How a BIZ works
A Business Improvement Zone (BIZ) is a non-profit association of business owners in a particular area of Winnipeg who seek to promote the area as a positive environment for businesses. Through a BIZ, local businesses can share ideas on how to attract clients and customers, undertake physical improvements to the areas they work in and market themselves. There are 16 operational BIZs in Winnipeg, with the West End BIZ covering the largest area.
Member businesses (excluding non-profits) within the area pay a BIZ levy which is based on their annual rental value (ARV). Each year, the BIZ determines its programming needs and sets the budget accordingly. The city applies an appropriate percentage to the ARV to generate the needed funds. Thus, the BIZ levy changes from year to year. The city collects and remits this levy to the BIZ and the BIZ board carries out its programming for the year.
Although the levy is collected by the City of Winnipeg, a BIZ is independent and not a department of the city.
How the West End BIZ is operated
The West End BIZ is operated by a volunteer Board of Management comprised of thirteen members, twelve of whom are local business owners and one of whom is the city councillor for the area. Board Members (other than the city councillor) are elected at the Annual General Meeting held each year. They are elected for a two-year term and can serve up to three consecutive terms before having to step down to take a minimum one-year break. The Executive of the Board of Management is appointed at the first board meeting held in January of each year. Any owner or employee of a member business is eligible for election to the board of management. Contact the BIZ office or visit www.westendbiz.ca for details.
The Executive Director and staff create and oversee all year-round programs, initiatives and projects in the areas of street enhancement, marketing and safety. Student crews help out in the summer. BIZ staff also conduct research, assist BIZ members with concerns and advocate for the area.
The BIZ also has active volunteer committees comprised of board members, local business owners and area stakeholders. These committees help guide staff, review programs and take on other duties. The three West End BIZ committees include Promotion & Development, Community Connecting and Image & Safety.
What a BIZ does
The West End BIZ develops programs and initiatives to improve the business environment within its boundaries. Typical activities include street enhancement, safety initiatives and marketing. The BIZ helps promote the strengths, attractions and unique features of its district to encourage visitors to enjoy the shopping, dining and recreation offered in the area. The BIZ encourages new businesses to establish themselves in their neighbourhood. The West End is home to over 36,000 residents, many of whom also work in the area and take advantage of its unique shops and services.
The physical appearance of a business district is important to attracting customers. The BIZ funds streetscaping and other beautification projects, including flower planters and hanging baskets, murals, graffiti removal and general neighbourhood clean-ups and maintenance. Individual businesses are also encouraged to undertake improvements to their own storefronts to further spruce up the area.
On behalf of the businesses, the BIZ markets and promotes the benefits of the West End and its businesses. Newsletters, publications, an ongoing marketing campaign and media coverage of the West End further reinforce a positive image of the area and promote the BIZ zone.
Improving the safety of the area is accomplished through the distribution of safety grants, education of business owners regarding safety and crime prevention techniques and a BIZ Community Safety Patrol.