Last Wednesday, the Old Town Kemptville BIA held their Annual General Meeting in one of the salon rooms at the North Grenville Municipal Centre. The meeting was attended by approximately twenty-five participants, including BIA members, Board of Management directors and key stakeholders.

The OTK BIA summary Annual Report was given by Board of Management Chair Paul Cormier. He also spoke about the draft Business Plan for 2016, on which the BIA board is hoping to get feedback from both members and stakeholders. In the Business Plan, the priorities were stated as: 1) Marketing and Business Attraction 2) Financial Management 3) Programming 4) Communications and Relationship Management 5) Human Resource Management and 6) Governance. Marketing and Business Attraction is clearly the top priority and will be a major challenge with the limited BIA budget. However, the BIA recently sat down with the North Grenville Economic Development Committee, the Planning and Economic Development Department and other stakeholders to plan a Business Attraction Strategy. (BAS).

Matt Gilmer of the North Grenville Planning and Economic Development Department gave a report on projects which his department has been working on in support of the OTK BIA. The key points were the Business Attraction Strategy, the OTK BIA Sign Strategy (parking and directional signage), as well as the Installation of Crosswalks at Clothier and Prescott Streets, and at Prescott and Asa Streets.

Vice Chair Blair Hamilton gave the annual Financial Report, along with two proposed budgets for 2016. Budget A was tabled with the same estimated revenues as 2015. Budget B was also tabled, proposing additional revenue in the form of grant monies that the BIA is hoping to obtain from provincial and federal government sources. Some of these may include the Ontario Trillium Foundation (provincial), the Eastern Ontario Development Program (EODP – federal),  Rural Economic Development (RED – provincial), or Heritage Canada.

The BIA is hoping to use the grant money to start their ‘Heritage as a Driving Force’ initiative as a way to promote Old Town Kemptville, highlighting the historical aspects of the area. They are also hoping to have enough revenue to support a part time employee in order to have “boots on the ground.”

With the recent BIA Bylaw having been updated by the municipality, the OTK BIA Board now can have up to ten directors, including the Executive. With seven spots filled currently, Paul Hamilton of Kempten Realty was nominated and voted in to become the eighth. One of the main objectives behind expanding the number of directors on the Board of Management was to allow for succession planning. The idea is that the current Executive would work closely with the other directors on the Board, with the hope that the directors would eventually become the next executive when the current term is expired, or as people phase out of active duty.

A lively discussion during the AGM centred on the proposed expansion of the BIA into the Rideau and Sanders Streets triangle. A few attendees wanted to know why the expansion hadn’t already gone forward, with the work that had been done by the previous Board of Management. The current Board explained that the municipality had clarified their requirements so that moving forward with the expansion needed an evidence-based approach of support from the businesses involved. However, expansion will be included in the 2016 Business Plan, in the hopes that the credibility of the BIA in recruiting and retaining downtown businesses would encourage businesses outside of the current footprint to join. Meanwhile, the OTK BIA will promote the entire downtown, whether businesses are located within the footprint or not.

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