KBIA Ambassador: Week 1

 In Community

Hi. My name is Vimal Sivakumar. I am a fourth year professional communication at Ryerson University and I am also the summer student that has been hired to work with the Kleinburg Business Improvement Area (BIA). Over the next 8 or so weeks, I will be detailing my experiences in this organization for you all to see. Thank you for taking the time to read into my journey. Let’s get started…

Before I delve into my experience with the BIA, I have a separate point to make. It is crazy because even just walking into the Kline House for the first time was quite an experience in itself. A small, quaint building at the corner of Islington and Nashville, the size and uniqueness of the Kline House was something that I had rarely experienced before.

Coming here as a student from Ryerson University in downtown Toronto – surrounded by all the lights, glitz and the glamour – and as a resident of Thornhill, where I am surrounded by big box stores like Wal-Mart, getting a feel for a small-business-centric area like downtown Kleinburg was refreshing. Seeing how everyone seemed to know everyone and the community was so close-knit was an unusually amazing experience for me, and that was all before I started actually working with the BIA.

My first week as a summer student with the Kleinburg BIA was definitely yet another culture shock. As I had initially prepared myself for a summer with a stagnant schedule and consistent job responsibilities at some retail store or community centre, the BIA provided me with so many different things to do on a daily basis – even in week one.

Firstly, since I was new to the area and I would be working here for two months, the first thing I did was introduce myself to some of the business owners in the community — who I knew I would be working quite closely with during my time here. Unsurprisingly, everyone was very nice to me and although some were not particularly sure of the KBIA’s function in the area, the reception I received was outstanding.

One noteworthy inclusion in this week’s work was attending a Wednesday evening board meeting for the BIA. Although I was only present for about a half hour due to a prior commitment, in that half hour I learned a lot about the intricacies of the BIA, including valuable information about just how much work goes into planning for even small organizations – from budgeting to strategic decisions such as social media use. Beyond that, I missed the last 90 minutes of that meeting but I’ve already been informed that there is another board meeting on the first Wednesday of August so I am prematurely looking forward to that as a way to gain an even greater understanding of the BIA as an organization.

After those phases of my experience, which took place over portions of several days, things got really exciting for me – because that was when the real work began.

From starting to update the Kleinburg BIA’s 60+ business membership list to updating the website’s business directory and helping to beautify the area, it was clear almost immediately that there was a lot of responsibilities packed into this position.

While I really enjoyed the data driven work involved in updating the membership list and website directory, but had less fun doing the admittedly less glamourous beautification work, I appreciated being able to do both because it meant that I was not stuck in a stagnant job position where I am doing the same thing every day.

I’m constantly talking to people, getting to know the area and gaining an understanding of how an area so dependent on small business operates in a society consumed by big box Wal-Marts and retail giants like Vaughan Mills, which is a sight to see.

After just a week, this job is still very new to me so I’m honestly still adjusting to it and I hope to do so quickly in order to get into the full swing of things next week.

Anyways, with that, my first week as a summer student with the Kleinburg BIA was finished. Overall, I genuinely could not have been happier with my first week here. There was so much to do, so much information to take in and, ultimately, I already knew after one week that I was in for an exhilarating eight weeks with the Kleinburg BIA.

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Daytrip to Kleinburg, ON