Ballymena BIDs for big business boost

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Ballymena’s ambition to be the first BID (Business Improvement District) in Northern Ireland has taken another step closer to realisation.

At a Council committee meeting last week, members agreed in principle to a number of requests aimed at moving the plans forward.

These were put to councillors by Sharon Scott of Place Solutions which is currently involved in the Interreg funded BID and Partnership development areas NI, ROI and Scotland.

A BID is a partnership between a local authority and its business community to develop and invest in projects and services to strengthen the local economy.

In an overview of BIDs, Ms Scott pointed out that Ballymena is one of six NI pilot ‘BIDs’ towns, supported by DSD.

A BID can occur where a group of interested businesses get together with their local authority to consider what improvements are needed in their area. They then put together a plan to cost it and decide on an amount of levy each business must pay to fund the improvements. The plan is then balloted across businesses in the BID area and the target date for that process in Ballymena is this spring.

Council has worked with key stakeholders in the town to create a partnership company, Ballymena Town Centre Development Ltd (BTCD) to deliver a BID Implementation Plan resulting in the first formal BID in N. Ireland.

Ms Scott made various recommendations to councillors last week including the evolution of BTCD to become ‘Ballymena BID Company’ housed in an independent town centre office.

She also presented a number of requests, to which councillors gave ‘in principle’ agreement including - that a proposed integrated approach be taken; that Service Level Agreements between Council and BTCD and Ballymena Retailers Against Crime (BRCAC) be extended up to March 2015; permission to proceed with identifying new office premises and working up of an annual budget for core operating costs.