Vankleek Hill business owners are opening their doors in a new way!

This year, everyone is invited to attend the Vankleek Hill Business and Merchant Association (BMA) Annual General Meeting happening on Monday, November 21, beginning at 6 p.m. But if you think this is a routine meeting, you need to guess again. The meeting will be an informal gathering with a chance to mingle and talk about what’s next for Vankleek Hill. What does 2023 look like?

But the most interesting part is this: those in attendance can add their names to initiatives that interest them.

Maybe you are new to the community and would like to volunteer at a local event, or be part of economic development brainstorming or you have an idea of your own for your new hometown!

The idea to bring business owners and the community together emerged at the BMA’s most recent executive board meeting. The current executive will continue for its second year of its term of office in 2023, so there are no elections happening on November 21, notes BMA co-president Louise Sproule.

Calling this a transitional year for the BMA, co-president Philippe Fortin says the BMA is thinking about its mission, which often seems to be multi-purpose.

“It’s a challenge to divide our time and energy. Some think we should be organizing events, others think we should be offering support for businesses or recruiting new businesses and there is the tourism focus and economic development. As a group of volunteers, a board can only take on so much. We thought we would open up this meeting to the community, to hear what they think and offer them the chance to have input and get involved with us,” Fortin said. A key to the future is ensuring that responsibilities and work load is distributed evenly, he notes.

“We don’t want to be in a situation where, for example, the BMA does everything. The executive board changes every two years and business owners go through changes where they might not be as available for a year or two due to varying business demands. Balancing one’s volunteer load in a reasonable way is vital if the BMA is continue,” Fortin said.

“Business owners already work hard to keep their doors open, but all of the extras that the BMA does are 100% volunteer-driven,” notes Sproule. “This is a chance for those who are interested in a strong community to come and find out more about what happens behind the scenes,” Sproule said.

“We all walk or drive by businesses on our Main Street several times per week and there are service providers and professionals at work in our town, too. In all, there are about 110 businesses operating in our immediate community. Business and community are inseparable,” Sproule says.

There will be a chance for community leaders to share info about their 2023 events and an opportunity for everyone to add their names to a volunteer sign-up — sometimes extra help on the day of an event is all that is needed to support organizers, which could include individuals, companies, or event planners.

Tickets cost $20 and include a beverage voucher and snacks (A Catered Affair), provided by the BMA. The event will take place at the Windsor Tavern.

Tickets go on sale Monday, November 7 and will be available at Jade Garden, the Windsor Tavern and at The Review in Vankleek Hill.