ENNISKILLEN has been chosen to pilot a Business Improvement Districts (BIDS) programme.

Originating in Toronto in the 1970s, BIDs entail local businesses paying a levy towards improvements or initiatives to enhance their trading environment. The Assembly passed the Business Improvement Districts Act on March 21, 2013. The Enniskillen BID levy would equate to a rates rise of approximately 0.2-1 per cent.

Enniskillen Business Partnership has been interested in creating a BID for some time. In January, it successfully applied to take part in a Department of Social Development (DSD) BID pilot scheme. Building on the funding it received to market Enniskillen under the DSD Revitalisation Fund, which it used to create a logo and a TV advert, the Enniskillen BID would further develop the marketing and promotion of Enniskillen town centre.

Enniskillen Business Partnership member Terry McCartney made the presentation to DSD accompanied by Fermanagh District Council Economic Development Officer Anne Quinn.

Chairman Joe Kelly is glad to see Enniskillen chosen.

“We will continue the marketing programme in place at the moment, on TV, in print, a PR campaign and signage,” he explains. “We would like to progress that into having a town manager and to put on our own events.” Ideas include a retail week; organising packages with hotels; and another ‘Meet you down the town’ festival.

“We would like to put together a marketing team that would go out and sell Enniskillen,” Mr. Kelly adds. “Parking issues and a possible barrier system are other issues that are important to town centre businesses,” he comments.

On the BID levy, he states: “Yes, everyone will have to pay more rates, but this is our chance to take our future destiny into our own hands. Shopping centres such as Erneside currently pay six per cent into a fund which pays for marketing. Town centre shops don’t have that. In this day and age, rates can’t cover everything. This will gather up a pot of funds that will benefit everyone.” The seven areas across Northern Ireland – Enniskillen, Belfast Lisburn Road, Strabane, Belfast Cathedral Quarter, Newry, Belfast City Centre and Ballymena – will receive free workshops from now until October. These will be run by a BID Academy, which is a consortium of the Mosaic Partnership, Place Solutions and the Association of Town and City Management.

The workshops will help Enniskillen Business Partnership define the BID area and the plans to market the town and to finalise the BID levy. Then, Mr. Kelly explains, he will have to “sell the idea to businesses in Enniskillen”.