Tamara Kirby Crump’s New Mission
Helping Upper Darby BusinessesBy MARIAM DEMBELE
Tamara Kirby Crump did not have a traditional career path. However, there has been one consistent thread that has carried her through her diverse positions in higher education, youth development, business and community development, and that is her passion for social services. “I really enjoy working with people and building programs to better the community at-large,” said Crump.
She now fulfills that passion through her role as Secretary of the Upper Darby Committee for Business and Economic Development. In this position she works to strengthen the economic foundation in Upper Darby, specifically by supporting existing small business owners and encouraging new owners to open businesses in the township. As part of the Mayor's Committee for Economic and Business Development, Crump supports new business applicants by fine tuning the process for getting a businesses started, but also by focusing on one-on-one connections and listening to the needs of current business owners.
On September 28th this year, the township is hosting its 3rd Annual International Festival. The festival will celebrate the more than 80 countries that are represented in the township.
The event will include food, music, vendors and activities, as well as, a parade of flags that will honor the diversity in the township. Crump hopes it will benefit the businesses in the area and introduce guests to the vibrant cultural diversity of restaurants, entertainment and services available in Upper Darby. “It's a really great economic energizer for the businesses along the 69th Street corridor and it lets people know that there's more to Upper Darby than they may think,” she related. “We're talking to businesses, getting their feedback, understanding what their challenges are, what they like about the township, and trying to really enhance that,” said Crump. “[We want business owners] to feel valued, to know that their small business actually means something to the township.
It's not just another store - it's actually an integral part of our economic tapestry and foundation, and what they do as an owner matters.” Crump understands the ins and outs of the business world because she used to be a small business owner. In 2013, she opened a Pro-Martial Arts franchise in Upper Darby. Her goal was to provide services for families and children, as well as, to become more involved in the community. At her studio, instructors went beyond teaching just physical movement, they worked to instill values of individuality, teamwork, confidence and honesty in their young students.
Crump valued the relationships she built at her studio and the relationships that small businesses in general can build between residents. Having a strong, diverse community of businesses is one of the things she values most about Upper Darby. “Every township, every borough, every city has its big stores, but what makes them unique are those small one of a kind places that you have to go to,” said Crump. “It makes me happy if I walk into a store and I start talking to the owner about their food, their culture, their dress, their language, and they begin to share with me.
That is how you build those wonderful organic relationships … it's enjoyable and valuable when we get to know our business owners. That is really nice about the work the township is doing.”It was through her time as a business owner that she was able to become more involved in community affairs and local governance. “My small business gave me the opportunity to volunteer and to fundraise. It opened the doors for me to serve on boards and commissions in the township and that volunteer work was what helped me to eventually begin working at the township when I closed the business,” said Crump.
Crump plans to continue to use her wide range of expertise to help the community to flourish. Her overall mission is to build unity between small business owners in Upper Darby and have the benefits of a strong business ecosystem overflow into the community at large.“I would like to be remembered as someone who was a support and a help especially to our small businesses,” said Crump. “Having been a small business owner, I understand how challenging it can be to build a business in today's economy. This motivates me to help businesses join together, become a team and be able to – through those united efforts – provide amazing opportunities and services for the people in this township.”
Mariam Dembele is a freelance multimedia journalist with a passion for food, culture and current events. She has a bachelor's in journalism from Temple University.