Sidney’s new business improvement area needs room to breathe and the support of its community if it’s going to have any chance at success.
The BIA has come under attack since it was approved by the municipality and a provisional board of directors started to get things rolling with a new communications co-ordinator position and a public survey.
The biggest complaint against the BIA is its cost in the face of a slow local economy.
Sidney businesses in the downtown core around Beacon Avenue will contribute an estimated $250,000 to the BIA. Combined with partnerships and other fees, this represents an annual war chest with which the best things about Sidney can be marketed outside of the area. The goal: to bring in new customers.
Some might argue that current methods and social media are doing that job. Yet, where social media is concerned, businesses are mostly preaching to the choir. What the BIA is setting out to do is to grab the attention of new choir members.
They hope those new bodies will soon be singing the praises of Sidney.
It’s certainly tough to absorb new costs to doing business. But it’s the big picture the board of the BIA is hoping to sell. Show off Sidney and its downtown and perhaps a new audience will want to see more. That, it is hoped, will translate into more feet in the street and more bodies in the businesses.
Can’t see it yet? Well, it hasn’t happened yet. It’s still early. The BIA needs to start somewhere and it has the overall support to do it.
Even the BIA believes, however, that they need to be able to justify their actions and prove their efforts are paying off. So, they’ve enlisted the services of a consulting firm to track their success over time.
A board made up of business and property owners will add to the oversight and help ensure those BIA fees are spent where they do the most good.
Suspicious or supportive, get involved. That’s the only way to make a difference.