Move towards town business plans

Cookstown Main Street.mm39-301sr
Cookstown Main Street.mm39-301sr

The potential to create five ‘Business Improvement Districts’ or BIDs in Mid Ulster is being explored in a new study, commissioned by the local District Council.

Businesses across Cookstown, Coalisland, Dungannon, Maghera and Magherafelt, are being asked for their views on the introduction of a BIDs scheme, which acts as a regeneration tool, generating investment in town centres, but also giving businesses themselves control of their own trading environment.

A successful BID is operated by a formal partnership of businesses which come together to decide what their priorities are, what improvements they’d like to see and to create a business plan which they then deliver in association with other organisations, including local authorities.

The business plan is voted on and if the majority of businesses vote yes, all pay a small BID levy (1-2% of your business rates) for the implementation of the business plan.

The BID lasts for a maximum of five years and must be able to demonstrate how it benefits the businesses that have funded it.

Councillor John McNamee, Chair of the Council’s Development Committee, said: “Developing a Business Improvement District requires the majority of the businesses in a defined town centre area agreeing to the plan, and making a financial commitment in the form of a BID levy.

“It’s an ambitious undertaking, but one which has been proven in other areas to improve competitiveness through active management and marketing.

“Clearly we are at a very early stage and simply assessing the appetite of local town centre businesses for the BID idea”.

There are already eight BIDs operating, from a small town such as Strabane to three across Belfast City Centre.