Baltimore County

Arbutus business group broadens its scope, changes its name

Greater Arbutus Business Association office administrator Patsy Plowman, left,  and president Bettina Tebo inside the organization's Arbutus office.

The start of the new year has brought a new name and a shift in focus for the longtime business association in Arbutus.

The group formerly known as the Arbutus Business and Professional Association is now known as the Greater Arbutus Business Association. With the name change, the group will have a larger geographic scope, trying to promote and unite businesses throughout southwest Baltimore County.


"We no longer have boundaries," said its president, Bettina Tebo, who is in her third year leading the organization.

Its focus will narrow to strictly business development and fostering growth, Tebo said.


In an area home to many small businesses and few chain stores, Tebo said the business association should be more dedicated to supporting the entrepreneurs' endeavors.

"The business association needs to have the membership and the business climate as its priority," she said.

GABA has 101 members and has a goal to add 25 more this year. The group intends to explore the surrounding area to attract more businesses, particularly in Lansdowne, where the Lansdowne Business Association shut down about a year ago, Tebo said.

In recent months, the organization has been able to register businesses so they appear on Google searches and maps. In the works is a program to help existing businesses improve their web presence.

GABA will also take the Arbutus Commercial Revitalization Group — a think tank created in 2014 to help fill vacant business properties — under its wing, as a committee for economic development.

The need for two groups with similar objectives is no longer needed, said Deborah SeBour, the think tank's leader, as many members were in both groups.

"It just kind of makes sense to merge," SeBour said. "We're at a really good point right now."

The ABPA name is not gone, for good, though. GABA is using the ABPA name to start a community-based foundation, focusing on much of the civic tasks the Arbutus Business and Professional Association took on.


The ABPA Foundation, a nonprofit, will focus on beautification efforts, supporting charitable groups and scholarships and expand to beyond the business community, Tebo said.

Tebo said she wanted to keep the familiar acronym as a name for the foundation, in part, to honor the work that had been done in the past to set up and promote the business association. The Arbutus Business and Professional Association started in 1968.

The thought behind the foundation is to broaden the scope of what the business association previously did in its community endeavors to anyone in Arbutus.

"People who aren't in business have a lot to offer to Arbutus," said Patsy Plowman, office administrator for GABA. "They love Arbutus and they're so devoted to Arbutus."

For this year, the goals for the foundation are to establish a board of directors and identify what to do moving forward through a five-year plan.

By creating a nonprofit, the ABPA Foundation will be able to accept tax-deductible donations, something the business association never could do. Creating a board of directors will allow others to lead in the community's future, Tebo said.


"GABA could've handled it and taken care of it," she said. "But by separating it, [the foundation is] able to be more focused and have a bigger impact, because that's all that's going to do."