by Erin Perkins
The Downtown Business Association is being revitalized.
In mid-May a dedicated group of business owners, including a representative from the Boundary Country Regional Chamber of Commerce and the City of Grand Forks, met to resurrect the committee for the third time at the request of the chamber.
“It’s important that our downtown works together as a unit,” said Cathy Korolek, the chamber’s representative on the committee and the owner of Heart n’ Sole Quilts in Grand Forks. “There’s new blood and businesses downtown. They are enthused and they want to show our community they are at the centre of the community.”
“We want to work on improving the communications between our business area merchants and organizations, and do collective marketing and promotion of our downtown area,” said Lynn Relph, owner of Lynden Tree Yarns and the committee’s chairperson.
In 1993 the Business Improvement Association was started. It fizzled out years later to be reintroduced in 2012 to coordinate business hours and events to encourage more people to shop downtown. The second attempt also fazed out for various reasons.
“[The committee] will be able to shape new ideas and work to develop our city as a destination,” Korolek said. “When you work together as a team you have more strength.”
While the chamber is responsible for promoting the Boundary as a whole, Korolek said a specialized committee like the Downtown Business Association can address the specific needs and concerns of downtown Grand Forks business owners.
“I think we need to make out-of-towners aware of the downtown and that there is more to Grand Forks than what is on the highway,” Relph said.
One of the most notable collaborations is in advertising downtown businesses to our American neighbours.
Since the Canadian dollar has dropped in value, both Korolek and Relph have seen an upswing in the number of American customers coming through their doors.
The committee also wants to host and work alongside annual events in Grand Forks, enhance the safety and security in the downtown core, attract and support new businesses, “spruce up the downtown empty buildings” and give the entire downtown a more “cohesive look”, Relph said.
Eventually the committee may also become a non-profit organization so they can qualify for government grants to fund projects and possibly hire an event coordinator, she added.
Now the committee has been formed, they strive to meet once a month and host two open meetings a year to include all downtown businesses and professionals located east on Highway 3 to Johnny’s Motel and the Omega Restaurant, west to Sixth Street, north to 75th Avenue and south to 72nd Avenue.
“It’s important to have a good system of communication in place,” said Relph. “We want feedback and suggestions too.”