I’ve recently been on the peripherals of a campaign that was in support of progress, enterprise and trade in a local town that is dying on its feet.
The campaign’s main objective was to get local businesses to vote in favour of adding a little extra, around £135.00 p/a for most small retailers, onto their Council Tax bill. This money would then be totted up and given back to the community at the end of the year to do with what the community felt was most important. Perhaps hanging baskets to brighten the town centre, perhaps marketing to support a Christmas market. The possibilities were endless. The money was for the town’s businesses to invest in what they cared about most. Not only this, but by being part of the scheme the town would have been open to a plethora of other international funds and money pots, basically because they were showing effort and initiative.
The main plan for this town was to spruce it up and get it on the map with key events in the tourist season and out-of-season to drum up business where it is needed most.
Working with a budget of £52,500 p/a based on the participation of 350 businesses in the BID area: £13000 had been designated for new events, £5000 for festive lights to illuminate the appalling effort currently made by the council, £7000 to help support the administrative arm of the new Chamber of Commerce and even £2500 had been designated as Contingency.
The vote went to ballot and the result was negative. What is so crushing is that it was not turned down because of an overwhelming opposition, but instead because of overwhelming apathy.
How does business, small independent business at that, hope to dig itself out of this recession if the people behind the businesses can’t be arsed to pick up a pen and paper and make their voice heard. I’m not talking about committing to weekly meetings, knocking on doors. There are people with more guts and energy in every town that are happy to do that for you, for free, they just need you to show one ounce of support to give them to go ahead to make your towns and your businesses thrive.
My passion is in business and independent business is the key to a prosperous future but that future is nothing but a dream if these businesses don’t wake up and make use of the few tools they have at this time.
If you’re interested in the case study I’ve presented, you can find out more here:
It is the only town in the history of this specific BID to have turned down the opportunity.