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New energy, direction for the BIA

The Elmira BIA has a new executive, and a new sense of purpose it hopes will translate into a more active membership and, ultimately, a unified marketing message.

Krista McBay, the owner of Elmira Home Hardware, was elected chair at the group’s meeting Apr. 27. The treasurer is Darcy Krahn of RBC. Newcomers Todd Cowan of Gramma B’s Craft Den and Derek Patterson of Inspiring Accents will serve as directors.

KRISTA McBAY
KRISTA McBAY

“I think we’re heading into a good term,” McBay said in an interview, adding more members are coming on board, interested in looking forward.

Cowan, who has been attending BIA meetings recently, said he sees a new energy in the organization.

“We have a direction we want to go.”

The first step, both say, is to get more of the downtown businesses involved with the BIA. In past years, it’s had difficulty finding people to serve on the executive, let alone getting the general membership out for meetings or events.

Some of the businesses have turned their backs on the BIA, said Cowan. The new executive wants to get them back into the fold, but recognizes that will mean some work.

“We need to be proactive. We need to give people a reason why they should be involved with the BIA,” he said.

From there, the BIA can begin selling the downtown as a shopping destination for area residents. Communication is the key to both the internal and external efforts, McBay added.

When taking its message to the public, the BIA will focus on the downtown as the place for local and nearby residents, not as a tourist draw. Where some of the longstanding members harken back to the days of busloads of tourists coming to visit the Brox building, the newer merchants recognize a different reality.

“Those days are over. Elmira needs to focus on Elmira and the smaller areas around here,” she said. “We’re interested in proving to those consumers that Elmira is good place to shop.”

Sandy Shantz, the Woolwich councillor who sits on the BIA, welcomed the new energy she’s seen in the organization, bringing a list of issues to this week’s council meeting.

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