Cleveland, Ohio, and many other large cities such as Washington D.C., New York, and Los Angeles have Business Improvement Districts (BIDs), which are non-profit organizations formed through tax-supported/elected special improvement districts and funded through local tax assessment. In Cleveland, the Downtown Cleveland Alliance works with the Greater Cleveland Partnership, but they are separate entities.
The Downtown Cleveland Alliance supports the face of business improvement through a team of paid ambassadors in their Clean and Safe Ambassador Program. These are paid positions, with a mix of part and full-time individuals who are very friendly, well trained, serve as extra eyes and ears to police, report panhandling or other issues with off-duty police officer), and help with clean up, gardening tasks and picking up trash. Ambassadors wear bright yellow and blue uniforms and work from 7 am to midnight, 7 days a week through Block by Block Services.
When incidences occur, the Alliance serves as a convener - aka council or mini town hall - to support the businesses, city/county officials, and stakeholders. The Clean and Safe Ambassadors work on the “see something, say something” model. The Alliance serves as a conduit to support the stakeholders.
In a not-crime-related instance, a major downtown street shut down for construction and the Alliance served as a convener for the local businesses to host a big downtown block party with music, food, retail, etc. A mini-stakeholder meeting was held to plan out the party details.
BID meetings or townhall sessions are generally scheduled ad hoc, as needed, and then pushed out to stakeholders and through the Chamber notices.
The BID encourages the community to talk to each other through these meetings. The meetings are hosted by different “owners,” like officials from the city, county, nonprofit org, business owners, or property managers.
The Cleveland BID has 10 year history and is well established. The director stressed that they truly serves as a convener, conduit of info, and serves as a community organizer.
For the BID and Chamber relationship, the Chamber serves as area’s overall business attraction and retention; whereas the BID works for tax payers only in downtown Cleveland. The BID is separate from Chamber, but they have a strong relationship. The BID is a non-profit org with its own board and staff.
If your community does not have a BID, one idea is to look into this formation; and another idea is to have the chamber serve in the same function as a BID – essentially, a convener and info conduit for area stakeholders and business owners to meet, discuss, plan and come up with community-based solutions.
I’m happy to talk more or if you’d like to schedule a conversation with the Cleveland BID director, please let me know and I’ll e-introduce you. I hope this is helpful and please let us know if we met the mark or how we can further assist.