WHAT IS A BUSINESS IMPROVEMENT AREA (BIA)?
A Business Improvement Area (BIA) is a group of commercial property owners and tenants who collaborate with the municipality to develop a thriving and safe business district that attracts shoppers, diners, tourists, and new businesses. Working together as a BIA, local businesses benefit from a pooled resource capacity (funds and people) to actively improve the quality of life in their local neighbourhood and the Municipality as a whole. As a private-public partnership that supports community and economic development, a BIA has unique and specific connections with the municipality. BIAs in collaboration with the municipality oversee the improvement, beautification, and maintenance of municipally-owned land, buildings, and structures in the area beyond what is provided at the municipality's general expense; and promote the area as a business or shopping area.
The Downtown Kingston Business Improvement Area (BIA) is a not-for-profit organization representing more than 700 business and property owners located in the core commercial area of the City of Kingston. The organization is managed by an elected volunteer Board of Management. Committees and Advisory Working Groups help to ensure that the direction of the BIA is reflective of the entire membership. The BIA staff is made up of a group of professionals that are dedicated to the continued growth and prosperity of Downtown Kingston.
"The Downtown Kingston Business Improvement Area (BIA) cultivates and enhances downtown Kingston’s position as the region’s leading culinary, entertainment, shopping, and services destination while attracting more people to experience and contribute to our vibrant downtown community."
BIAs improve their local economies through activities such as
- Promotion of the BIA as a business, employment, tourist or shopping area (business directories, festivals, advertising).
- Hosting neighbourhood festivals and events to increase visitor traffic, and add to the vibrant feel of Downtown spaces.
- Developing and executing strategic plans for business recruitment, market studies and capital improvements.
- As a unified voice, advocating on behalf of their members.
- Safety, security and crime prevention initiatives.
- Removing graffiti and posters, respecting building facades visible from the street.
- Maintaining street and sidewalk cleanliness, capital improvements.
Who may benefit from a BIA?
- Operators of businesses:
- Property owners:
BIA-initiated improvements and activities may help to create and sustain a more vibrant economic environment within an area, which may lead to increased demand for retail and office space, a decrease in commercial vacancy rates, and an increase in property values.
- Neighbouring Communities:
- The greater community:
Common BIA-Related Questions
How is a BIA funded?
The municipality collects a levy from commercial property owners (usually derived from tenants) and provides it to the BIA. The cost is nominal in relation to the many benefits businesses can receive, because businesses collectively contribute to an organization that represents the entire business area and is accountable to each business. Businesses provide input to shape the budget and vote on the budget annually at the AGM and other membership meetings held.
To find out more about how the levy works in Downtown Kingston, and to see an example of how it is calculated Click Here
Benefits of a BIA
BIAs help forms a strong and distinct image for a municipality’s neighbourhood as its destination to eat, shop, work, and play. This effectively markets the area as a local destination, competing against e-commerce giants and malls, and tourism destinations. The BIA is a ‘collective good’ model.
BIAs can be catalysts for civic improvement and significant contributors to the municipality’s economy and the quality of life in our neighbourhoods. In order to help local commercial areas create thriving, competitive and safe business areas, the municipality may offer programs to BIAs.