A significant growth in local businesses within Elmira triggers the formation of a new constitution for the Elmira Business Improvement Area organization (BIA). A bylaw agreement between Woolwich Township and the BIA has always been in place but this is the first attempt at a full constitution outlining in detail the BIA’s responsibilities and goals.
In the new constitution the board of management is improving on clauses in order to expand their membership and represent more of Elmira’s entrepreneurs and professionals. Where previously Elmira’s BIA represented downtown retail businesses almost exclusively, the growth in other professional business sectors over the years calls for a change in how the organization represents itself and its professional affiliates.
“We have a lot of retail and professional businesses in the BIA area and to better service the businesses in general we need to have more people from different aspects of business.” Says BIA secretary and business owner Freda Walker.
While many downtown business locations in other Waterloo Region towns are retail-heavy, Walker said Elmira’s main locations are growing in other ways as well. Non-retail businesses have sprung up over the past 10 to 15 years and are so far lacking in representation from the organization. The new constitution includes room for a maximum of 12 members, where currently the organization has only six. The BIA hopes to use this change in order to diversify its base of members. BIA chair Jen Patterson explains that all business owners are welcome to join but also that she would like to see a broader representation of Elmira businesses in the organization.
“We would love to see some representation on the board from some of these businesses, more of the services side in town. Right now its predominantly retail. We don’t have anyone from the banks in town, we don’t have anyone from the insurance companies in town, and right now all of the representation is on the retail side.”
As to when this constitution will be up for approval, there is no exact schedule as of yet, but Patterson predicts a date sometime in July or August.
“We are planning to approve it unless we have some opposition at our next July meeting,” she noted.
The constitution is in its final stages of completion, with defined BIA boundaries as well as lists of affiliates, procedures and sub-committees. Patterson said this effort is necessary because Elmira’s BIA is the only such organization to date without a full constitution.
Apart from wider representation of local businesses the BIA hopes the new constitution will improve on volunteerism and aid in bringing in more clientele to the downtown area. August promises to be a busy month for the organization, with plans to hold family events in promotion of Elmira’s entrepreneurs and local efforts. The BIA is holding a Family Fun Night with an outdoor theatre on Aug. 10 from 3 to 11 p.m. and a sidewalk sale Aug. 9-11.