A collaborative approach is key to dealing with some of the issues faced by the high street, according to the boss of Leeds Business Improvement District (BID).
Speaking at the launch of LeedsBID’s next business plan, chief executive Andrew Cooper said the city was weather the storm faced by retailers “pretty well”.
Mr Cooper told The Yorkshire Post that the LeedsBID had been successful in bringing businesses, that normally wouldn’t collaborate, together.
“Rather than facing some of those challenges in isolation,” he said, “when we work collaboratively together we can start to address them.”
Mr Cooper added: “The larger businesses have seen the benefits of working collaboratively.
“Business that ordinarily wouldn’t sit around a table together - some of whom are competitors - are actually working for the collective good. Why? Because they want to see Leeds do well.”
The chief executive of the LeedsBID highlighted the recent Leeds Jurassic Trail that it helped organise as an example of businesses coming together for the benefit of everyone.
LeedsBID unveiled a business plan detailing over £14m of investment in the city centre between 2020 and 2025.
Mr Cooper called on all levy paying businesses to vote to give the BID a second term.
The difference between the first business plan and this one is that the BID has greater clarity as to what businesses want to see, says Mr Cooper.
He said 75 per cent of the plan was going to be a continuation of the work it was already doing.
“The key difference for me is the 25 per cent of our business plan, which is totally new and innovative,” Mr Cooper added.
The new elements of the business plan concentrates on the green agenda as well as being more innovative through the events the organisation puts on.
LeedsBID is also looking into the feasibility of growing the BID to include the waterfront south of the River Aire.
Mr Cooper said that with Leeds city centre on target to double in size over the coming years, the Southbank regeneration area is of considerable importance.
LeedsBID is aiming to act as connector and catalyst in supporting the changing needs of businesses and organisations in the area.
Jen Mitchell, general manager at First Direct Arena, took part in a panel discussion at the unveiling of the business plan.
She praised LeedsBID’s work especially around the welcome it offers to people coming into the city. Ms Mitchell added that touring artists had noted how welcoming Leeds was as a city.
Since the LeedsBID was launched back in 2015, Business Improvement Districts have grown across Yorkshire and Mr Cooper says the different BIDs are already working together by sharing ideas.
Mr Cooper said: “In 2010 there were two Business Improvement Districts in Yorkshire. In 2019 there are 17. It’s good to share best practice because different towns and areas benefit.
There’s also a cross pollination of ideas. If you just stay insular and don’t look externally then you can’t grow as a city. You can’t respond. You can’t be innovative.”
The greatest challenge in the first term of the BID was making organisations understand the “additionality” it would bring to the city, says Mr Cooper. He likened it to being the cherry on the cake.
“That challenge has been overcome,” Mr Cooper said. “Businesses see the positive work, the positive investment.”
Levy payers will have the opportunity to vote on the second term from October 10 to November 7.