Gosford Business Improvement District

The Gosford Business Improvement District (GBID) is a not-for-profit organisation seeking to improve local conditions of businesses, including attracting more people into the city centre and improving the quality of visitor experiences.

Since they first developed in Canada in the 1960s, Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) have become something of an international movement - particularly in North America and the UK - for managing town centre revitalisation strategies. (See Department of Business Innovation Skills 2010; Williams 2010).

A BID is a public/private partnership under which local businesses come together to pay a levy to fund a Business Improvement Manager and other local programs to bring about commercial (and other) revitalisation to an area.

According to UKBIDs' The National BIDs Advisory Service:

A Business Improvement District is a partnership between a local authority and the local business community to develop projects and services that will benefit the trading environment within the boundary of a clearly defined commercial area. (UKBIDs' website 2010)

The UK's Department for Business, Innovation & Skills 2010 paper, Healthy High Street? A healthcheck for high streets and town centres, calls for clear leadership and vision in improving and managing central public and commercial spaces. The paper details more than 100 BID programs in the UK as "a proven way of facilitating and funding good town management".

Gosford Business Improvement District was established in 2008 "to make Gosford a safer, cleaner, more commercially vibrant, attractive city" (Gosford Business Improvement District 2010).

In 2010 GBID was case-studied by NSW Industry and Investment as an example of a Business Improvement District working in NSW.

GBID collects and manages the funds raised by the Gosford City Centre Improvement Special Rate Levy, which all commercial property owners in Gosford are required to pay. During the 2008/2009 financial year, this levy generated an income of around $400,000.

In 2008 the position of Manager was created to oversee a revitalisation strategy and Deborah Lowndes was appointed to this position. 

The creation of this role was a critical step for the development of Create, Innovate Gosford City because, as Deborah explains it, she had in her mind an empty space initiative from the outset.

According to Deborah, arts and creative industries became a focus for revitalisation strategies in Gosford because of their success as catalysts for the 'recreation' of other cities.

So I think once you get those little clusters, then you start to get the people, then you start to get the place, and people will really know Gosford for what it is  (Deborah Lowndes interview).

GBID were also aware of the successful model of Renew Newcastle developing nearby. In 2009 Deborah attended a Gosford City Rotary Dinner where Marcus Westbury, founder of Renew Newcastle, spoke, and in early 2010 she attended a presentation on creative enterprise hubs projects by Kim Spinks from Arts NSW.