Neighbourhood data boosts business insight

Deciding where to start a business is made easy with Bizmap says head of Business Improvement Area

Businesses in Marpole. Photo by Maxim Fossey
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Reported by Maxim Fossey

Small business owners can now easily access demographic data organized by neighbourhood to help them figure out where to set up shop, according to the head of the Marpole Business Improvement Area.

Claudia Laroye, executive director of the Marpole BIA, said Bizmap “is an invaluable tool” for businesses to research the community and understand who lives in their neighbourhood.

Laroye said business owners who are deciding where to locate can use Bizmap to determine “whether or not their business is going to find customers that are, say, within walking distance or that live close by, who would be interested in the product or services that they might want to provide, should they choose to locate in Marpole.”

Need for neighbourhood stats

Bizmap is a website created in collaboration between the City of Vancouver, Small Business BC and 16 Vancouver BIAs that organizes census data by neighbourhoods. Users can find information such as age, gender, education and income that creates a profile of neighbourhoods around commercial districts.

The current version of Bizmap was launched in December 2018, after a year of analysing and gathering updated information, Laroye said. An initial version was created in 2009 after the Mount Pleasant BIA identified a need for neighbourhood statistics in their area but couldn’t find any, said Peter Vaisbord, BIA program coordinator for the City of Vancouver.

The original Bizmap consisted of downloadable PDFs that could not be updated. The information became outdated and was eventually taken down.

The price of information

Vaisbord said Bizmap cost roughly $98,000 to create. The City of Vancouver contributed 50 per cent, or about $49,000, using the city’s Innovation Fund. The 16 Vancouver BIAs who participated each paid about $3,000.

Monique Koningstein, who represents the Victoria Drive BIA, said they chose not to participate in the Bizmap program because of the cost. She said as a small BIA, they’ve committed to keeping their fees down for members.

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