The world’s very first Business Improvement Area was created in the Bloor-Jane area of west Toronto in 1970. Today, under the umbrella of the Ontario Business Improvement Area Association (OBIAA) there are more than 270 BIAs in Ontario, ranging in size from 60 to 2,000 businesses. The concept has also grown globally, with BIAs in Europe and countries such as Australia, New Zealand, Japan, South Africa and the United States.
The Downtown Stratford Business Improvement Area (BIA) is an association of downtown small business owners who work in partnership with the City of Stratford to create a thriving, competitive, and safe business area that attracts shoppers, diners, tourists and new business. By working collectively as a BIA, our local businesses have the organizational and funding capacity to be catalysts for civic improvement, enhancing the quality of life downtown and the City as a whole.
Every year a tax levy is collected from the approximate 320 businesses that fall within the BIA boundaries (please see attached map) and this is what makes up the BIA’s annual working budget. Membership to the BIA is automatic. If you fall within the boundary, a levy will be collected by the City and the business becomes a member.
The Stratford BIA consists of a Board of Management (please see list below) that oversees and is responsible for all the operations, activities, and decisions of our BIA. The positions are a four year term that runs concurrently with city council terms. Our Board comprises eight small business owners/employees and one City Councillor. Four staff also support the operations in the role of General Manager, Social Media, Communications and Board Assistant.
I joined the BIA (in 2018) because downtown Stratford is really a special place to run a business and I wanted to contribute to its vibrancy and evolution in a positive way. Getting to work and learn alongside other engaged business owners is another huge benefit to me personally and professionally.
Having the opportunity to be of service in one’s community and to speak of the things that are important and have been overlooked are important to me. EDR things are important to me. The BIA Board made sense as I’m a small business I can now think “bigger picture” - and knew businesses would be served well. I want to help create a strong and safe downtown for everyone. Serving your own community is important.
I saw the partnerships and work done in the early stages of the pandemic, especially the role of downtown Stratford, and wanted to be a part of that. I want to be able to use my very unique skill set to help foster local economic development and revitalization.
Simple, I love our downtown and will do anything to help keep it the vibrant place it is. I grew up on Falstaff St, went to Central and worked for a decade at NA Engineering, so downtown has been part of my life for a long time and I love it.
I joined the board to be a part of the bigger picture that affects my business. I wanted to help shape the programs that made our downtown so vibrant, and figured I had something to offer. What I didn't anticipate though was the amazing education I would receive in return. Sharing ideas and experiences with a group of motivated business people gave me a whole new perspective on how I run my own business.
I chose to live, work and raise a family in Stratford 15 years ago because this city is like no other. Stratford is a mix of small-town charm infused with cosmopolitan arts, culture and amenities. Our vibrant downtown core provides a one-of-a-kind experience for both tourists and locals alike. I joined the Downtown Stratford BIA Board 4 years ago with the hopes of being an active stakeholder in this community. This board has provided me with so much more; I have developed my leadership and business skill set. I’ve been witness to how the most successful downtown businesses operate and navigate an ever-changing landscape. The most compelling benefit has been the lifelong connections I have built with the most creative, tenacious and resilient members of this extraordinary city!
I joined the BIA seven ears ago to contribute to growth of the downtown. We’ve done a lot in this time, and I’ve sat with a couple of incredible board groups. I’ve really enjoyed it.
The BIA fit really well with two of the other boards I’m the council rep for - the library board and heritage Stratford. I see the synergy and linkages between them, and enjoy the interactions with business owners.
The Downtown Stratford BIA conducts its Board Meeting on the fourth Tuesday of each month at 6:15 pm, currently via Zoom. All BIA members, property owners and the public are welcome to attend. Please contact [email protected] for meeting details.
*January 24, 2023 meeting start time is 7:45PM*
Beautification / Holiday (seasonal) Working Group
Advocacy & Education
If you are interested in joining a sub-committee, please contact [email protected].
January 23, 2023 – Invest Stratford and Downtown Stratford BIA Announces Support Through the Government of Canada Funded by My Main Street, Local Business Accelerator Program – Ten businesses receive $10K each from My Main Street
September 24, 2021 – The National Day for Truth and Reconciliation September 30, 2021
June 2, 2021 – Commitment of responsibility, advocacy and reconciliation with the Indigenous Peoples of Turtle Island
April 6, 2021 – Provincial lockdown impact on Stratford city centre businesses
July 27, 2020 – Ally-ship and accountability towards diversity and inclusion within Stratford