The Role of Business Improvement Areas in Community Economic Development: An exploratory study of BIAs in Toronto
Business improvement areas (BIAs) has been a widely utilized tool by municipalities to tackle a range of community issues and support economic revitalization. The purpose of this study was to asses whether their role in revitalization efforts by examining their level of involvement in CED and community engagement. The findings suggested that BIAs were most involved in CED that appeared to directly benefit the needs of members, but there their involvement in these activities is likely to help support economic revitalization. With regards to community engagement, the findings found that BIA engaged with a diversity of stakeholders including community groups and residents, but did not appear to collaboratively work together to resolve community issues. Three recommendations outlined by this research that can potentially help increase BIAs level of involvement and effectiveness in CED are: (1) BIAs can play a more active role in supporting entrepreneurship and job creation, (2) municipalities must identify the specific outcomes that BIAs are best suited to support revitalization efforts and (3) incentivize and support BIAs to achieve those desired outcomes.