Starting a Business Improvement District: Five tips in the early days

You see issues in your area that need to be addressed and improvements that can be made. Perhaps your area of town is falling behind others? It might be time to get the ball rolling on starting a Business Improvement District.

Here are five easy first steps to get you on your way.

  1. Learn about the program. Very few people will understand the details of your city’s Business Improvement District program. Many will know nothing about it. Know every benefit, the exact costs, the role of your future Board, and what is required for approval. If your area doesn’t yet have a program, look for programs in nearby cities, states or provinces. If a program is not yet in place, you’ll have to start communicating with your local elected city or town officials, and economic development leaders. A few meetings will get the ball rolling.
  2. Find champions. There are business owners in your area on the same page as you. Queitly talk to them about what needs to be accomplished. Talk openly about the opposition that might occur. Your group of strength, which will likely morph into your initial steering committee, should be strong.
  3. Communicate with others. Each of you have a circle of others who may be interested in this concept. Talk to them about the initial stages and start planting the seed by asking what they are hoping to see resolved.
  4. Invite people to attend your steering committee meetings. If opposition appears at these meeting you can control the message and deal with fears in a reasonable way, If opposition first appears at public meetings, it has a greater chance of forming into meaningful resistance.
  5. Deal with rumours. One person telling others about what they believe to be your negative intentions or sinister motive can spread very quickly. You may not be able to convince the people leading the opposition of your Business Improvement District, but one on one with, you have a good chance of convincing those they are getting to. If claims are ridiculous, clear the air with truth.

About Darryl Kaplan

Darryl Kaplan is a public speaker, author and advocate who believes that the BIG IDEA will save Main Street and create a new revolution in local living. An entrepreneur with a passion for small business and retail, Kaplan founded the Baby Point Gates Business Improvement Area in Toronto, and currently sits as its Chair. He was elected to the Executive Committee of the Toronto Association of Business Improvement Areas - an organization that represents 81 BIAs and 35,000 small businesses. A multiple award winner in communications, magazine writing and editing, Kaplan has had hundreds of columns and editorials published nationally.

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