News from the Top

The Evolution of a BID


Place management is an ever-evolving profession. Recently, this topic has become a common theme for research, education, and in-depth discussion. Just last week, I provided some thoughts at the Downtowns Atlantic Canada annual conference on this very theme.

In recent years, the topic of BID 2.0 has been raised time and again as the demand for services beyond traditional clean and safe, placemaking, or marketing and communications continues to increase. I would argue that we have long exceeded 2.0 and, more importantly, continue to develop place management 4.0 or even 5.0.

Many of the leading organizations within the IDA membership, such as Denver, Philadelphia, Houston and others, evolved over time into a variety of entities housed within a singular organization. In addition to the clean and safe programs as part of a BID, these other organizations included a membership, organization, and events entity, a redevelopment entity, and others. Throughout the recent decades, organizations like Downtown Wichita evolved from a traditional downtown entity to become the Wichita Partnership with jurisdiction over the quality of downtown space in addition to focusing on economic development for the entire city – jobs and talent. Alternatively, in places like Cincinnati, Ohio, 3CDC started as a redevelopment agency and, more recently, took on the responsibility of managing the downtown area.  All of this to say many IDA member organizations have evolved and continue to do so in response to the needs of the community.

There are many examples of how place management organizations have evolved over the past 20 to 30 years. Yet they have always strived towards a singular goal of creating complete and successful urban places.

As we now find ourselves in the post-pandemic rebuilding phase, traditional bids and place management organizations face questions of how to overcome the next era of city building. What will be the ongoing role of IDA member organizations in response to challenges throughout the public realm, such as mental health or substance abuse and addiction? To what extent do IDA members lean into the housing crisis impacting many of our communities? How will our organizations address both the real and perceived public safety concerns? What will be the innovative alternatives to storefront economies? It is clear these questions will be raised to IDA member organizations, and they will need to determine an intentional response that may include strategically evolving the nature of the organization.

I believe these are the challenges we will face in the years ahead; these are the conversations we will have in our community of practitioners at regional conferences, at the World Town Leadership Summit in July, and most certainly this fall in Chicago at the IDA Annual Conference & Marketplace.