Is a business improvement district (BID) a good thing for business or a bad thing for business?
Firstly, to explain what a BID is, will help those that are not entirely sure what it is…A Business Improvement District is a defined area within which businesses pay a levy in order the fund projects within the same pre-define area.
The most important point to understand about a BID is that 100% of the funds raised via the levy will be used for projects and services identified and included within the business plan, where what is included in this business plan in the first instance is done via consultation with businesses within the define area.
In most cases a service level agreement will be put in place between the BID and the Local Council, so that agreement is reached from the outset, as to what the council will be responsible for in order to avoid the BID having to pay for services that should already be paid for in the first place, like road surfacing for example.
The investment fund raised by the BID will then be allocated to projects and/or services over and above what the council is responsible for.
What I like about BIDs, as a business owner and the Chair of a BID in the making, is the chance to improve in our case the industrial estate where 300+ businesses and over 3,500 employees work. Also, we will have a much stronger voice, as a collective of 300+ businesses, with the Local Councils, the Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) and other important key stakeholders for the growth of businesses and for the benefit of employees as a whole.
Key areas that our BID process has highlighted, with input from businesses on the Estate, is to improve the estate’s security by using for example, number plate recognition. It also became apparent that broadband was extremely high on peoples agenda and we have set about to speak to the ‘powers at be’ to improve on this for our industrial estate. Other important topics and projects include enhancing the image of the estate with improved signage and to provide better transport links for employees reaching the estate.
The BID will also be in a position to enable support functions, which will benefit all businesses on the estate, along with the provision of an online directory and an inter-trading platform between businesses.
The reason that I put myself forward as Chair of the BID where my main business resides, is that I could see the real benefit to businesses on the Estates of having a shared voice of 300 plus businesses. Also, by each business paying over a relatively small level of investment individually, when combined produces over £600,000 of investment over a five-year period. It is already apparent, from our early discussions, that we will also be getting joint funding on projects, which will effectively increase the £600k pot and, as a result, lead to even better investment.
If you are a town centre or an industrial estate like us looking at the opportunity of setting up a BID, please do not hesitate to contact me for help and advice. At the point of writing this article, we are going forward to further consultations with the ballot to be held in June/July 2014 to implement the BID.
I am hopeful, with the positive feedback thus far, that we will succeed in forming our BID going forward.