The “first ever” report of this kind, establishes a baseline of the economic and social contribution of Business Improvement Areas to Ontario’s communities.
The Return on Investment of Business Improvement Areas (BIAs) project was spearheaded by the Ontario Business Improvement Area Association (OBIAA) and Toronto Area Business Improvement Association (TABIA) and funded through the Ministry of Municipal Affairs (MMA).
The primary goal of the year-long project was to:
- Establish a set of common indicators for BIAs across Ontario
- Create a pool of tools and metrics for BIAs to share their impact and analyze trends
- Understand what is happening in Ontario’s downtowns and mainstreets
- Outline existing gaps in the data base and how to go about filling them
The consultative process throughout the project was extensive and included a broad range of input from a full spectrum of BIAs, municipalities, and other stakeholders.
“Our goal was to provide the over 310 BIAs across Ontario with the understanding they need to manage and grow their capacity to be vital partners to their members, to their communities and to their municipalities,”
– Kay Matthews, OBIAA’s Executive Director.
The ROI Report identifies that BIAs are:
- Unique in scale and geography
- Big on passion
- Ground Zero for business innovation and incubation because they support small businesses
Here are some key observations from the report:
- BIAs can drive employment, with the survey of 162 BIAs across the province highlighting BIAs that are attracting notable levels of employment to an area (increased the daytime population by over 800% in one BIA), and BIAs that account for a significant proportion (ranging from 0.2:1 to 0.9:1) of the jobs in a community.
- An average of 6% of BIA membership represents new businesses.
- Based on Real Estate Board data, the cost of a single family home or condominium within 500m of a BIA rose on average 46% between 2011 and 2016.
- 75% of BIAs have a significant stock of properties that are either heritage-designated or of heritage interest.
- BIAs produce an estimated total of 1200 events each year, and another 1300 produced by other community organizations land within the BIA boundaries.
- Over half (55%) of reporting BIAs had members leveraging façade programs, generating an average 2.5:1 private sector to municipality investment ratio with an average of $0.17 per capita invested
Continue reading Ontario Business Improvement Areas Releases Return ON Investment Report
I had the opportunity to attend the 60th annual Economic Developers Council of Ontario (EDCO) conference that took place in February. Delegates from across Ontario included economic development officers, municipal elected officials, staff from several Ontario ministries, and industry leaders representing manufacturing, business, planning, IT, and tourism.
The theme this year was Driven by Innovation. The following are my top three takeaways from the EDCO conference. Continue reading 3 Lessons on Innovation from the Economic Developers Council of Ontario Annual Conference
At the end of September 2016 a bus load of University of Guelph, Ontario Agriculture
College (OAC) students headed north from Guelph to tour the Nipissing and Temiskaming farming districts. Through pictures and quotes here is a summary of their trip.
Two OAC students from the Temiskaming District, Emily Potter and Tanja Gahwiler, decided their fellow aggies should experience the agriculture found in northern Ontario, so they set about to organize a bus trip to northeastern Ontario.
With assistance and sponsorship from enthusiastic farm associations, the two brought 50 of their fellow students to the region. Continue reading #Agsplore The North
Held on November 15th, 2016, and hosted by the Municipality of Brooke-Alvinston, OMAFRA, Sarnia-Lambton Economic Partnership, and Sarnia-Lambton Business Development Corporation, this event brought together 126 community volunteers, business champions, municipal staff and elected officials to hear ideas about revitalizing small communities.
Continue reading Key Takeaways: Teeny Tiny Southwest Summit
The 8th annual Municipal Agriculture Economic Development Forum was held on November 2 & 3rd in Caledon at both the Millcroft Inn and Spa in Alton and the Caledon Pan Am Equestrian Park in Palgrave respectfully.
Delegates came from across Ontario with disciplines in both municipal planning, tourism and local economic development with agriculture and food (farming, food processing, agri-tourism, equine/agri-business sector, and agri-entrepreneurship) as part of their portfolio.
Continue reading 8th Annual Municipal Agriculture Economic Development Forum Highlights
As the downtown revitalization community of practice sessions have come to an end, we thought it would be a perfect time to reflect on the key learnings and benefits that these sessions provide to our clients. Community of Practice sessions are generally held as a knowledge transfer opportunity; these sessions aim to provide feedback, support, and guidance to those who wish to partake in a downtown revitalization initiative.
Continue reading Key Takeaways: Downtown Revitalization Community of Practice
The Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs’ Downtown Revitalization Program is a comprehensive program that supports the economic development efforts of rural communities across Ontario. An initial step in this program is the intensive downtown revitalization coordinator training provided by OMAFRA staff. This training is focused on identifying the processes and tools required to successfully undertake a downtown revitalization project.
Continue reading Want to learn about downtown revitalization?
For the second year in a row, the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) has partnered with the Ontario Business Improvement Area Association (OBIAA) to organize and deliver three Downtown Revitalization Community of Practice sessions. These sessions are being hosted in communities that are at various stages in their downtown revitalization program. The sessions are designed to provide a balance of perspectives about the challenges and opportunities associated with launching a Downtown Revitalization initiative, developing strategies to respond to changing markets, and maintaining support over the longer term.
These one-day sessions showcase the community, and the individuals or organizations involved in the revitalization of the downtown. This includes presentations by the host community and partner organizations, facilitated discussions on downtown revitalization best practices, and networking opportunities. Community of Practice sessions are scheduled for the following dates and locations:
More information and registration details can be found on the OBIAA website. OMAFRA facilitates and coordinates resources and tools to build the capacity of rural Ontario communities for economic development. For more information on OMAFRA’s Downtown Revitalization program, visit our website or contact the Agriculture and Rural Economic Development Advisor in your area.
There are a number of exciting initiatives currently under way that look to answer some of the questions mentioned in part one of this series, and kick start discussion around youth engagement in rural communities.
Continue reading Ways Communities Can Support and Attract Youth in Rural Ontario
Supporting, engaging, attracting and retaining youth in rural communities is increasingly the “talk of the town” amongst governments, communities, and concerned citizens across Ontario.
Rural communities across Ontario have been seeing a net outmigration of youth (between the ages of 15-29) for years. Much of the outmigration of youth from these communities can be attributed to a number of factors, from opportunities for post-secondary education, to finding employment, to the variety of amenities offered in larger urban centres. Many of these same rural communities face challenges in providing comparable opportunities for their youth to grow and develop relative to more prosperous urban communities. Continue reading The Importance of Supporting and Attracting Youth in Rural Ontario