BID best way to keep downtown momentum rolling

THE PROCESS OF CREATING a business improvement district for downtown Plymouth got underway last week.

An informational meeting attended by some two dozen people included a presentation by Naletta Burr, community account manager for the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp., on the benefits of a BID as well as resources available to communities to establish and support a BID.

Randy Schwoerer, Plymouth’s current downtown manager and a former BID manager in the city of Sheboygan, and current Sheboygan BID Manager Dave Hoffman both gave their perspectives on the advantages of the financing tool in promoting and enhancing business districts.

More than 80 municipalities in the state of Wisconsin utilize BIDs to support business districts, usually in their downtown area – including the city of Sheboygan, which has two of them, for its downtown and the Harbor Center district.

A BID utilizes an extra assessment on each property in the district to create fund to finance business development and promotion – typically overseen by a manager paid out of the BID funds.

In the city of Sheboygan, the annual cost to property owners to support a BID there runs from $3,000 to $8,000 a year, according to Hoffman. The cost of a potential BID in Plymouth for individual property owners will depend on the size of the district, the number of properties included and the proposed budget the district will support.

An attempt about a dozen or more years ago to create a BID for Plymouth’s downtown failed when proponents were unable to convince enough involved business and property owners of the potential benefits they would receive for their BID dollars.

The examples were all around them, but now they have the added benefit of having seen what benefits could accrue to Plymouth right here in


Thanks to a grant from the Lakeshore Community Foundation, the Redevelopment Authority and the Plymouth Chamber of Commerce were able to finance a downtown manager position for two years.

Schwoerer was hired to fill the position in the summer of 2014 and has demonstrated exactly how much of a positive impact such a position can have.

The past two years have seen enhanced beautification efforts in downtown, several new and successful events to draw visitors into downtown, and the creation of an active and vibrant Downtown Plymouth Association.

All of this has strengthened promotion, advertising, business growth and development, new business recruitment and much more in downtown Plymouth.

All of that could not have been accomplished by individual downtown businesses on their own, nor could they by Chamber of Commerce – which must direct its efforts toward the entire community.

We’ve seen what the positive impact of a paid manager has had for Plymouth’s downtown over the last two years, but the grant that funded that pilot program expires this year.

It would be a shame to see all the advances and the positive energy that downtown has seen over the past year-and-a-half dissipate because the downtown manager position disappears.

A business improvement district is one sure way to keep that positive momentum going. It’s time to make it happen.

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