The very first question about a Business Improvement District (BID) has to be:
A Business Improvement District (BID) is an active, business-led partnership that works with the council to define quality services and standards throughout the Brackmills Industrial Estate, Northampton. A private-sector led Business Improvement District (BID) Company then "buys in" additional activities to supplement those already being provided. The improvements to the overall environment around the businesses can address a range of issues which impacts ultimately on the operation and profitability of all the businesses in the defined area.
The "extras" can be whatever the businesses feel will add value to their business.
There is a voting mechanism linked to the Business Improvement District (BID) to ensure that what is being proposed is commercially acceptable. If the majority of businesses that vote favour the Business Improvement District (BID) Company’s proposition then it becomes compulsory for every business in the area to pay a contribution towards the overall costs. All the money collected goes on the additional services and a consortium of business representatives who form the Business Improvement District (BID) company board carefully controls the process. So, the projects tackled are local, the vote is local, the control of the spend is local and the benefit end up benefiting the business's bottom line.
There are "failsafe" mechanisms built in too. The success of the Business Improvement District's project is carefully monitored throughout its life (usually five years) and fine-tuning adjustments are made by the Business Improvement District (BID) board (into which the businesses in the area have a clear route of communication). Incidentally, they will be checking basic Council services at the same time, to guarantee they continue as before, or are better. If the Business Improvement District (BID) does not deliver what's stated in its business plan to give better business performance it can be switched off at the end of five years by saying no when the re-vote is announced.
Brackmills Industrial Estate has attracted significant new investment over the years from global brands and high profile business names. It was reputed to be one of the premier industrial estates and business parks in the country.
Northampton Borough Council and Northamptonshire County Council provide a range of services to the estate's businesses but are under pressure with constant demands placed on them by Central Government while the budgets to support them continue to decline.
The councils can only do so much with the money it has and if it is seeking to re-establish the reputation and environment of the estate, many would agree the standards set and the services provided are just not good enough. More has to be done and the Councils cannot be expected to do it all on its own.
New money, new energy and new ideas have to be found if the businesses are to face the increasing economic challenges of operating in a trading environment where customer expectation continually increases at a rate equal to the increase in the costs of production, overheads and operation. The problems and issues that exist in and around businesses have to be tackled in an innovative and efficient way. They affect everybody, so everybody has to contribute to their resolution.
Firstly it can generate sustainable funding that is 100% ring-fenced and controlled by the businesses in a very transparent and open process. Secondly, it stops some businesses paying their way while others prosper on the back of this contribution. Thirdly it will improve the profit performance of individual businesses by influencing issues such as access for goods, services and staff, security and safety on the roads and open areas around the businesses and potentially reduced operating costs such as energy supply and waste disposal through a group rather than an individual business approach.
The businesses get to vote to pay a little extra for the improvements they want to see in Brackmills Industrial Estate. Obviously they won’t vote in favour if the sums do not add up. Also, as explained earlier, the Business Improvement District (BID) will be structured with a fixed life - five years, after which it will be necessary to renew the Business Improvement District (BID) through a second vote. If it hasn't worked for the businesses, they can simply switch it off.
Part of the setting up process involves the monitoring and checking of delivery standards of current services to the estate such as highway maintenance and policing and insisting they are adhered to. These standards will form the basis on which to gauge what is wanted in terms of extra services and standards, and gap what can be bridged.
The private sector fronted BID company will then negotiate the extra, how it will be paid for and what impact it is likely to have. Don't forget too, that the BID company will tease more money out of public sector pots if it can, to help make the BID work better. This extra leverage will add more value to business investment, making the deal really worthwhile.
It is a unique opportunity for businesses to join together to shape a new deal for the Brackmills Industrial Estate to benefit all the businesses. New innovative thinking, energy and action can start to generate a real difference. Sharing passion between businesses and like-minded individuals around will help re-establish the estate as a premier place to operate and do business.
It's a fairer system too because all who invest gain the benefit and the compulsory payment aspect of the Business Improvement District (BID) means that includes everyone - there is no freeloading.
The BID is working in partnership with the above organisations
Brackmills Industrial Estate Limited
c/o John Lewis Partnership
1 – 2 Mercury Drive
Brackmills Industrial Estate
Telephone: 07875 275688
© Brackmills Industrial Estate Ltd 2011