What is a BID?

A Business Improvement District (BID) is about businesses working together and investing collectively in local improvements, in addition to those delivered by the statutory authorities, which will be of benefit to the businesses involved whilst contributing to the wider aspirations of the local residential community and growing the local economy.

By working together businesses can reduce costs, share risks and create new platforms for growth.

BIDs in Scotland are not restricted to town and city centres and can be developed in areas such as the tourism and visitor sector, commercial or industrial districts areas, rural areas, agriculture or single sector business groups who wish to collectively improve their trading environment.

They are often, although not exclusively, a partnership arrangement through which the local business community and the statutory authorities can take forward projects which will benefit the local economy.

A BID is not a substitute for central or local government investment, but an additional investment to strengthen the local economy and give local businesses a unified voice, helping to provide an arena for businesses and local authorities to increase their understanding of each others priorities.

Enterprising Bathgate

Enterprising Bathgate, the first BID in Scotland, March 2008


BIDs are developed, managed and paid for by the business sector by means of a compulsory BID levy which the businesses within the proposed BID area must vote in favour of before the BID can be established. Each business liable to contribute to the BID will be able to vote on whether or not the BID goes ahead.

Borne out of Town Centre Management Partnerships (TCMPs), the concept was originally set up in Canada but took off in the US in the late 1970s with over 1700 now established worldwide. There are now over 135 BIDs in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Success stories include Enterprising Bathgate, Clacksfirst Limited Business Parks, Essential Edinburgh, Falkirk Delivers, Inverness City, Giffnock, Alloa, Queensferry Ambition, Greater Grassmarket, Living Lerwick, Hamilton, Oban, Largs, Kirkwall, Dunoon, Dunfermline Delivers, Embrace Elgin, I Love Clarkston, Sauchiehall Street, Kirkcaldy4All, Milngavie, Loch Ness and Inverness Tourism, Linlithgow, Vale of Leven Industrial Estate, and Aberdeen. A full list of BIDs can be viewed here.

“The Business Improvement District (BID) initiative is growing and has a direct link to the Government’s Purpose of supporting sustainable economic growth. The BID model is particularly relevant in the current economic climate. Its flexibility enables the private and public sectors to work together and invest in improvements to the local business environment, while contributing to the wider regeneration of the local community. Businesses also benefit from the sharing of good practice across BID areas.”

Mr Derek Mackay
Former Minister for Local Government and Planning


To learn more about BIDs and how they can benefit your area, see BIDs Model at Work, Talking BIDs and The Benefits of a Business Improvement District or download an information brochure here.