What is a BID?

What is a BID?

A BID is a funding mechanism, whereby businesses (and sometimes property owners) in a “BID area” invest collectively to deliver projects and services for their own benefit and that of the whole area.

Each BID is an individual entity, usually a not-for-profit company like Penicuik First, administered by a Board of volunteer

Directors from eligible businesses in the BID area and, in many cases, Elected Members representing the area.

Most BIDs are “town centre” BIDs, but the mechanism allows for many different types. Since the first Scottish BIDs began operation in 2007, the BID model has been used in increasingly inventive ways, with BIDs being established for specific sectors, tourism destinations and entire Local Authority areas. Penicuik First is a town centre BID.

There are around 40 BIDs in Scotland and almost 300 across the UK.

How does a Business Improvement District (BID) come to be?

A BID starts from the ground up. A local business association, or loose affiliation of business owners, decides that the local economy would be improved by delivering certain projects and services. The group then approaches BIDs Scotland for development funding, which pays for extensive consultation of all businesses in the area and the development of a business plan. In many cases, the Local Authority provides support, too. Midlothian Council provides in-kind and financial support to Penicuik First.

This consultation must identify what needs to happen to make the town a more lucrative and more attractive place to trade. Each business is made aware of the BID process and receives a copy of the BID business plan, along with a ballot paper.

After reading the business plan, each business can vote simply “yes” or “no” to the establishment of the BID.

Penicuik First was voted in to existence on 26th May 2015, with a healthy three-quarters of votes cast in favour. As stated in the business plan, it will run for five years, before another ballot is held. If the businesses of Penicuik decide that the BID has done a good job, it will be renewed for another five years.

Why does Penicuik need a BID?

A town’s shops, services, venues, events and attractions are its lifeblood. A strong community will always support and use its town centre, but new challenges have arisen, never before faced by the traditional town centre. Out-of-town retail parks enjoy low overheads and most goods can nowadays be bought online and delivered without the consumer even leaving home. Town centres must adapt to these challenges, maintaining competitiveness and relevance, while offering something that online vendors and retail parks cannot.

Unlike retail parks, town centres have individual character and, particularly in the case of Penicuik, history. Town centre BIDs are run by local businesses, affording them local expertise and a passion for the town. Ensuring they are safe, attractive and vibrant is the central aim of any town centre BID, but one size does not fit all. The unique nature of our town centres calls for a tailored approach, which BIDs are ideally positioned to deliver. Have a look at our “projects delivered” page to see how we achieve this in Penicuik.

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