Foot traffic and web traffic are the two issues Marysville Business Association president Herbert Richardson says he wants to concentrate on in 2012.

Foot traffic and web traffic are the two issues Marysville Business Association president Herbert Richardson says he wants to concentrate on in 2012.

The association is a group of Marysville business owners; anyone who is a member of the chamber of commerce is eligible to take part.

Richardson, who became the association's president at the beginning of this year, served as vice president last year. He has been a member of the association for 12 years.

The Marysville Business Association was formed in 1992 as a result of the merger of the Marysville Chamber of Commerce, Richwood Chamber of Commerce, and Plain City Chamber of Commerce into what is today the Union County Chamber of Commerce.

"As a result of the merging of the three chambers, each community maintained a business association that became divisions of the county chamber," Union County Chamber of Commerce CEO Eric Phillips said.

Richardson said it is a way for local business owners to share experiences with each other.

"It's a matter of getting the local Marysville business owners together to talk about common problems," he said.

The biggest problem Richardson sees for downtown business owners right now is parking.

"Parking is so bad, it's difficult to go downtown, park and walk around," he said. "You have to park three blocks away just to get downtown."

Richardson said the empty storefronts downtown can be attributed, in part, to the parking situation, but the problem is not exclusive to Marysville.

"Other communities all have the same problem," he said. "You look at Powell, even Dublin. Parking is terrible in Dublin, but it hasn't kept them from growing. Powell went to a whole different strategy. They went to antiquing and that's what brings the people in, mostly on the weekends."

Richardson said the parking lots along the outskirts of downtown Marysville still don't provide enough space.

"A lot of things are changing," he said. "Not just the economy but the whole way of doing retail business."

That's why he thinks local business owners also have to turn to the Internet to grow their businesses and many of them are not doing that.

"I started to do a survey and gave up," he said. "Less than 50 percent of the members have a website.

"That's one of the things we're going to try to do in MBA -- show our people it's really fairly simple," he said. "It's not costly and it will at least get you to the shoppers on the Internet before they leave home. If you're not on the Internet, then they'll not even know you're there."

Richardson hopes the association can grow in 2012. Usually, 30 to 45 local business owners show up for the monthly meetings. Monthly meetings are held on the third Wednesday of every month at the Elks Lodge.

"There are a lot of businesspeople who are not in the association," he said. "We are kind of focused on downtown, but Marysville is more than downtown. There's Coleman's Crossing and other things now. We don't have a lot of membership from those other areas yet. We want to show them getting to know the other business owners is helpful."

The association works with the city to make sure it keeps up with any new regulations for business owners and does other things, such as providing for the plant hangings in downtown Marysville.

"It's something we wanted to do," he said. "But we have very limited resources. Each individual association comes up with their own fundraising. We have a budget of $1,500 to $2,000 per year we bring in from other fundraising."

Richardson said the MBA is a "forum for the owners to talk about things and get to know each other and find out what's going on."

The group's main concentration is developing local business, he said.

"We are a growth community," he said. "In fact, the whole county has a higher growth rate than most of the other counties in the state. It's not exuberant yet. People are still cautious

"My concern is that even when people are spending money, they don't know what's available downtown or in Marysville as a whole and they're going to be going somewhere else," Richardson said.