NYC’s First Business Improvement District Turns 40

On May 6, New York City celebrated the second annual “BID Day,” featuring “door-to-door outreach, clean-up days, community service events, social media campaigns, and live music to showcase the impact of the more than 40 participating Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) on their respective neighborhoods. During the 1970s New York City was particularly hard hit by the nation’s economic stagnation; increased civil unrest; and a large movement of middle-class residents to the suburbs, as the city’s population shrank by more than one-tenth of its total in the prior decade resulting in significantly drained city tax revenues. In 1984, as New York City began “pulling itself out from the depths of a decade of crisis,” a handful of shopkeepers formed the Union Square Partnership, establishing the city’s first Business Improvement District (BID). Over the last 40 years, a total of 75 non-profit organizations have been established, creating the nation’s largest network of BIDs. Covering nearly 300 miles of commercial corridors, BIDs work to raise the profile of our commercial districts and promote the unique characteristics of our neighborhoods through advocacy, community events, beautification, and small business support. Last year alone, the city’s BIDs “infused more than $194 million in services into our city’s local neighborhoods and economy.” In addition, the city’s BIDs played an important role in further bolstering the post-COVID economic recovery by supplementing city services including working hand-in-hand with the New York City Department of Small Business Services (SBS) “to get financial relief directly into the pockets of more than 10,000 business owners.”