Andrew Cooper: Initiatives brought to you by LeedsBID
As you move about the city, you will have spotted some exciting new initiatives that have been brought to you by LeedsBID - from major, innovative statement events and pieces to the more fundamental everyday improvements.
Some of this work you can’t miss (and we don’t want you to!) – the iconic Leeds Letters welcoming people on arrival in Leeds Station; Athena Rising, the UK’s tallest piece of street art adorning the side of the new Platform building; and our bowler hatted Welcome Ambassadors out daily on the streets. Other subtle enhancements include the cleanliness of the city’s streets as our Street Ranger team works hard jet-washing pavements and walkways and removing chewing gum on a daily basis.
Now well established and close to completing its third year, LeedsBID, the Business Improvement District, is making its mark with real results in helping to transform the city for the benefit of all who come to live, work and play here.
LeedsBID is the collective voice and funding of the business community in LS1 who want to see Leeds continue to be a thriving and growing city centre, the economic engine of the region while raising the profile of Leeds nationally and internationally.
Last week saw the second Eat Leeds Restaurant Week on the menu, a celebration of the city’s food scene - a strong and rapidly growing business sector. Over 100 restaurants and a special Leeds Night Market took part to entice people to sample the outstanding culinary offer available across Leeds. A project initiated by businesses and funded by them through LeedsBID, it has provided a targeted, supportive campaign for this important sector while also working to help bring both the venues and wider city centre increased economic benefits.
April sees the return of the Leeds International Festival – back for its second year. A metropolitan festival of new ideas and innovation celebrating local creativity and international culture. This year #leedsintfest will run over two weeks, with highlights including talking space travel with the first Briton to go out of this world, sex, love and Artificial Intelligence, music from the UK’s only blind orchestra and a celluloid celebration of Leeds Rhinos.
Again, this was an idea driven forward by the business community who want an experiential city centre that entices in both new and existing customers to enjoy the wide cultural, tech and digital offering in Leeds.
A brighter Light Night Leeds in 2016 and 2017, along with a growing Leeds Indie Food festival are other examples of projects which have received injections of investment and new ideas from LeedsBID that continue to drive the city forward as an exciting and dynamic UK destination.
LeedsBID’s success is also benefiting the BID sector further afield and bringing enhancement for other regional towns and cities embracing the opportunities business improvement districts bring. As BIDs become more recognised and established across the UK since their inception in 2004, LeedsBID (the largest Business Improvement District outside of London) is being asked to support, guide and mentor neighbours including Morley, Bradford, Harrogate and Wakefield in establishing their own Business Improvement Districts.
A bold, progressive and aspirational new national body for BIDs, The BID Foundation, has recently launched, which is run and managed by the Institute of Place Management, and asked LeedsBID to be represented and to chair the National Council.
This is a great accolade and shows recognition for the great momentum and work that is taking place in the city by LeedsBID, demonstrating a further positive promotion of ‘brand Leeds’ on an important national stage.