The Alliston BIA Celebrates the 50th Anniversary of BIAs in Canada

September 16, 2020

The Alliston Business Improvement Association is proud to celebrate the 50th anniversary of BIAs. In celebration of this milestone, the ABIA is excited to share some of the accomplishments that have been achieved by the organization over the years.

The mission of the Alliston BIA is to support the promotion and development of the business areas of Alliston, create a vibrant downtown and to support the established businesses, entice new businesses and validate Alliston’s image as an independent, viable, progressive centre of commerce. Funded by the business members in the designated catchment area, through an additional levy, the ABIA achieves their mission and adds value to the community by focusing on projects under four pillars: beautification, events, marketing and communication.

Events are among the most important tourism draws and revenue builders for the community. Over the years the ABIA has organized events to encourage tourism and support local business including the Rurban Farmers’ Market, Rurban Food Truck Rally, Rurban Sights and Sounds, Monster Mash and Christmas Crawl.

The ABIA trademark “RURBAN, the Best of Both Worlds” branding has continued to gain momentum as we drive our marketing plans locally and throughout Southern Ontario. Innovative marketing campaigns across social, television, radio and print are another way that the ABIA supports and promotes local businesses.

The installation of free WIFI in the downtown core made Alliston the first downtown in Canada to have WIFI powered by solar energy, landing the BIA an award-winning title in 2018.

Signage projects including MTO highway signs promoting Historic Downtown Alliston, blade signs and heritage signs are all beautification projects initiated by the ABIA. The next signage project is an electronic gateway sign that will be installed in the fall of 2020. Alliston’s downtown core and west-end continue to be enhanced by beautiful floral displays, Rurban banners and seasonal décor.

The Digital Main Street program implemented in 2019 successfully brought thousands of dollars of grant funding into the community while helping local businesses elevate their online presence. The ABIA is excited to be bringing this program back throughout the end of 2020 and into 2021.  

In 2019 the ABIA began championing a pop-up patio pilot program to support and improve the vibrancy of our restaurant community. At the beginning of August 2020, the boardwalk bump-outs were installed and have received overwhelmingly positive feedback from business owners and the community. The patios will be up throughout the fall of 2020 and the hope is that more will be built in 2021.

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, ABIA Chair Mike Jerry and ABIA General Manager have been on weekly calls with all levels of government to ensure that ABIA members are up to date on relief programs and that their voices and concerns are heard.

On September 16, 1970, Bloor West Village BIA in Toronto became the first BIA in the world. There are now more than 300 BIAs in Ontario and 500 across Canada. The idea has spread globally, with BIAs in more than 10 countries around the world.

BIA’s are the backbone of vibrant, thriving communities. Going forward, the ABIA Volunteer Board of Directors, General Manager and staff will continue to serve its members with initiatives under the four pillars and bring exciting changes to the Alliston community. Keep an eye out for upcoming initiatives by following ABIA social channels (@downtownalliston) and remember to shop safe, shop local in downtown Alliston.

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