Downtown Hillsdale .
(Photo: Wiki­media)

It’s where everybody knows your name.

Due to efforts of Pres­ident Coty Foster and Pres­ident-elect Connie Sexton, The Hillsdale Business Asso­ci­ation is growing: within the past two years, the asso­ci­ation doubled their mem­bership.

The Hillsdale Business Asso­ci­ation, which serves not only busi­nesses in downtown Hillsdale but throughout Hillsdale County, is a non­profit orga­ni­zation that pro­vides ser­vices from Facebook adver­tising to net­working events to local busi­nesses. They host events, like the upcoming Awesome Autumn, to attract the com­munity to local busi­nesses.

“The Hillsdale Business Asso­ci­ation is trying to bring com­munity and com­merce together,” Sexton said. “That’s what we are about, connect the two and grow.”

Jane Stewart, has owned Smith’s Flower Shop since 2010 and served as the pres­ident of the asso­ci­ation five years ago. Stewart said she believes in the work that Hillsdale Business Asso­ci­ation does for the com­munity: bringing people downtown and into stores and showing the com­munity what the city has to offer.

During her time as Pres­ident-elect, Sexton has reached out to local business owners and wel­comed new business owners into the com­munity. She runs the Hillsdale Business Association’s Facebook page, where she posts adver­tise­ments for the asso­ci­ation member’s busi­nesses. Inspired by old photos of downtown, Sexton said she wants to restore Hillsdale to its “former glory.”

“We need to go back there, give the people things to come downtown for and enjoy,” Sexton said.

Sexton, a Toledo native who moved to Hillsdale per­ma­nently in 2007, said she believes that encour­aging and sup­porting busi­nesses through adver­tise­ments and events will help Hillsdale to become a tourist des­ti­nation.  

Stewart attributes the recent growth of the Hillsdale Business Asso­ci­ation to the business owners, the Hillsdale Business Asso­ci­ation exec­utive board, and impor­tantly to Sexton.

“Connie blew into our town and she is just a dream come true,” Stewart said.

According to Foster, the asso­ci­ation was formed in 2007 to bring awareness to local busi­nesses. As a non­profit, all of its workers are vol­un­teers, and the funds they raise from mem­bership fees go toward insurance for the company and their four yearly events.

Foster says the Hillsdale Business Association’s growth is due not only to the increase in the number of busi­nesses downtown, but also an increase in the awareness of the association’s work.

Foster grew up in Hillsdale, grad­uated from high school, and after five years in Grand Rapids, he knew he wanted to go back home.

“The biggest thing I love about Hillsdale is what most people hate — walking in to local busi­nesses and people know you by name,” Foster said. “Here, everybody knows your name.”

Foster is cur­rently employed by County Bank.

This year, Foster said the asso­ci­ation is focusing on a rebranding, empha­sizing the impor­tance of business around Hillsdale county, instead of just the downtown area.

Foster extended grat­itude toward all members of the Hillsdale Business Asso­ci­ation, from the exec­utive board to the members and busi­nesses.

“I want to focus on mem­bership as a whole and everybody who sup­ports the Hillsdale Business Asso­ci­ation,” Foster said. “If we didn’t have that we wouldn’t be growing, so thank you to the orga­ni­zation as a whole.

  • If you haven’t seen the hubbub on Facebook, you need to change the image asso­ciated with this story. It’s not Hillsdale. It’s not even Hillsdale, New Jersey, which fre­quently gets con­fused for our little burg, and vice versa. A reverse image search shows that it’s Clinton, Indiana, as used in this Wikipedia article about that city:,_Indiana