It’s a great town, now let’s make it even greater – that’s the message from the chairman of the new body in town, BID St Andrews.
The new organisation officially took over on January 4 this year, and since then the 10 board members have been working hard.
BID St Andrews – BID stands for Business Improvement District – has been established to allow local businesses to invest in improvements beyond those put in place by government.
Chairman of the board is Alistair Lang, a partner with Thorntons Law LLP, who said this week that the whole board was as upbeat he was about the project.
“It is a great board who are really enthused and they have a wide variety of talents.
“We have managerial expertise, skills in marketing, social media, finance, retail and much more,” Mr Lang explained.
And he added: “As well as giving their own time, they are all also looking at ways of supporting the BID by providing in-kind support.”
But it’s not just about the board – communication, connection, collaboration are the words that crop up again and again as he talks about the BID.
And Mr Lang promised: “There is opportunity to collaborate with lots of groups – it is about working with everyone because there are so many groups that want to see the town successful and want to work together,” and he stressed: “It is not about replacing any groups, it is about engaging with them.
“My impression is that there is a huge amount of positivity and there is huge support for the BID. Once we are operating we are going to reach out to everyone and understand what all the businesses want to achieve. I think it is so important those businesses have a voice, they are a big collective but only if they really have a voice.”
At present BID board members are meeting twice a month to put in place the working arrangements with existing organisations in the town.
That includes Fife Council, the St Andrews Partnership and many others.
They are also in the process of appointing a BID manager, though that is not likely to be finalised until early spring.
The group inherited a business plan from the steering group who established the organisation, and now are prioritising which of the initiatives outlined in the plan they will be taking forward.
“We want to move forward with the businesses, to make some progress but it has to be the right progress – our funds have got to contribute to the bottom line.
“Sometimes we will make decisions that not everyone will agree with but they are delivering results for the BID.”
The business plan developed by the BID steering group covered five areas, from marketing and promotion with plans for a series of new and established events in St Andrews, to ‘facilitate’ – looking at utility bills, developing networking, and shop local campaigns.
The BID is funded by a levy on all businesses in the BID area which, broadly, stretches from the East Sands west to the R&A, and from the northern edge of the town south as far as Kinnessburn Road, and encompasses 240 businesses including retailers, the university, pubs and restaurants, theatre and cinema.
“This town has huge resources in terms of organisations and skills,” Mr Lang concluded, “Our challenge is how we can harness that to make the place better for everyone.”