Some of the business people behind the idea of creating a Business Improvement District in Drogheda (from left): Declan Kierans of the Pain Factory, Joe Stafford of Stafford’s Deli, Geoff Fitzpatrick of Fitz Scientific and Niall Kieran’s of Kieran’s Deli.
A group of local business people have come up with an initiative which they hope will make Drogheda a better place to live and to do business and they are prepared to pay extra rates to pay for it.
The rationale is that if a town is good place to live and also attractive to visitors it can only be good for business. The group, all of them rate payers, are working on putting a Drogheda Business Improvement District (BID) proposal together.
A BID is a defined area where businesses are required to pay an additional rate levy in order to fund projects within that area. The additional charge or levy is ring fenced and used to finance shared common projects. For existing BID companies elsewhere in Ireland the BID levy ranges from 1.5% to 5% of additional rates.
Niall Kieran’s of Kieran’s Deli on West Street said “This is a great opportunity for Drogheda’s rate payers to get together and decide what projects they would like their rates spent on. It also provides a structure for local businesses to work on shared goals like tourism and enterprise development.”
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The BID is operated through a company with an elected board comprising of rate payers along with two co-opted board members – a county councillor and an executive from Louth County Council.
“There are lots of quick fix stuff that rate payers can sort out quickly”, says Declan Kierans of the Pain Factory, Laurence Street, “things such as – foot fall counters, WiFii hot spots, town watch and town signage that needs a radical overhaul.”
Jackie Jolliffe of The Crafty Fox; Drogheda’s Fabric Crafts and Haberdashery store in Laurence Street says: “Christmas lights will be first priority – our town looks like a downtrodden poor relation to most other towns in Ireland when it comes to festive lights in my opinion.
“This is not just from a retailer’s perspective but from a pride in my town perspective! We also need to make more use of our river, with the Boyneside Trail, river taxi, tourist routes to Oldbridge and tap into local legends such as the Salmon of Knowledge.”
The group are planning to submit a BID proposal to Louth County Council next month. Following a public consultation period the BID proposal will then be voted on in a plebiscite of the BID area rate payers.
Geoff Fitzpatrick of Fitz Scientific says: “We need to be looking at the bigger picture stuff – more enterprise development space, attracting indigenous businesses to set up in Drogheda, education and training resources for highly skilled people zoned development land for inward investment and most importantly, creating jobs for people living in Drogheda.”
If a majority of rate payers vote in favour, the BID for Drogheda will then be enacted. Drogheda could then join a growing number of towns and cities throughout Ireland with a BID in place, including Dublin Town, Sandyford, Dun Laoghaire, Dundalk and Sligo.
Joe Stafford of Stafford’s Deli in Laurence Street is also giving Drogheda’s BID proposal his full backing.
“We’re looking at developing a five year tourism plan and a business attraction task force designed to showcase Drogheda as a highly attractive location to set up business.
“This will include reviewing current co-working facilities, working with local education – DIFE, DKIT and DCU and enterprise offices of IDA, Enterprise Ireland, LEO and DBEI.”
The Drogheda BID working group will be holding workshops at the Westcourt Hotel on Monday 12 November and Wednesday 28 November at 6:15pm. All Drogheda rate payers and public representatives are welcome to attend.
“We are seeking their input, ideas and suggestions on a proposed Business Improvement District for Drogheda” said Geoff Fitzpatrick.