito mudflow on the entire South Coast region.

Efforts to rejuvenate the area have included new community events, focus meetings with downtown economic analysts from other areas, and many community meetings.

Kelly's departure comes five months after Kate Schwab, the marketing director also left.

A new board of business leaders came together recently with fresh plans for 2020 prior to the coronavirus outbreak. It had an enthusiastic set of goals for events and shopping stimulus ideas ahead.

The Downtown Organization has worked closely with the city leaders on solutions to the leasing slow down in the area. Many custom ideas have come forward including, relocating the Farmers' Market on Saturday, redesigning De la Guerra Plaza with a link to State Street, closing off one or both lanes of traffic for more pedestrian room, and having different concept ideas for each block.

Annually the organization puts on the Holiday Parade in December, an Art and Wine evening in May, and a Shop Local day in November.

It also pays for the daily cleaning crew which takes care of power washing and sweeping over a 12 block area. That team also puts up the seasonal lights on trees.

In her departure letter Kelly said "it is a time for great change and challenge in the business community in the United States and downtown Santa Barbara. I believe the pieces are in place for our Downtown to flourish after this period."

Kelly gave a two week notice to Bob Stout the President of the Downtown Organization. She offered her services in the transition.

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John Palminteri

John Palminteri is senior reporter for KEYT News Channel 3. To learn more about John, click here.

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