What is a Business Improvement Area (BIA)?
A BIA is an association of businesses and commercial property owners defined by a geographical area set aside by a municipality. There are a total of 82 BIA’s within the City of Toronto and each is run by an elected Board of Directors. Every business within the defined area of a BIA is automatically a member and is entitled to benefit from the services of their BIA as well as to attend whatever meetings are held by the board. The charge of the directors and staff members of each BIA is to promote their business community and improve the operating conditions of their BIA. Ultimately a BIA works to physically improve their neighborhood, to build awareness of their community and its main industries, as well as to promote the businesses of their members.
What Does a BIA Do?
Your BIA is responsible for maintaining the image and appeal of the neighborhood. This includes landscaping projects that will increase or aid the appeal to pedestrian traffic in the area. For example, DUKE Heights is currently working a beautification project for Finch Avenue West that will add landscaping, trees, street furniture, public art projects and more to this main artery. Throughout this process we try and contact the various property and business owners along our planned route so that we can have their input and cooperation to make the project a success. This is part of the reason why it is so important to make sure to reach out to your local BIA, if we already have a contact for you, it means that we can more readily get your input, opinion and help for projects and issues that will affect your business.
Your BIA will also work to make sure that people are aware of your neighborhood. They may put on street festivals and other marketing events and programs that bring people out to local businesses. At DUKE Heights, we offer a program called DUKE Perks where we have deals and discounts offered by our local members. Other BIA’s may have similar loyalty or discount programs. We also host a series of Networking events called DUKE Talks which not only serve to bring together our community, but work to make outsiders aware of our BIA and the types of businesses that are flourishing here.
Lastly your BIA will work to help improve the environment you run your business in. Currently the City of Toronto has a program out on offer through the BIA’s, called Digital main street. This is a program aimed at helping small businesses increase their online presence and sales. DUKE Heights also has various channels to try and get the word out about our great businesses. Every month we send out to our local community papers a DUKE News section. This section features one of our local businesses, as well as businesses from our DUKE Perks program. Your local BIA may also have connections to employment service agencies who can help your business access employee training, re-certification, grants and more.
About DUKE Heights BIA:
DUKE Heights Business Improvement Area (BIA) is the 2nd largest BIA in North America and is one of two industrial BIA’s in the City of Toronto. DUKE Heights is just under 2,000 acres in size and runs from Steeles Avenue in the North to Sheppard Avenue in the South and from Keele Street in the West to Dufferin Street in the East. There are over 2,500 Business located here specializing in everything from food, pharmaceutical and furniture manufacturing, health services, retail and more. In total our businesses employ over 31,000 people and 34,500 people commute into DUKE Heights every business day.
The Behar Group is part of The Duke Heights BIA.