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Kentlands Downtown Partnership Gets New President

Local business owner Joe Pritchard takes over the reins of the local business group.

A chord in music is when several notes come together to make a pleasant sound.

That, in a sense, is what Joe Pritchard hopes to accomplish as the newly elected president of the Kentlands Downtown Partnership.

Pritchard owns the , which sits just off Market Square in the heart of the Kentlands. The shop specializes in lessons, but will sell you a spare guitar string or clarinet reed if you're in need.

The KDP is, in Pritchar's words, like a chamber of commerce for the Kentlands. There are around 40 or 45 members—businesses—that meet once a month to network and talk about issues impacting the community. Individual residents can join in a non-voting role.

Even though something like the KDP was part of the Kentlands developer's original vision, it only came to fruition about two and a half years ago, Pritchard said, largely through the work of outgoing president Paula Ross.

After pouring countless hours into making the KDP what it is today, Ross decided to step back into a less time-intensive role as Vice President, Pritchard explained.

So a little over a month ago, after being a member of the KDP for nearly a year and a half, Pritchard was elected president.

Probably the Partnership's most visible contribution to the community is the purchase, decoration and lighting each winter of the Kentlands Christmas tree.

This year they will be holding a fundraiser at the Star Diner to help raise money for the tannenbaum, among other activities.

"This year we want to get a really nice tree," Pritchard said. "It's been great in the past, but this year we really want to get something impressive."

Pritchard has his sights set on the future. With the board finally at full capacity, he hopes it can act more as a steering committee for the group and streamline some of its activities, he said.

He wants to focus the KDP's efforts on increased marketing and better signage to drive more people into the heart of the Kentlands.

He also wants to push to get the Kentlands designated as an arts and entertainment district, which would help give tax breaks to some local businesses.

But all of that will come in time. For the moment he is focusing on tomorrow's Kentlands Day, followed by a trip to Capital Hill next week to lobby for music education with the National Association of Music Merchants, and then hosting the Main Street Music Festival in June.

Oh, and running his business.

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