By Warkworth BID coordinator Rachel Callender, on behalf of the Warkworth Area Business Association (WABA)
A strong local economy is built on the performance of local businesses that create jobs and generate financial prosperity including profits, wages and salaries, which are then spent in the local community, benefiting everyone.
A Business Improvement District (BID) is funded by all businesses in a defined area and provides support and initiatives to help them succeed and generate financial prosperity. Currently, there are 80 financial members contributing to WABA out of more than 340 businesses in the BID area. If a BID is established, all businesses in this area would contribute and have a say about what should be done and when.
WABA has provided input to NZTA, Auckland Council and Council Controlled Organisations (CCOs) on many issues, offered training seminars and managed community events. As a volunteer-run organisation, we carry out just a fraction of the advocacy, business and community activities that Warkworth needs.
The reality is that in today’s busy world, it takes time and money to get things done. WABA estimates that to remove the reliance on volunteers, a budget of about $180,000 per year is needed to provide expertise and real benefit to businesses.
One question most often asked about the BID is, ‘What’s in it for me?’ The answer – a lot!
For commercial and industrial businesses, benefits include savings through economies of scale on service contracts – bulk purchase agreements. For example, the Rosebank BID improved the quality of security services and negotiated favourable rates by having one contract for all rather than businesses contracting their own security. The North Harbour BID carried out a similar exercise resulting in decreased crime and lower insurance premiums providing real savings for businesses.
For landlords, BID activities that increase foot traffic and create a vibrant town will attract more demand for commercial premises meaning a larger pool of tenants and secure rental income.
For retailers and service providers, raising awareness of their offerings and where to find them through business directories, a strong online presence and impactful signage will increase the volume of customers and clients.
The BID will also provide a coordinated, stronger voice to get Council, CCOs and the Local Board to respond to Warkworth’s needs and take action on issues like roads, parking and infrastructure – issues that affect everyone. For example, in Torbay, Council transferred $200,000 to the BID to locally manage a significant infrastructure project. When it comes to advocacy, the message is clear – Council prefers to deal with one united group.
So at voting time businesses have an important choice – they can decide to all contribute and work together; or let a few businesses influence decision making; rely on volunteers and donations; and wait for change to happen around them.
Warkworth is fortunate to have had generations of people dedicated to supporting our town and local community, but in today’s fast-paced environment, a voluntary approach is unsustainable.
WABA believes a BID will benefit everyone, make our town vibrant and prosperous, and provide greater opportunities for generations to come.