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Ontario’s Business Improvement Areas (BIAs) are municipal organizations that provide a range of services and enhancements to enhance the commercial district of a community. BIAs are funded through a special levy on commercial properties within their designated boundaries. These resources provide financial support that enhances the economic vitality of a community.

In addition to property tax levies, BIAs also have access to a variety of other funding opportunities, including grants and other sources of funding. These funding opportunities may be available at the regional, provincial, or federal level, and can provide the resources necessary for BIAs to undertake new projects or initiatives.

Here we will discuss some of the most common sources of funding for BIAs within the province of Ontario.

Provincial Grant Programs

The Province of Ontario recognizes the importance of BIAs and supports their work through several different grant programs. One notable example is the Main Street Relief Grant, which was implemented in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The grant provides up to $1,000 to small businesses within BIAs to offset costs associated with PPE, property taxes, or other expenses related to adapting to the COVID-19 environment.

Another provincial grant program that BIAs may be eligible for is the Ontario Trillium Foundation (OTF). OTF is an independent agency of the Ontario government that provides funding to eligible organizations to support community-building initiatives. BIAs can apply to the OTF for funding to support their projects and programs, including those aimed at creating vibrant commercial districts.

Federal Grant Programs

There are also several federal grants available to BIAs that are designed to support local economic development initiatives. One such program is the Canada Small Business Financing Program. This program provides loans of up to $1 million to small businesses, with BIAs acting as the intermediary for loan distribution. BIAs can also apply to the Community Economic Development and Diversification Program, which provides funding for projects that support economic growth and job creation in a community.

Private Sector Partnerships

Another way for BIAs to secure funding for their initiatives is by forming partnerships with private sector organizations. Large corporations or industry associations may be interested in supporting initiatives that align with their goals or business objectives. These partnerships can provide access to funding, expertise, or other resources that can support the work of the BIA.


BIAs can also fundraise within the community to support their projects and initiatives. Events such as street fairs or festivals can generate revenue that can be reinvested into the community. Crowdfunding platforms such as Kickstarter or GoFundMe can also be used to raise funds for specific projects. Fundraising efforts can also generate community support and involvement, a key factor in the success of BIAs.

In conclusion, BIAs in Ontario have access to a range of funding opportunities that can support their work in creating vibrant commercial districts that support local businesses and enhance the overall economic vitality of their communities. By leveraging these funds, BIAs can undertake new initiatives and projects that can contribute to the growth and prosperity of their communities.

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