What is a Business Improvement District?
A Business Improvement District (BID) is a precisely defined geographical area of a town, city, or commercial district where business ratepayers are invited to vote to invest collectively in local improvements that are additional to those currently provided by local government.
Business ratepayers are asked to vote on an additional levy that, if supported, will be collected in a ring-fenced account and then used to finance the delivery of projects, services and activities detailed in their own Business Plan.
Why Does Ulverston need a BID?
BIDs are business-led initiatives taking advantage of government legislation that gives local businesses the power to raise their own funds to spend on their priorities in order to improve their trading environment. Ulverston BID is an investment scheme where local businesses collectively agree on the priorities and how to invest their money to benefit themselves, their staff, their customers and, as a consequence, the town as a whole.
The findings of the survey of businesses in Ulverston revealed two important points:
1. Large numbers of businesses in the town share a common concern about a number of issues which could be addressed through collective action.
2. There is considerable potential for growth within the local economy which could be released by taking action together.
On the first point, investment is needed to help the town to adapt to inevitable changes and deal with an increasingly competitive environment. In particular these changes include the rapid growth in online retailing, the increasingly well organised competition from neighbouring towns and cities, and the continuing impact of large supermarkets and retail parks.
To be more effective, the investment requires a more proactive and cohesive approach, where the whole business community feels involved, where collaboration brings with it the benefits of shared experience, and the pooling of resources brings the required economies of scale to have much more impact at lower per capita cost. Frankly, the alternative is to continue with a reactive and piecemeal approach, dependent on the goodwill of a handful of individual businesses taking ad hoc action as time and resources allow, and where planned investments are too often dependent on the availability of increasingly scarce public resources. On the second point, this BID proposal is timely, by seeking to maximise the benefits from exciting plans to expand the opportunities for well-paid, skilled employment in the town. Ulverston really must be seen as a desirable place to live and work, and raise its profile and its image to help the town’s employers meet the challenge of recruiting skilled labour to the town. This presents an exciting and extraordinary opportunity for the town and one which could benefit from the Ulverston BID as an important catalyst to stimulate wider economic activity and growth in the town.
"I think the BID is a fantastic idea. It gives local people an opportunity to make a difference in our community. We will be able to spend this extra revenue to add value to make Ulverston an even more vibrant destination. local people know where we need to invest and have a greater interest in the outcome, rather than government bodies investing in the wrong areas and wasting money! When it is our money we can spend it where it is needed we MAKE THE CHoICE.”
ANITA GARNETT, Ulverston Brewing Company