Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) are organizations formed by private property owners and businesses within a legally constituted city district. Members pay a special tax to cover the expense of providing their BID with services beyond what the local government offers in their area. The legalities of forming a BID vary from state to state, but the organizations are often created simply by the approval by a majority of local business and property owners, by those who control a majority of the land area, or by owners responsible for the majority of the fees assessed.
BIDS -- which are sometimes referred to as business improvement zones, as well as special improvement, special assessment, special services, and/or business assistance districts -- can range in size and scope. Some are independent of local government, having almost complete autonomy to finance, construct, and manage specific projects, while others are dependent on local government, created only to raise revenue for specific projects. The benefits of belonging to a BID vary, also: Some BIDs simply supplement the district's maintenance offerings, providing extra sanitation and landscaping services, while others expand into economic and community development.
For example, BIDs can:
Starting a BID: A Step-by-Step Guide Interested in starting a BID? This 30 page guide from New York City walks you through the process.
BID Fact Sheet + Bibliography A great article from Gotham Gazette on the pros and cons of BIDs, as well as a listing of BIDs nationwide.
More BID resources:BID Fact Sheet and Bibliography The pros and cons of BIDs, as well as a listing of BIDs nationwide.
Lists of BIDs and Supporting Organizations Links to BIDs, organized by state.
How to Form a BID Need to create a BID? Consultants Main Street Group explain how.
Paying for the Public Life Why business leaders to small retailers are willingly paying fees to support BIDs.
BID Agreements from General Services Administration A listing of agreements that GSA has with BIDs and cities across the U.S.