New Bay Ridge board of tourism discussed at Colonial Club meeting
On Thursday, Dec. 1, the Brooklyn Colonial Club welcomed guest speaker Justin Brannan, a Bay Ridge community leader and former chief of staff to Councilmember Vincent Gentile, to speak about his newest endeavor, the Bay Ridge Board of Tourism.
Brannan co-founded Bay Ridge Democrats and is considered a leading contender for Gentile’s seat when the councilmember’s third four-year term expires at the end of 2017. Brannan attended Xaverian High School, graduated from Fordham University and has worked at Bear Stearns, Bank of New York and Bankers Trust. He currently works for Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration and serves as deputy executive director of intergovernmental affairs at the New York City Department of Education.
A Bay Ridge native and a musician who toured the world with his band for 10 years starting in 1996, Brannan said it was during this period away from home for extended amounts of time that he realized how much he missed his neighborhood and all the things it had to offer. “Absence truly does make the heart grow fonder,” he said. “After spending so much time on the road and away from home I realized how really special this neighborhood is and how much it meant to me growing up, how unique it is and how unique it has remained.”
Brannan expressed his pride in his community and said that he’d always been a cheerleader for Bay Ridge. He explained, “I had this idea to create a Board of Tourism. You know, they usually have a board of tourism in Aruba or Bermuda or Montauk, but you don’t think of it as something you would have in Brooklyn. But the name just came to me, the Bay Ridge Board of Tourism, and then I thought, why don’t we actually try to do that?
“We wouldn’t be saying to people who were considering going to Turks and Caicos, ‘Hey, how about coming to Marine Avenue?’” he continued. “Rather, it would be more like an internal board of tourism.”
Brannan called Bay Ridge a “bedroom community,” where people come home from work, go to sleep and then go back to work.
He added, “People tend to want to go to dinner or take in the arts in Manhattan, because they don’t know it exists here. So, it’s not so much a tourism board where we are promoting to the outside world to attract tourists, but actually promoting to people who live here so that they will know what already exists right in their own neighborhood.”
Brannan said he also wants to embrace social media and that the board is building a website which will serve as a “one-stop-shop” go-to calendar and clearing house for all Bay Ridge events. He said he envisions it as a resource where everyone who has an event would send in all their information and it would be posted in one place.
He added that this would also help charities by amplifying their events and making more people aware of them, which would ultimately help raise more money for worthy causes. Brannan said, “It’s all about getting the word out so that people know all this great stuff is going on.”
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