It happens all the time: there are certain things entrepreneurs and commercial property owners know they need in their business district to really thrive—a relentless approach to maintenance, a high level of cleanliness, increased public safety, splashes of beauty, physical improvements, etc.—yet their town or city can’t afford to provide them.
How to fill those gaps? For an increasing number of places, the answer is to form a business improvement district. Business improvement districts are designed to help close the gaps in communities without the tax base to provide the services and improvements essential for economic development.
Today’s guest on the Strong Towns podcast is an expert on business improvement districts. Chris Bernardo is president and CEO of Commercial District Services, a Jersey City-based firm that manages business improvement districts in New York and Bernardo's native New Jersey. In this episode, Bernardo and Strong Towns president Chuck Marohn talk about why many cities don’t have the resources to keep a place looking good and working well, how that hurts businesses, and why business improvement districts are a powerful and flexible solution. They contrast how cities usually approach maintenance with how Disney theme parks approach maintenance. And they talk about why the business improvement district is a pragmatic and practical model more cities should be utilizing.
Additional Show Notes
- Commercial District Services
- Chris Bernardo (LinkedIn)
- Chris Bernardo (Twitter)
- Charles Marohn (Twitter)
- Become a Strong Towns member
- Related Strong Towns content on economic development and maintenance
- “If We’re Not Going to Maintain What We Have, Then Why Bother Building Anything New?” by Charles Marohn
- “What we can learn from Disney's Main Street,” by Michael von Hausen
- “Amid COVID-19, Local Governments Are Coming Through for Local Businesses,” by Daniel Herriges
- “How should my town be doing economic recovery right now?” by Rachel Quednau
- “How Paul Stewart Inspired His Neighbors to Revitalize Their Declining Neighborhoods”
- “Chris Gibbons: This Is How You Grow a Local Economy” (Podcast)
- “How Does Your (Economic) Garden Grow?” (Podcast)