Business Improvement
Districts (BIDs)

Business Improvement Districts are considered to be the world’s best practice Place Management. Businesses work collaboratively to develop a Five-Year Business Plan that delivers positive business outcomes. The Business Plan is created from business surveys, workshops and interviews and a ballot of businesses is conducted to approve the plan by a majority of property owners and businesses. The vote needs to achieve a majority by number of businesses and property owners and square metre area. 

The democratic process provides the business sector with a strategy that guides the future of their mainstreet, city centre or township. More than 3000 BIDs are operating successfully all over the world. New South Wales is establishing Australia’s first BID – The New Sydney Waterfront BID. The NSW Government has developed guidelines to assist BID Pilots to be established all over the State.   

Over 3000 BIDs Worldwide

The first BID was created in Bloor West District in Toronto Canada 50 years ago (1970). Since that time BIDs have spread across the UK, USA, South Africa, Germany, Singapore and New Zealand. BIDs have replaced the traditional mainstreet place management model as best practice. BIDs deliver benefits for businesses, Councils, property owners and local communities with a success rate of 90%+.

Why a BID?

BIDs use the collective power of retailers in a precinct to drive the needs of each area. BIDs models are very successful because businesses get involved. BIDs have been around for 50 years and they work in Cities, towns, mainstreets and industrial parks. BIDs engage businesses in a democratic process that allows businesses to decide what are the main priorities for their area and how to fund and resource the delivery of those priorities in a democratic and equitable way. Businesses take an active role in guiding their business environment toward a successful outcome. New BIDs continue to be developed each year and Australia can embrace these proven governance models.

Key Features of BIDs

  • Business engagement / involved in deciding key issues and priorities
  • A transparent process to develop and implement a 5 year business plan
  • A funding model that is equitable and sustainable
  • Benefits are shared by businesses, Council and customers
  • Short term actions and long term planning delivers results
  • The model is scalable with a small street of 30 businesses or a city of 3000 businesses

BIDS in Australia

How to create a BID in 10 Steps 

BIDs require legislation to allow for a democratic business ballot. On average almost 60% of businesses submit a vote  for a Five-Year Business Plan. It is possible to start the process of developing a better place management model for your retail precinct or mainstreet. Call David to discuss how you can develop a quality governance model. 

BID Video

In this video David explains how we can use the best practice principles applied in BIDs to engage businesses in the process and demonstrates how benefits can be achieved. BIDs require enabling legislation to allow for a business ‘ballot’ that endorses the Business Plan. The average turnout to vote is between 50-60% of all businesses in a defined BID area.

The UK, USA, Canada, South Africa, Singapore and New Zealand introduced legislative changes and now New South Wales is in the process of introducing legislation for the whole State and other States should also take advantage of this opportunity.

The BID Process - Overview


A benefit area is defined and all businesses in that area are surveyed and asked what services and projects (over and above council services) would have a positive impact on their businesses and the mainstreet or precinct.


The survey results are collated and the projects identified by the business community are integrated into a Business Plan Proposal and presented back to all businesses for their feedback. Meetings, workshops and interviews area also conducted to engage businesses and gain their support.


Businesses are then asked to vote for or against adopting the Business Plan Proposal as their planning roadmap for the next five years. If the businesses vote in favour of the proposal it becomes the official and legally binding business plan and budget for their area. All businesses are required to participate.


The businesses share the costs of delivering the Plan and receive the business benefits derived from the program. In five years, the process is repeated and businesses will vote again. Over 95% of the 3000 BID programs have been renewed for another 5 years because the businesses can see the results.

BID - Best Practice Examples

Center City District – Philadelphia USA

The Center City District (CCD) and Central Philadelphia Development Corporation (CPDC) share a common mission: to enhance the vitality of Centre City Philadelphia as a thriving 24-hour downtown and a great place to work, live and have fun. They work everyday to enhance the vitality of the Centre City District.

Heart of London Business Alliance – UK

Representing 500 businesses in the Piccadilly and St James and Leicester Square areas, the alliance works in partnership with businesses and the local council as a catalyst for positive change. The West End is a lively 24/7 area with theatres, cinemas, casinos, restaurants, bars and hosts over 200 million visitors each year.

Heart of the City – Auckland NZ

Heart of the City is the Auckland City Centre Business Association. They work to develop the city area and promote Auckland’s city centre as a vibrant, exciting place to work and live and champion a successful City Centre for businesses.

Photo Credits – Santa Monica – Downtown, Santa Monica

Philadelphia – M. Fishetti