June 30, 2008

Lessons from Business Improvement Districts: Building on Past Successes

  • Eileen Norcross

    Senior Research Fellow
  • Robert H. Nelson

    Professor, School of Public Policy, University of Maryland
  • Kyle R. McKenzie

Key materials
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Although most people probably have not heard of them, Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) have proliferated across the globe. Geographically defined zones authorized to collect taxes from businesses within their boundaries, BIDs have significantly changed urban governance and revived business areas. The property owners within a BID elect a board of directors who funnel the collected funds to various activities, which usually include sanitation, street cleaning, street improvements, additional security, and marketing for the business neighborhood. However, the BID model is very flexible and could be used to tackle other urban problems.

This Policy Primer provides basic background information on the history, legal framework, and past successes of BIDs, information that local governments interested in promoting BIDs within their jurisdictions might find useful. It further proposes alternative ways urban governments could give BIDs enhanced roles in local governance.

Citation (Chicago Style)

Nelson, Robert, Kyle McKenzie, and Eileen Norcross. "Lessons from Business Improvement Districts: Building on Past Successes." Mercatus Policy Series Policy Primer, No. 5. Arlington,VA: Mercatus Center at George Mason University, June 2008.