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She’s young, she’s passionate and she’s excited to help people think local.
Morgan Richter is the new manager of the Downtown Huntsville BIA, a role she was recently selected for in an interview process following the departure of the organization’s executive director, Helena Renwick. The business group isn’t new to Richter, though—she was the BIA co-ordinator from July to November of last year, a role she shared with Lizzie Robinson, and in November was hired as the BIA assistant. But her new position will allow her to really dig in to one of her passions: community development.
Richter plans to build on the strides the BIA has already made with its signature events—adding more vendors to the popular Muskoka 2/4 Craft Beer Festival, continuing the long-running Midnight Madness, giving more of a festival feel to the annual Sidewalk Sale, and expanding upon the new Macaroni Festival which had its inaugural event in 2018—while also working to bring more people to downtown Huntsville, particularly the under-30 crowd.
“I think there’s room for that, bringing more younger people downtown,” says Richter. “Keeping [events] family-friendly, but also creating a bit more of a music scene and a food scene. I think there’s a ton of ways to bring different demographics downtown…and lots of opportunities to do smaller scale events.”
The BIA will also continue to coordinate with local organizations on other downtown events, like the Huntsville Lake of Bays Chamber of Commerce for the annual Maple Festival which is coming up on April 27, and Huntsville Festival of the Arts which produces Nuit Blanche North, Music at Noon, and this year is partnering with Band on the Run for a post-race afternoon music festival.
Richter’s thrilled that more restaurants have been popping up downtown, which fits into her vision for an expanded food scene in Huntsville’s core. In the last year or so, six eateries have opened or changed hands—The Artisan House (formerly La Dolce Vita Trattoria), Huntsville Brewhouse, Marigold Indian restaurant, I My Thai (formerly Bo’s Thai), Mottbora Sushi (which started out as Wabora Come and See and later changed its name in a trademark dispute), and Affogato Café and Gelato (formerly a market run by That Little Place by the Lights, which has retained its Main Street presence)— and just across the swing bridge, Canvas Brewing Co. is slated to open sometime this year.
Part of her role is communication between BIA members, residents and the municipality. And with some major infrastructure projects coming to King William Street and Main Street—including a new streetscape project—in the next couple of years, keeping everyone informed will a big part of what she does.
“I think people are are looking for a bit of a refresher for downtown,” says Richter, adding that it’s already begun with the new restaurants and will continue with the streetscape project.
The 26-year-old is an International Development graduate from the University of Guelph, specializing in Rural and Agricultural Studies. After graduation, Richter returned to Huntsville and spent several years helping build the Muskoka North Good Food Co-op, including developing connections with small business owners. She has future aspirations to be an entrepreneur herself, something she’s already begun on a smaller scale with her catering business, Lilac Local Source. She was also named a regional champion for Food Secure Canada’s Youth Caucus last year.
And Richter says she is excited to continue making local connections on behalf of the BIA merchants.
“As a young person living in Muskoka, I’m honoured to do the job and I think it says a lot about the BIA,” she says. “I have a lot to learn, as anybody would, but I think I have a lot to offer as a younger person trying to create a career. This is a perfect fit for me because I’m very interested in all aspects of the BIA: communication, supporting local, event planning, working with the town, and understanding what’s going on in my community… I hope that I can help spur some more creative thinking in the long term.”