Business Improvement Districts

This collection of articles reflects the evolution of Business Improvement Districts from their early days in the United States when they were typically formed in large urban centers whose stakeholders were sufficiently concerned about the effect of “crime and grime” on their businesses and property values that they were willing to share the costs of remedial measures. Although BID experience in Canada had preceded the first American examples, the early ventures in the US were launched with little guidance. Earlier urban renewal programs were thought to have made things worse and Chambers of Commerce and merchant associations were toothless talk shops without useful resources. Voluntary activities, here and in Great Britain, produced little money and a significant group of freeloaders.

The elements remain simple: an organization representing diverse economic interests plans and manages a budget based on a compulsory charge adopted by local government. The investments are intended to advance business profitability and property values.

BIDs have generally been successful at:

  1. Creating a favorable identity appealing to customers, visitors and investors;
  2. Upgrading the appearance through  improved lighting, landscaping, façade improvements on commercial properties;
  3. Generating activity.

They have not, however, been universally successful.

  1. Many lack clear economic goals, opening their treasuries to unessential claims;
  2. Boards of Directors often fail to reconsider program emphases that may have become obsolete;
  3. Few BIDs extend their influence beyond basic safe-clean-marketing when their commercial centers require leadership, expertise and some funding for redevelopment, planning and strategic property investments;
  4. Having demonstrated that commercial areas are more valuable because of BID initiatives, few if any have negotiated transfers of responsibilities to general purpose governments;
  5. After about ten years of favorable media treatment, BIDs rend to rest on their laurels. Repeating last year’s activities are easy choices because there is little tension in these decisions.

Chapter 1: Partnering Local Governments and Businesses

Chapter 2: Capitalist Tool

Chapter 3: Betting on BIDs

Chapter 4: Are BIDs Working?

Chapter 5: BIDs Come to Britain

Chapter 6: BIDs at Home and Abroad

Chapter 7: Gotham Gets Civil

Chapter 8: BIDs Growing Pains

Chapter 9: Smart Money

Chapter 10: The Future of BIDs: Smaller and More Creative

Chapter 11: Voluntary BIDs Lack Equity, Reliability

Chapter 12: Creative” Investments Will Be Key to Long-Term BID Success

Chapter 13: BIDs and Main Street

Chapter 14: Future of BIDs…Partnerships

Chapter 15: BIDs and Urban Entertainment Zones

Chapter 16: True Grit

Chapter 17: BID Book Promos

Chapter 18: The Attraction of Arts

Chapter 19: BIDs: Encompassing Residential As Well As Commercial Properties

Chapter 20: Every Five Years, a Fresh Start

Chapter 21: BIDs and the Shape of American Cities

Chapter 22: Face Time is Key to Successful BID Start-Up

Chapter 23: Downtowns and BIDs can do more…

Chapter 24: What We Don’t Know Drexel

Chapter 25: Lost Lessons from American BIDs

Chapter 26: BIDs Face the Recession

Chapter 27: Too Much Cleaning?

Chapter 28: King of Prussia BID Approved

Chapter 29: BID Success: Are We Happy Yet?

Chapter 3o: Urban Awakening

Chapter 31: Do BIDs Reduce Crime or Fear?

Chapter 32: Crime and Fear: Yesterday’s Problems?

Chapter 33: Where We Are and Where We Are Going: Ten Clues for Planners

Chapter 34: Viewpoint: $20 Gas

Chapter 35: When Business Buys Transit

Chapter 36: Car Sharing

Chapter 37: Living in the Center: What Explains the Downtown Housing Boom?

Chapter 38: Neighborhood Improvement District Explored for University City

Chapter 39: BIDs: Partnering for Economic Development

Chapter 40: Economic Development (book review)

Chapter 41: Small Downtown-Affordable Solutions to an Expensive Problem, the Fear of Crime

Chapter 42: Innovations: Not Your Usual BIDs

Chapter 43: Business Improvement Districts Reconsidered

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