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Business Improvement Districts as a Tool for Improving Philadelphia’s Economy


There are an estimated 1500 business improvement districts (BIDs), most of them in North America. Their fundamental purpose is to improve business profitability and property values. BIDs are unusual among economic development tools in that the private sector beneficiaries are also the entities principally responsible for planning, managing, and financing the BID. In these ways, BIDs incorporate the concepts of sharing costs, responsibilities, and the benefits of district management.

The most effective BIDs overcome problems and capitalize on economic opportunities specific to the jurisdiction in which they function. Successful BIDs are not off-the-shelf products; the management and services of one rarely fit another. BID success and popularity is largely reliant upon the BID's ability to reflect private-sector priorities and generate, or otherwise obtain, reliable and sufficient financial resources so as to be able to address these priorities.