Saturday, January 20, 2018

What is a BIA?

A BIA is a geographic area in a municipality. Each BIA has a board of management which is an organization set up to provide business promotion and improvement functions.

A BIA allows local business people and property owners to join together and with the support of the municipality, organize, finance and carry out physical improvement and promote economic development in their district. The local municipality is the body responsible for approving the budget of the BIA.

What Does a BIA Do?

The BIA has a two-fold mandate:

  • to oversee the improvement, beautification and maintenance of municipally owned land, buildings and structures in the area beyond that provided by the municipality generally, and
  • to promote the area as a business and shopping district.

In carrying out these responsibilities, BIA’s have become involved in numerous activities, which often include:

  • Marketing: Understanding who area customers are, and creating effective promotions to retain and expand the customer base.
  • Business Recruitment: Working with property owners to help ensure that available space is occupied, and that an optimum business and service mix is achieved and maintained.
  • Streetscape Improvement and Other Amenities: Providing for more customer-friendly lighting, signage, street furniture, planters, banners and sidewalk treatment.
  • Seasonal Decorations: Creating a unique and pleasant environment for customers and staff of all businesses, retail and non-retail, through the use of decorations that are appropriate to the season and holiday.
  • Special Events: Organizing and partnering in special events that highlight unique attributes of the area and increase customer visits

For more information on BIA's in Ontario and how they are governed, please see the Business Improvement Area Handbook from the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing.

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