As spending cuts start to bite, towns and cities may struggle to ensure that conditions remain favourable for healthy local enterprise. Such conditions are vital not only to maintain the capacity of the local economy to generate local jobs, opportunities and wealth, but also to contribute to the health of the public realm at large and to maintain civic belonging, pride and identity.
A key aspect of these conditions is the quality of the
- trading environment for local commerce, from the cleanliness and safety of high streets and city centre shopping areas
- events and attractions designed to ensure such environments remain popular and vibrant places.
Much of the responsibility for maintaining the quality of local commercial space has historically fallen to local authorities and partners. However, prompted by the latter's finite resources and a number of other motivating factors local businesses around the country have increasingly been stepping forward to take a greater share of this responsibility.
Galvanising local business in the face of spending cuts
Following their success in the US and Canada, "Business Improvement Districts" (BIDs) have flourished in the UK since their introduction in 2004. BIDs are defined commercial trading areas in which the local businesses provide funds and agree collectively on how they will invest in the quality of the trading environment in order to enhance their commercial prospects.
With numerous local improvements arising from BIDs' investments over recent years, but patchy take-up and an uncertain future for the initiative, the RSA convened a group of interested and expert parties for an exploratory seminar on the subject as part of its Enterprise programme.
The group were asked to consider whether and how BIDs schemes should expand in general, but with particular respect to their ambition and remit. Specifically, can and should BIDs more directly align their primary commercial interests with the interests of the local community? Would a more socially conscious BID still be viable commercially?
Business Improvement Districts seminar
The RSA seminar brought together a range of viewpoints from business, local government and community-based organisations to examine the role that BIDs might be able to play in strengthening the connection between business and the local community. The seminar explored the purpose and current functioning of BIDs and drew a number of conclusions as to how they should be developed in future.
|Business Improvement Districts: Connecting business and the community|
This document summarises the findings of the Business Improvement Districts seminar held at the RSA in June 2010. Read more about Business Improvement Districts: Connecting business and the community.