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Downtown Business Association shutting down, transferring funds to Regional Chamber of Commerce

Money will “stay downtown” according to Boundary Country Regional Chamber of Commerce

After many years of operation, Grand Forks’ Downtown Business Association (DBA) will be dissolving.

The volunteer-run organization was a collective of business owners who worked together to host events and activities that promoted Grand Forks’ downtown core.

In the past, the organization has also helped cultivate new businesses by assisting with rent.

The organization will be transferring its funds — more than $31,000 — to the Boundary Country Regional Chamber of Commerce (BCRCC). The Regional Chamber of Commerce is a provincially registered society and is part of the BC Chamber of Commerce as well as the Canadian Chamber of Commerce.

Although a complete breakdown of sources for the funds is unclear, at least some of the money came from the association’s independent fundraising and some from a fee-for-service agreement with the city of Grand Forks.

Although the money has transferred hands, the BCRCC plans to use the funds to invest in the community it came from.

“That money will stay downtown,” Sarah Dinsdale, the executive director of the BCRCC said.

After consultation with some of Grand Forks’ downtown businesses, the chamber’s current plan is to invest in lighting upgrades.

“It will be both a beautification project as well as a security project,” Dinsdale said.

Beyond the immediate job of putting the remainder association’s money to use, the BCRCC hopes to continue taking steps to help Grand Forks’ downtown core improve.

“The (Boundary Country Regional) Chamber of Commerce has stepped in to say they know there’s a void,” Dinsdale said. “We’re going to set up our own committee to serve the same purpose.”

The dissolution of the DBA was driven in part by a lack of resources and personpower.

“I imagine it became difficult for business owners — who have their own focuses — to take on the extra work of running the association,” Dinsdale said.

Dinsdale hopes that the BCRCC can offer some relief to the business owners who took on the task of running the DBA.

“We have resources and paid staff so we can hopefully take some of the pressure off of those business owners.”

Moving forward, Dinsdale says the BCRCC plans to use its resources to apply for grants from the provincial and federal governments.

Dinsdale also encouraged business owners to attend meetings with the chamber to offer their input on what they think downtown Grand Forks could benefit from. A meeting has been planned with the Grand Forks city councillors in March.

Anyone interested in getting involved is encouraged to contact Shaun Aquiline, the owner of the Gem Theatre; or Dinsdale herself.