A number of you have been in touch with NI BIDs to ask about the impact of BREXIT on your places. We will keep a watching brief over the next few months and keep you informed of any issues that we see that may directly or indirectly affect place management Northern Ireland. We would encourage all our existing BIDs as well as other place management organisations to feed into this through the forum of NI BIDs.
The fundamental issue for places in Northern Ireland is how to deal with the uncertainty and a potential lack of business confidence over the coming months. There has been, and will continue to be, a lot of conflicting ‘facts’ and viewpoints. So what can places and more specifically BIDs and Town/City management organisations realistically do? NI BIDs are suggesting 3 things that BIDs & place management organisations can do to understand, prepare and steady their own trading environment over the coming months:
During the NI BIDs Academy, we emphasised the need to understand and accurately reflect your trading environment. This has never been more important now. Those of you who have invested in performance measurement tools such as footfall counters, USE THEM and share the statistics and trends as they emerge. This will allow for evidence based decision-making rather than reacting to speculation and rumours. Compare and contrast your information with other places and against the regional and national statistics. In the short term, particularly in the border areas, there will be an influx of shoppers if the pound remains weak. This will put pressure on access and car parking arrangements, so it will be important to monitor this and work with the appropriate agencies to address these. This will not only be an opportunity to prove your value through the provision of timely, coherent and factual information that will help stabilise the trading environment but also contribute to any policy and practical responses.
This is exactly what place management organisations such as BIDs should be about and the role it should play going forward. The sustainability and independence of, particularly BID organisations, will result in it being an even more important funding mechanism now, and consequently it needs to be used more effectively. NI BIDs would urge you to review your plans to ensure they reflect the changing circumstances and, for those of you in the process of doing them, think along these terms. Furthermore, organisations like a BID are conduits for businesses to engage with the local and central government and through them Europe. They can play a crucial role in influencing the debate around BREXIT and making the views of local businesses heard.
Again, we preached this incessantly during the NI BIDs Academy, but it is even more vital now. BREXIT will have different effects in different areas based on size, proximity to the border, reliance on tourism or export, for example. The BID has a key role in getting to grips with this and working collectively with the other key stakeholders to trade effectively going forward. Understanding the extent and proportion of European funding in your area will be a key area of work and working collaboratively to find new innovative ways of delivering these projects will be paramount if required.
NI BIDs are very keen to hear of any particular impact and concerns relating to your place, whether you have a BID or another type of set up. We know that BREXIT is likely:
Email us with your thoughts on how BREXIT may affect your area.
"Originally I was sceptical about BIDs, their logic and rationale behind them. The Mosaic Partnership has helped to reinforce that they are, in reality, a very valuable and in some cases an essential vehicle to enhance the fabric and wellbeing of our town centres and cities. I began just wanting to learn and observe but along the way I became inspired."
"Marketing and place promotion are vitally important for attracting students to Ulster University. The CQ area has enormous potential and provides an excitiing and inspiring environment for the Ulster University campus to flourish and contribute to the dynamic of the Cathedral Quarter."
"A BID would mean a better and more positive City for everyone – business owners, employers, employees, families and communities. It would enable projects to go ahead and to make the City a far more attractive and forward thinking place to bring business and visitors to."
"Over the past 15 years, I have seen Cathedral Quarter grow from a state of neglect and near dereliction into Belfast’s most vibrant shared space filled with arts, culture and a great nightlife. The BID represents our best chance to shape the future and ensure that we keep this area special through times of challenge, change and opportunity"