We can write an academic study on the many reasons that Business Improvement Districts are effective. We can pen essays on the subject or discuss the topic at length. The truth is that there is one reason why these associations are reshaping main streets all across North America.
The reason is money.
Without money, a BID is just another association led by people who are forced to knock on doors with hat in hand begging for the funding to do things that everyone wants done but aren’t willing to pay for. Weeks and months spent organizing bake sales and fundraisers lead to an entity ineffective in making real change.
The BID model requires business owners and others, depending on the particulars of the specific legislation, to pay into the association and allow directors and administrators to drive the bus. A levy is added onto property tax bills and payment is mandatory. The funds are then paid by the city, to the board of the BID, and the association is off to the races!
If you are told by business owners that you should just form a business association and allow businesses to opt in or out, RUN FOR THE HILLS!
I have seen both models in action. Under a business or neighborhood association, the same people fund every project. Interest often wanes and dissension quickly grows, as programs fail to get off the ground. What a business association can do in 10 years – a BID can often accomplish in 12 months.
I will go on and on about the many reasons that Business Improvement Districts work – and I believe in them all. However, without the part of the model that ensures consistent and fair funding, things break down in a hurry.