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A winning combination….

Municipality of Huron East in Spotlight

At 2016 National OBIAA Conference in London Ontario

OBIAA Award 1Business Improvement Area Associations across Canada are collectively an important resource to municipal councils and economic development departments with regard to education, partnership, and collaboration. And each year their National body recognizes excellence within its ranks. This year, the Municipality of Huron East is pleased to report it has been awarded top honours in two categories – “Art Unhinged” for Special Events & Promotions and “Win This Space”, as the top Business Retention & Expansion project.

Group photoComprehensive award submissions had to include digital imaging, information on Project Description, Funding, Impact, Participants/Partners, as well as details regarding Innovation, Replication, Representation, Outcomes, and Conclusions. The two initiatives submitted by the Huron East Economic Development Department obviously hit all the high notes with judges.

Ca Doig Maureen Agar Jan Hawley Alison Lobb“Knowing we can compete at a national level and win is very gratifying,” says Jan Hawley, Huron East’s Economic Development Officer. “With the Ontario Business Improvement Area Association creating a platform for such achievements, business groups in rural Ontario are able to showcase some of the innovative work being undertaken in their communities. For that, I am grateful, as is the Municipality.”

Seaforth BIA Events & Promotions 2016 OBIAA Award Submission copy 2.001

Seaforth BIA Events & Promotions 2016 OBIAA Award Submission copy 2.006“Art Unhinged” was an exceptional melding of Arts & Heritage and Fundraising. Talented artists used old doors as their canvases, creating beautiful art from and on them.

Seaforth BIA Events & Promotions 2016 OBIAA Award Submission copy 2.008Discarded doors became things of beauty—the ultimate recycling project.

Seaforth BIA Events & Promotions 2016 OBIAA Award Submission copy 2.009The re-purposed artwork doors were on display throughout Seaforth’s downtown core and were eventually auctioned off during an autumn event, with the proceeds being donated to the cost of replacing the aging roof of the town’s Round House, a unique octagonal building built in 1902, and still used today as an exhibition hall.

“Win This Space” also took something under-used and placed it front and centre before budding entrepreneurs.

Slide01Entrants in the contest were competing for a prize package that provided the leg-up all new businesses need: space, financing, education, advertising, and marketing.

Slide06The grand prize of funding for a year’s lease of a business site on the main street of Seaforth or Brussels, as well as the educational workshops offered, drew 28 entries, from which a panel of judges chose twelve business plans and ultimately, five finalists.

Slide28In addition to the winner, at least a dozen new businesses were launched in the area, encouraged and buoyed by the “Win This Space” initiative.


Slide16Both these projects proved to be catalysts for creativity, courage, and change while shining a spotlight on rural communities and their attributes—and they can be replicated by other towns and villages. Huron East is leading the way in ventures that become adventures. Congratulations all!



Jan Hawley, Economic Development Officer Municipality of Huron East jhawley@huroneast.com

Written for the Municipality of Huron East by Carolyn Parks Mintz

Photographs by Angela Smith Photography, Lynne Moreland, Westcoast Photography, Brenda Campbell, Director Seaforth BIA & Haley Whitelaw, Professor Fanshawe College