Pyrmont Ultimo Chamber of Commerce and the Glebe Chamber of Commerce hosted the Newcastle Now, Sydney Next Business Improvement District Forum on July 28 at The Apprentice in Ultimo. Special guest was Newcastle Now, a Business Improvement Association that has set up and manages a self-funded business precinct program in the Newcastle CBD. They were there to share their experience and insights into moving from a “business chamber” model to a more efficient “business improvement association” model.
Newcastle Now’s Executive Manager, Michael Neilson presented a talk in which he listed some of the community projects his organisation had initiated. They included art projects, festivals, community gardens, action for the homeless & lane way revitalisation.
Gregory Fenwick, Economic Development Facilitator for the City of Newcastle, provided valuable information on how Newcastle Now was formed and how the City of Sydney can create something similar.
There was then an opportunity to hear the opinions of four candidates for Lord Mayer: Christine Forster, Angela Vithoulkas, Linda Scott & Lindsay Johnston. They each answered questions from the floor regarding the value and possibilities of a Business Improvement District model.
When the annual budget of Business Chambers in City of Sydney (less than $100,000) is compared with the $1 million in revenue collected by Newcastle Now, it’s not hard to see the attraction of a new way of doing things.
Newcastle Now raises funds by collecting levies from commercial property owners in the area. This allows them more autonomy and flexibility in advancing business activity, initiating community projects and facilitating local events.
The clear and impressive advantage of a Business Improvement District model will no doubt see it explored and likely adopted by many – if not all of Sydney’s Village Business Precincts in the very near future.
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