Centretown BIA officially launches with new look, strategic plan

Centretown BIA Launch event
Centretown BIA officially launched its new name and look on Wednesday. Photo by Mia Jensen

The Bank Street BIA has officially rebranded and will now be known as the Centretown BIA. 

The new name and look for the organization were unveiled Wednesday at an official launch event at the Staples store on Bank Street, with local business owners and leaders in attendance to commemorate the occasion. 

According to executive director Christine Leadman, the change allows the BIA to better represent its members while adjusting to a changing business landscape. 

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“Every area goes through ebbs and flows, and we’re going through a period of transition,” said Leadman. “This strategy we’ve been working on is a natural step for us to recognize that our world is changing, and we need to adjust to ensure we thrive and grow for our members and our community at large.”

The decision to rebrand is an extension of the BIA’s work during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. According to Leadman, the BIA was asked by the federal government to assist businesses outside of its boundaries in completing grant applications. That sparked a conversation about expanding the BIA’s reach and engaging with more community members. 

“We stepped up to the plate because we knew the businesses needed support,” she said. “At the same time, throughout that, so did the community. And we’ve been at the table with them for the last few years to see how we make things better and easier for our communities to grow.”

Expanding to include more businesses across the area is a process that’s expected to take at least two years, according to Leadman. The organization is looking at expanding its boundaries to include businesses on Somerset Street, Gladstone Avenue, Flora Street, Laurier Avenue, Albert Street, Arlington Avenue, Catherine Street, Kent Street and O’Connor Street, with the goal of eventually reaching 1,000 members. 

Leadman said the BIA is working in step with the Sparks Street BIA, which is also looking at expanding its boundaries. 

The name change, from Bank Street to Centretown BIA, serves the dual purpose of capitalizing on the area’s well-known reputation while also better describing its boundaries, which are often confused with the Glebe.

“The brand needed to be reflective of who we are and where we go,” said Leadman. “A new Centretown brand is that representation, with the slogan ‘Uncommon to the core.’ We are diverse, we are unique, and we play an important role to help the health and growth of our city.”

The BIA partnered with local marketing agency Karma Dharma to create the new branding as well as formulate a new strategic plan. 

The company also helped the BIA launch its new look, which includes a colourful wordmark logo.

“When thinking about the design, we wanted to think about how it could really represent the vitality, the vibrancy, the diversity. We came up with this play on a window. It’s meant to be so any canvas can be put behind it,” said Karma Dharma chief experience officer Karen Bramhill. 

“It’s not static; it will constantly change whatever’s represented behind it, because that’s how we see ourselves, as evolving, as growing, as shifting with the times.”

The BIA’s 10-year strategic plan, which was also announced at the event, lays out specific goals aimed at growing the neighbourhood’s business community and revitalizing the area post-pandemic. 

They include building eight new green spaces, improving neighbourhood wayfinding signage and introducing three new environmental and cleanliness initiatives to make the area more welcoming and safe. 

As part of its goal to strengthen the business landscape, the BIA is aiming for a zero per cent business vacancy rate in the neighbourhood, with a target ratio of 80 per cent eclectic specialist shops to 20 per cent big-box and franchise stores. 

As a means of becoming more active within the community, the group also hopes to double its social media engagement, host two to three major events per year and increase the number of incentives and services available to members.  

It also intends to push for policy changes on issues such as affordable housing, addiction, cleanliness and public safety, while also hosting two to three roundtables throughout the year on key advocacy areas. 

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