BIA cutting co-ordinator

Duane Hicks

FORT FRANCES—As part of its recent restructuring, the local Business Improvement Association has opted to move forward without a co-ordinator at the helm—and use the savings towards larger projects in the future.
Current BIA co-ordinator Patti Anderson will remain on the job until July 21.
BIA chair Connie Cuthbertson said the board had been mulling its options for months now, and recently decided to definitely go ahead without the position.
“For the last few years, we’ve been trying to come up with a project, or some kind of plan, to do something or build something constructively downtown,” she noted.
“We did some of the mural projects and that sort of thing, but we wanted to do something a bit bigger in scale.
“It came right down to simply dollars and cents,” Cuthbertson added. “We can get matched money for projects but, of course, if you have a bigger pot to start with, you get a bigger matched piece.
“We were stymied really. We tried to think of exactly what direction was necessary.
“We looked back to the original inception of the board, and I talked to some of those that were involved at that time, so how it all began, the reasons behind it, because I came into the picture well after it started,” Cuthbertson said.
“So I wanted to be thinking of things in a well-informed manner.”
The BIA has an annual budget of just over $50,000, which is derived from a self-imposed tax on the downtown businesses.
“It’s an additional tax we have imposed upon ourselves to pool our money and resources to, in fact, do things to help this particular part of the [downtown] area,” Cuthbertson explained.
“It’s our plan in the future to expand that area but, like I say, you have to start somewhere, and this was the first step of the game, I guess,” she reasoned.
The BIA has been approved for a grant to do a study to create a “market square”-type area somewhere in the downtown core, and is hoping to apply for a loan through the Rainy River Future Development Corp. for matching funds.
But Cuthbertson said the BIA membership also is being asked to generate more ideas.
“I am still of the mindset that I’d like to have as many ideas out there as we can possibly get,” she stressed.
She’d also like to see some other ideas on the backburners to get started on once the first one is being completed so there will be a “natural flow” from one project to the next.
(Fort Frances Daily Bulletin)