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Things BIDs Do
- Safe: uniformed public and private security personnel, security cameras, providing a forum for all public safety enforcement personnel in the district.
- Clean: Street cleaners equipped with various technologies from brooms to street sweepers. Graffiti removal (solvents, paints and power washing).
- Marketing: Collective, niche, and new businesses.
- Parking: Management, ownership, leasing of parking areas, management of street parking, work with municipality on parking regulation/management, parking signage.
- Banner programs celebrating/publicizing events and institutions.
- Retail guidance (displays, marketing, promotion).
- Event organizing (music, art, dance, parades, contests, restaurant week etc.).
- Marketing technology: web, links, social networking, hot spot operations.
- Communication: to members, businesses, employees, visitor/customers, public and nonprofit sectors via electronic, newsletters, reports. Providing a forum for district non-profits to share information and coordinate programs and projects.
- Advocacy with the public sector. (City, County, State and Federal governments).
- Coordination of city services; monthly meetings with city agencies responsible for work in the area (code enforcement street signs, street sweeping, street lighting, parking etc.) to correct deficiencies and keep up with complaints and resolutions of complaints.
- Physical planning: area plans, comprehensive planning, strategic planning, zoning studies etc. Demographic and other data collection.
- Economic Development: business retention and recruitment, loans and grants, co-marketing of products and real estate opportunities.
- Economic Development: Work with businesses to capture business expansions, spin-offs and complementary businesses.
- Support employer-assisted housing programs: Good employees make good neighbors and having employees living in the neighborhood can solve a variety of bottom-line business problems.
- Workforce development: Job banks, centralizing initial job screening for member employers, sponsorship, organizing and providing sites for customized workforce training in conjunction with community colleges, summer jobs for local youth.
- Beautification: flower beds, flower pots and hanging baskets, public art
- Parks: maintenance and improvement.
- Infrastructure: construct/finance sidewalks, parks, street lighting, transit shelters, public spaces/streetscaping, and façade improvement programs.
- Green agenda: recycling, storm water mitigation, education regarding LEED development, conservation programming and education.
- Energy: Education, co-marketing and/or purchase of energy and energy services.
- Employee services ranging from picking up dry cleaning to operating day cares.
- Coordinating intra-district B2B programs: create “retail and commercial “buy local programs.”
- Transportation programs ranging from “transit chek” and car pool programs to operating small transit systems.
- Coordinating group purchases of everything from paper to employee benefit products.
- Business Finance: creating, marketing, co-marketing products designed for local businesses.
- Social service outreach: Homeless outreach programs
- Recreational opportunities, especially to give kids an alternative to mischief making in the business area.
- Volunteer coordination for community cleanups and other events.
Key Markets for Employer-Assisted Housing Strategies
During the 1990s and until the bursting of the “housing bubble,” employer-assisted housing proved to be advantageous to employers, employees and the housing industry. Employers used employer-assisted housing to address core business problems or recruitment, retention, the need to reconfigure benefit costs, and/or revitalize communities in which the employer operated. Employees were interested in getting into home ownership as quickly as possible in the face of a rapidly rising housing market and in the face of a rapidly rising housing market, the housing industry from Fannie Mae to the corner real estate agent was interested in finding additional sources of funding for buyers who lacked sufficient savings for a down payment.
Today, while employer-assisted housing is still well-suited to address bottom-line business problems, the housing needs of workers are different and the markets in which employers are operating and employees are considering their housing options are also changed. Employer-assisted housing techniques have the capacity to be customized and meet changed conditions. Moreover, with proper public incentives, employer-assisted housing programs can be structured to achieve public and private sector goals that respond to today’s housing needs and markets.
Below are seven niche strategies where employer-assisted housing can be used to meet the needs of specific types of employers, employees and communities.
- Neighborhoods impacted by high vacancy rates due to foreclosures. EAH programs can be structured to help reduce foreclosures and the vacancies that have resulted from foreclosures. By leveraging employer aid with various public and private anti-foreclosure programs opportunities exist to have effective programs at minimal employer cost.
- Smart growth and transit oriented development. Incorporating affordability into TOD activity has been problematic. Employer-assisted housing program can be used to create a permanent source of affordability within such targeted areas.
- Areas where employers are acting in concert with other revitalization activities occurring in a community. Many employers actively work with public and nonprofit sectors to support the revitalization of communities in which they operate. Employer-assisted housing puts the purchasing power of employees behind such efforts.
- Public and nonprofit organizations. Cities are increasingly interested in “meds and eds” as an economic development strategy. Uniting this strategy with employer-assisted housing: a) provides housing opportunities for the employees these expansions will attract; b) diminishes gentrification pressure on impacted neighborhoods; and, c) fosters 24-hour communities which will create additional jobs in impacted neighborhoods.
- High Tech Development. Whether in urban or suburban locations, companies seeking high tech workers are often seeking employees who are young and have lots of student debt and limited savings. Enabling these employees to obtain better housing options can be a good way of recruiting and retaining these employees.
- Rental and limited equity housing. America’s permanent recession means that increasingly contingent workers who own a home can find themselves saddled with a highly illiquid asset and a need to rapidly relocate to an area offering better employment opportunity. Employers offering rental and limited equity housing would be a useful way of supporting worker mobility.
- Substantial rehabilitation/conversion of industrial properties provides an opportunity for employers in an area to decommission obsolete facilities while strengthening communities in which they continue to operate. Properly incented by the public sector, an “old factories/new neighborhoods” policy would reward employers that remained in a community, but needed modern facilities in order to continue to operate.
Federal BID Policy Ideas
- Incorporate BIDs into a federal value capture strategy.
BIDs are a way for the public sector, at all levels, to partner with the private sector and share in the benefits derived from public investment. For example, when the public sector makes a commitment to revitalizing an area, building a park, or creating mass transit opportunities, the value of surrounding properties are increased. Without a BID or some other value capture strategy all of that increase in property value accrues to the businesses and property owners, although it was public sector action that created the opportunity for values to increase.
Examples, though more prevalent in the largest BIDs abound, and include: Washington, DC, New York City and University City in Philadelphia BIDs where BIDs organized and partly funded bus routes that circulate within the district and to important city, regional and national transit connections. Similarly at the Fulton St. BID in NYC, the DOT funded physical improvements in return for area property owners agreeing to establish a BID to maintain the improvements. In another vein, the suburban Coliseum Central District in Hampden, Virginia and the newly established BID in King of Prussia, PA., have both sought to participate in the planning of federal highway funded projects impacting their districts as well as in planning for future mass transit services.
With a BID, property owners are required to reinvest some of the value created by public action or resources back into the neighborhood to support common goals. Strategically, the ability of the private sector to bring resources to address an issue can be particularly timely and effective in that the BID can provide matching funds needed to draw down federal funding for cash-strapped local governments, as well as undertake preliminary planning and/or engineering to facilitate project implementation. Where increases in property values are to be expected as a result of federal action, a value capture element should be written into the application or application scoring process.
Encourage States to Adopt Value Capture Strategies. When states apply for various federal funds that will be used to improve communities, the federal government could require states to indicate how they have worked with local governments and others to incorporate value capture strategies.
BIDS occupy a distinct niche in the American polity, being comprised of private property owners with the authority to raise revenues for collective action much as local government does, while generally operating within a nonprofit structure. The ability to collectively act on behalf of directly affected stakeholders, makes BIDs a unique partner with whom the federal government can work. In response, the federal government should recognize this unique structure and seek to make BIDs an eligible partner with federal agencies in the planning and implementation of federal policy priorities.
Some Specific Ideas
- Transportation: Permit BIDs to seek funding for developing and operating local mass transit systems, managing transit chek programs, funding traffic management programs.
- Commerce or HUD (PD&R) could create a center for BID research and data collection. Collect narratives, indicate best practices and make annual awards to heighten awareness of BID successes.
- Funding for BID-managed customized job training, job banks and other employment services.
- Walk to Work housing programs. Create a limited demonstration employer-assisted housing tax credit program for businesses located in BIDs.
- Permit BIDs to seek open space and park development funding.
- Make alternate/renewable energy grants and loans to create local energy management and efficiency programs.
- Give additional priority to BIDs for tax-exempt economic development funding.
- Enable BID revenue streams to serve as credit enhancement for FHA, EDA and other federal insurance programs.
- Give a priority for federal funding for assessment and clean-up of brownfield sites to areas within BIDs.
- Enable BIDs interested in addressing neighborhood stormwater management problems to seek planning and implementation funding for mitigation activities.