BIDs and BIAs do work. This is being proven around the world as the movement grows at an incredible rate. Here are five reasons why Business Improvement Districts work:
- They do it for free: Most of the many thousands of people around the world who work for these organizations do it for no pay and for little credit. They do the work they do to make a difference to their communities. The motivation is often simply about the health and vibrancy of an area, but the long term positive impacts of their work will be felt for generations.
- Access. Cities and local government officials love collectives – groups that can speak on behalf of a number of people. You complain there are too many bike lanes and your neighbour says there aren’t enough. A BID develops a position and can speak to it. Thus the people who might ignore you will listen to your BID. More importantly community consensus creates a common direction.
- Leverage: BIDS can leverage the money of their members in ways that associations and individual businesses never could. They are taken seriously and can often turn $1 invested into $3 spent. Business Improvement Districts generally have a funding mechanism that guarantees funding to an area. No longer are organizations forced to spend time raising funds or passing the hat. They can get down to the business of improving an area.
- Attention: BIDS have the ability to get media exposure. They come to the table in a position of strength and representing many. Thus they are listened to and reported on. Generally the BID is the go to group for media comment in the area. But more proactive Business Improvement Districts get in front of the media, developing positions on larger town and city issues. Their voice can be quite powerful.
- Horsepower: When a BID walks into a corporation or a potential partner’s office, they are treated differently. BIDs have a different tone and energy than a typical community group, and are treated differently. They come with money in the bank, a Board supported by the businesses in the area and a real influence and meaningful relationship with Town or City Council. They have a voice.
As cities and towns increasingly opt to spend funds on “essentials,” the essentials of a great place get lost in the shuffle. Business Improvement Districts are vital in ensuring that doesn’t happen.