Greater Grassmarket BID goes to ballot

Businesses in the Grassmarket are being given the opportunity to decide on the area's future as voting on whether to become a Business Improvement District (BID) starts on Thursday (20 September).

If businesses vote 'Yes' the BID will be used as a tool to attract investment and the funds used for a variety of projects to boost the Grassmarket and surrounding area.

Under the Business Improvement District agreement, events and promotions would be planned to attract more people to the area and better use the public space. It would also aim to address antisocial behaviour and improve perceptions of the Grassmarket to a more family friendly area.

Councillor Andrew Burns, Council Leader, said: "This is a fantastic opportunity for Grassmarket businesses and I would encourage them to make their voices heard in the ballot. The BID could potentially raise a fund of over £600,000 during its lifetime and this will be dedicated specifically to improving business and trade in the area.

"The recent Grassmarket Redevelopment Project has transformed the look and feel of the area and now is a real chance for the Council and business community to come together to boost trade in this historic part of the city."

An initial consultation with over 100 businesses was conducted earlier this year and it was established there was general support for a BID in the area.

The information received from the returned questionnaires, along with the results of a resident survey as well as previous research for the area, was used to form the basis of the BID Business Plan which businesses will now vote on.

Fawns Reid, Chair of the Greater Grassmarket BID, said: "We all recognise the huge draw of this historic area and its inherent role as a vibrant centre for the local community, visitors and a strong independent business community

"Being empowered to manage our own local area we can make a significant "placemaking" contribution to Edinburgh's identity as a city, with world Heritage status. Managing the public realm space is key to the success of a Business Improvement District (BID). This partnership approach could be one of the best economic outcomes of the public realm investment in the Grassmarket."

The projects listed in the business plan would be funded by an investment levy paid by all businesses in the BID area, if the ballot is successful.

Over the 5-year lifetime of the BID, this will amount to over £620,000, with an additional contribution from City of Edinburgh Council of £20,000 during the first year.

Projects aimed at attracting additional footfall to help boost trade, were identified as a key priority for the area.  Cost saving initiatives such as a business waste collection scheme and other group procurement initiatives are also proposed. 

The BID also intends to deliver a Greater GrassmarketApp, whereby any BID business can sign up to promote their business.

Ballot papers will arrive by post on Thursday 20th September.  Businesses have 42 days to complete and return their voting papers (by 5pm on Thursday 1st November 2012) if they are to be included in the ballot.

A BID is a business led initiative which gives local organisations the power to raise funds locally to be spent locally, with the aim of improving their own trading environment. It is an investment scheme where local businesses have the opportunity to say how their money should be invested to benefit themselves, their employees, customers and clients.

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