The Spy “Exit Interview” series is part journalism and part oral history. Over the last eleven years, we have interviewed dozens of local leaders at the moment of their departure to reflect on their work and some of the challenges they faced in their professional careers and the nonprofit organizations they have helped lead.
In this installment, Ross Benincasa has been asked to provide some perspective as he completes four years as director of Discover Easton and its partner organization, the Easton Business Alliance.
For Ross, the last four years have seen some great success in having the world “Discover” Easton. He has also overseen many experiments to help achieve that goal. And in his interview with the Spy, he outlines his observations on what works in attracting visitors from Washington or Baltimore.
Ross also talks candidly about the Easton Promenade concept that was embraced but then was quickly discarded by the Town of Easton Council early last summer. The promenade idea was to promote outdoor dining by closing off Washington Avenue in the historic downtown to encourage more customers. Unfortunately for many, there was major pushback from other downtown stakeholders, and the town council reversed their decision within a week.
Benincasa is the first to admit the project was fast-tracked in the attempt to help local restaurants. He also acknowledges that this kind of quick change is hard to implement. Still, it remains confusing and disappointing to him that the promenade conflict has led to the end of his organization and its mission by Easton’s mayor to merge Discover Easton into one budget center with the Easton Economic Development Corporation.
This video is approximately ten minutes in length.