Urban Business Improvement District

Urban Business Improvement District

Strategic Plan

Special tax districts, called “business improvement districts” or “BIDs,” are nonprofits that provide complementary municipal services. They can function with a degree of independence from government but must respond to public need to maintain broad support. A major New York BID, proud to be amongst the largest, wanted to ensure it remained among the most responsive, particularly in a changing part of the city.


Planning did not come naturally for the board and staff of an entity that had long provided a set of services that were quotidian in nature – principally focused on sanitation, security and marketing. But the pace of change in the community it served had escalated rapidly so the need to understand its impact on core mission and services required data and insight they were lacking.


Plan A Advisors teamed with a major real estate consulting firm to lead a six-month process to develop a Strategic Plan to guide the future work of the BID’s staff and board – and to determine where it should best invest in new services. The process would combine subject expertise with needed input from those outside the organization gathered through a variety of research exercises.

Product &

• Formed a Steering Committee that placed members of the board and staff on equal footing – a first for an organization that saw little interaction between them in the past.
• Conducted confidential interviews with community leaders from the public and private sectors, and roundtable conversations with industry groups and the entire staff to identify deficits in the organization’s current functions and opportunities that might lead it in new directions.
• Employed industry research to project shifts in population, commercial occupancy and visitor trends that informed the development of major goals around advocacy, services and new audiences, as well as technology applications.
• Empowered staff to develop ambitious plans; and encouraged professional leadership to put an organizational structure in place to better support staff and their ambitions.
• Won the approval of a formerly dis-engaged board for the Strategic Plan and for their increased role in spearheading selected initiatives.