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Ontario Business Improvement Areas Releases Return ON Investment Report

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

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