The BID Foundation has launched this week to meet challenges facing high streets and commercial districts up and down the country. Against a backdrop of ever more difficult trading conditions and local government cuts, the new industry-led body will help Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) manage town and city centre retail, leisure, and other commercial areas more effectively.
The BID Foundation is an alliance of leading BIDs and the Institute of Place Management at Manchester Metropolitan University, which has been appointed as its independent operator. The BID Foundation was set up in response to wide-scale consultation and is led by an elected council of 14 BID chief executives from across the country.
Commenting on the launch, Andrew Cooper, Chair of The BID Foundation and CEO of Leeds BID, said: “BIDs will now be able to work together more successfully to encourage change and investment in our town and city centres. We want BIDs to make an even more significant contribution locally and nationally and we need to engage more meaningfully with local and national governments and the wider business community to do that.”
The new industry body will provide strategic direction and practical support to BIDs. It will champion the revitalisation of the high street and commercial areas by raising standards, sharing knowledge and resources, and building a trusted and representative voice.
The BID concept started 15 years ago in the UK, with the operational priorities of making areas cleaner, safer and more attractive. This remit has matured, meaning BIDs are increasingly working with local partners to influence the economic development of the areas they manage and address big issues such as rough sleeping.
Stefan Gurney, Vice Chair of The BID Foundation and executive director of Norwich BID, said: “It is great to be at the forefront of setting the vision and strategy for the future direction of the BIDs industry. The BID Foundation has been developed by the BID community and we aim to represent the industry with a clear, collaborative voice.”
The Institute of Place Management will provide specialist support and accreditation to members of The BID Foundation to ensure consistent high standards of operation, accountability, and transparency. BIDs will also draw on innovation and research insights from the Institute to inform their future business plans.
According to recent research from the Institute, the fundamental reason many commercial areas are struggling, is that decision makers and stakeholders do not adapt effectively to ongoing changes because they do not act collectively. BIDs provide this essential collaborative approach because they are business-led partnerships where retailers and other services pay an additional levy to fund a collective business plan aimed at improving a specific area.
Chair of the Institute of Place Management, Professor Cathy Parker said: “We know how important BIDs are and The BID Foundation offers a way to increase both the local impact of each BID involved and further develop the model as a trusted form of urban management.”
The BID Foundation is open to membership from any operating BID. More details are available at http://www.thebidfoundation.com/