Watertown Looks At Creating Business Improvement District

Watertown Looks At Creating Business Improvement District

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As new businesses pop up around downtown Watertown, city leaders and small business owners are coming together to talk about ways to keep the revitalization going.

To City Manager Rick Finn that comes back to one key word: marketing.

"I think the marketing is an element that is somewhat lacking," he said.

One idea to improve that is to be establish a Business Improvement District or a BID. It's a concept where businesses in a district pay a little more in taxes to fund improvements.

There are 1,500 BIDs in the U.S. and Canada and one right in Syracuse. Heather Shroeder of the Downtown Committee of Syracuse was the guest speaker and explained, in Syracuse, the group does everything from cleaning up streets and security to economic development and marketing and communications.  

"Which promote all the wonderful things that are going on whether it's an individual business' happy hour or sale promotion or a festival or event," she said.

Finn says he's had experience with BIDs in other cities he's worked in. As for if it would work in Watertown, Finn says the downtown would need to be interested.

"I think if they're interested, the city is going to have a sit-down and work with them. The elected officials would be the ones that actually improve it under state law. So there's a lot of work to be done," he said.

Finn says there have been some positive indications that there's some interest in creating a BID.

The summit ended with a panel of city department heads listening to what small business owners thought the city could do to make improvements.

Finn says he hopes to continue the small business summits by hosting one or two a year.

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