HUNTSVILLE - In the three weeks leading up the final of the European Cup Soccer finals, which happens to fall on Canada Day, our little town of Huntsville is busy preparing prepares to receive the thousands of tourists and visitors during the summer months of July and August.
Each year at this time the banners are hung, the flower baskets and hanging planters are placed down the main street.
The adventure mural guide is ready and available for those visitors interested in learning more about the over 35 Group of Seven Murals located throughout the downtown core.
This time is also a period when local small businesses hire and train new summer students for positions in our vibrant tourism economy. The tourism industry is vital to the economic stability of so many small towns such as Huntsville, Bracebridge and Gravenhurst.
I was reminded once again at a recent board meeting of the Ontario Business Improvement Area Association the importance of local small business, the so called “mom and pop” run stores, not only to the local economy, but also to the provincial economic impact.
These small rural-based businesses throughout Northern Ontario, some that have less than five employees, represent a large portion of the economic stimulus.
The Ontario BIA Association through membership represents supports and encourages business improvement areas to increase its effectiveness and their contribution to the economic, cultural and social well-being of communities in Ontario.
I have learned that the Ontario BIA Association, collectively, represents over 100 part-time staff, 150 full-time staff with a combined budget of over $35,000,000 that is spent keeping Ontario’s communities vital. There are 55,000 businesses that are represented within Ontario’s over 280 BIAs.
The first BIA legislation in the world was created in 1970 in a partnership with the Ministry of Municipal Affairs (the Government of Ontario), Bloor West Village and the City of Toronto.
As part of the continual learning process of being the general manager of the Downtown Huntsville BIA, the board of directors in their wisdom has recognized the inherent benefit of having a representative sit on the Ontario BIA board. Information from other BIAs such as strategic development plans though other municipalities are shared freely and openly. Also, there is open communications on the creation of events for festival and events in local downtown. Other association board members are very open and willing to share their success as well as failures (well perhaps not as often) in regard to stimulating the cultural and economic wellbeing of their downtowns.
Keeping the small downtowns rural Ontario communities economically vibrant is a huge responsibility, but it has been proven if community stake holders rally together, both in the private and public sector large benefits will be received.
I not only look forward to seeing you downtown this summer and if you are wondering who to cheer for during the Euro 2012 soccer championships … the Netherlands are always a sure thing!
Hup hup Holland!