The Elmira BIA has come knocking.
The BIA has hired Janelle Wilkinson for the summer to conduct a survey of downtown businesses and local shoppers to figure out how to serve the community better.
“She’s going to be our voice and our face for the summer,” said Krista McBay, chair of the Business Improvement Area.
Wilkinson, a life science student at Queen’s University, has extensive volunteer experience but said she’s never done anything like this before.
“I thought it would be an interesting opportunity,” she said.
“Her main focus is to gather information for us because one of the things we struggle most with is communication with our members,” McBay said.
“We’ve tried over the years to gather a list of contact names and numbers and e-mail addresses so we can keep a regular communication line going, and it’s just been a horrific task.”
On top of collecting names and numbers, Wilkinson will be taking photos of storefronts and business owners. She’ll also be asking questions such as, how many years has the store been in business? What products or services does it offer? What are its hours of operation?
Using the photos and the answers from the questionnaire, the BIA is hoping to build a website that will serve as a local Yellow Pages.
“Hopefully the website will generate an image of the business and their top 10 items or what they’re known for … so we can advertise to our local consumers that you know what, you’ve got this downtown.”
When she’s knocked on all the doors downtown, Wilkinson is going to turn around and survey the shoppers. The BIA wants to know how people feel about downtown – what they like, what they dislike, and what hours they prefer to shop.
“We want young families, mature families, seniors; we want to get a good cross-section of the community and find out where are we letting them down,” McBay said.
Wilkinson will also be spreading the word about BIA events like the sidewalk sale and street festival in August.