New York city - business improvement districts
As part of the tour with the University of Westminster we got to meet some of the people behind New York's Business Improvement Districts (BIDs). United States BIDs are non-profit organisations that property owners vote to establish and voluntarily pay into to provide extra safety, cleanliness and 'brand' areas. What's in it for them is that by doing this they see more footfall in their areas, and an uplift in local business revenue and property values.
New York City has 75 BIDs and the city government is very supportive of them, with the Department of Small Business Services running programmes that help establish and run BIDs, because they see it as a successful way of economic capacity building on the ground. 42,000 properties and 93,000 businesses fall inside BID areas, from large centres to smaller neighbourhoods with 'mom and pop shops' (a favourite phrase of New Yorkers).
They don't come much bigger than the Times Square Alliance who have operated a BID in the area since the 90s. 400,000 people go through the square every day and with an annual budget of $20M they provide hundreds of extra security staff and sanitation personnel, as well as programme the area, with the biggest event being New Year's Eve. I saw in the 90s in Times Square and it's unrecognisable - but it still has the ball!
This is me with Tom Harris, Senior Vice President, Operations, Times Square Alliance.