Time may be right to create downtown BID

IS IT THE RIGHT time to form a business improvement district for downtown Plymouth?

That question may be coming up soon as the two-year grant that funded a downtown manager position for the city will expire next summer.

The grant came through the Lakeshore Community Foundation in Manitowoc last summer and led to the hiring of Randy Schwoerer to handle promotion and coordinate events for Plymouth’s downtown.

Schwoerer’s most visible success has been several highly popular and well received new events, such as the Taste of Plymouth and this Saturday’s Family Fun Event – featuring Touch a Truck and the Grand Prix of Cheese.

But Schwoerer has had an impact in many other ways that may not be so visible, from shepherding a grant program that facilitated fresh coats of paint on many downtown buildings to leading efforts to create a historic district for downtown Plymouth to just energizing and activating the downtown business community.

Downtown Plymouth is showing new life and that should be encouraged and grown.

Those are all efforts and activities that should be carried forward and kept active beyond the expiration of the grant funds next summer.

That’s where a business improvement district would provide the answer.

Participating downtown property and business owners would fund the district through an additional levy on their property tax bills, with the funds raised used solely and exclusively for the downtown area – starting with continuing the downtown manager position.

BIDs have worked successfully in other communities in the county and throughout the country and one would be good for downtown Plymouth.

The Plymouth Chamber of Commerce does a magnificent job of promoting Plymouth as a whole, but their mission is for the entire city and surrounding area and they cannot give downtown the focus and attention it needs.

A business improvement district has been proposed for downtown Plymouth in the past, but it was met with understandable skepticism and opposition from many who were not convinced of the benefits.

The last year of Randy Schwoerer’s efforts as downtown manager should convince even the most skeptical of the benefits of creating a BID and maintaining the position – whether it is filled by Schwoerer or an able successor.

The time may be right for the answer to the question to be yes.

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