It's been an exciting past 12 months for the Heart of Orléans BIA, but not nearly as exciting as the year ahead promises to be.
Orléans Ward Coun. Bob Monette, Cardinal Creek Association president Sean Crossan, Heart of Orléans BIA executive director Jasmine Brown and Holiday Inn Express sales manager Véronique Boileau go over the BIA's annual report. Fred Sherwin/Photo
The Business Improvement organization, which covers the St. Joseph Boulevard corridor, held it's annual general meeting last night and the mood was positively upbeat -- and for good reason. The BIA is coming off a year in which it successfully launched a Framers Market near the Ray Friel Centre, and co-hosted the most successful food festival ever held in the east end.
The Orléans Ribfest, which was held Sept. 15-17 next to D'Arcy McGee's and the CineStarz building on Centrum Blvd., attracted over 17,000 people and was a huge success, despite a day-log downpour on the Saturday.
Hostyle Conditioning owner Curd Hos said his proudest moment as BIA chair this past year was sitting in the eating area at the Ribfest and watching the various activities going on around him.
"It was perfect and not just because I love ribs," said Hos. "The kids were having fun in the play area, a band was playng on stage and hundreds of people were enjoying their food. I thought, 'This what the Heart of Orléans is all about.'"
Besides the Ribfest, the BIA also organized a weekly market for the first time in the parking lot at the Ray Friel Centre. Both events will be coming back in 2017 along with several other new projects.
The BIA will begin publishing an e-magazine later this month, entitled "The Beat". According to BIA executive director Jasmine Brown, the online publication will include feature stories profiling local business owners in both French and English.
The BIA will also formalize its Business Ambassador program which teams up a board member with a business member and has them go out and approach non-members and tell them all about the many advantages of belonging to the organization.
The BIA is also looking to partner up with more local festivals in celebrating the 150th anniversary of Canada, and Brown expressed her desire to hold a Dinner Under the Stars event featuring local chefs at an unspecified location.
"I'd like to have it at a really cool outdoor location where people can dress up, and make it a real experience," said Brown, explaining that the event would likely be limited to 140 or 150 people.
With so much going on, and so much more in the planning stages, it's remarkable to think that the BIA is made up of one full-time diector, a part time office administrator, and an all volunteer board. What they all share is a passion for the community and an over abundance of energy. No doubt, they're going to need it.