North Shore Business Improvement Association Validates Return on Investment

With the creation of the North Shore Business Improvement Association (NSBIA) in 1988, the City of Kamloops gained a dedicated resource to ensure a vibrant business corridor on the Thompson River’s North Shore.

The organization grew steadily in scope and membership. “We made a major shift from a marketing and public relations organization to an advocacy organization,” says Jeremy Heighton, Executive Director of the NSBIA. “Revenues doubled and staff grew to eight full time, part-time and contract positions. We have housing, recreation facilities, a diverse shopping district, and over 40 restaurants. The North Shore is on the map as a vibrant community and a great place to do business.”

“As a BIA, we felt we were moving in the right direction,” adds Heighton, whose background includes organizational dynamics, systems design, and leadership development, “but clear, concise and objective data was needed to validate our successes, make necessary changes and decide where we would go from here.”

Importance of Data 

Coinciding with the 2020 renewal of NSBIA ‘s five-year contract with the City of Kamloops, the association conducted a Membership Engagement and Return on Investment (ROI) Project to gain insight on the role and purpose of the organization. Return on investment is the key measure of the profit derived from an investment. “BIAs that identify and communicate solid ROI metrics have more relevance to stakeholders, form collaborative relationships, have stronger brand awareness, and are more effective in their advocacy work,” says Heighton.

The Economic Trust of the Southern Interior (ETSI-BC) supported the project through its Building Economic Development Capacity funding stream, recognizing its potential to attract new business investment to the North Shore and support long-term job creation. The funding enabled the association to hire Amplify Consulting, specialists in engagement and communications, to coordinate a detailed survey of the NSBIA’s 423 stakeholders (occupants of commercial space) and 299 shareholders (investors in real property).

The survey questions focussed on strengthening competitiveness, value for shareholders and stakeholders, and operational excellence.

Response to the survey was high: 66 percent of shareholders and 34 percent of stakeholders participated through one-to-one and phone interviews, email and focus groups over 12 weeks. The final report identified many positives about the NSBIA’s work including access to Kamloops’ large potential customer base, a diverse business community, affordability, and the potential for growth on the North Shore. Respondents valued the organization’s advocacy work and felt they were well informed about its activities.

As far as changes or improvements, respondents wanted to hear more about the BIA’s successes including member profiles, advocacy campaigns, commercial inventory listings, networking opportunities, and updates on safety issues and growth plans. The need for improvements to transportation and infrastructure were also cited, and respondents wanted the association to be more efficient and proactive in dealing with government.

The information was used to produce separate ROI metrics for shareholders and stakeholders as well as ROIs they had in common. The project also helped the NSBIA determine the best ways to communicate the data to members and stakeholders including targeted presentations and newsletters.

Valuable Tool for Economic Development Planning

The survey data is a valuable tool to inform the City of Kamloops’ economic development programming and maximize capacity on the North Shore. The survey process and final report are also available to new and existing BIAs, and communities looking to start a BIA.

“With the support of ETSI-BC on this project, our work has been validated and we’ve identified specific areas to work on. With this solid foundation, the NSBIA will continue to drive growth and prosperity in Kamloops,” says Heighton.

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