By Phil Prentice, Programme Director, Scotland’s Improvement Districts
Today is a big day for Scotland’s economy, with the launch of Scotland’s Improvement Districts (SIDs) the new national centre for Improvement Districts in Scotland. It’s a vital new initiative from Scotland’s Towns Partnership that will support the operation and growth of the network of Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) across the country.
Crucially, though, this is not just about local initiatives – though they are absolutely vital – this is also about the cumulative impact that these innovative and creative local initiatives can have on the inclusive growth agenda for the country.
Over the summer, we have been working hard with BID managers and directors, as well other stakeholders, from across the country to understand what they need from their national centre to support their work, and encourage their future success. We’ve been understanding what has worked well in the past, and what can work better in the future, and reimagining the support systems that will be put in place to ensure even greater success.
I’m grateful to everyone that has contributed so helpfully over that period. I make this commitment – we will do everything necessary under the new banner of Scotland’s Improvement Districts to see that more of Scotland benefits from the transformational change that BIDs can bring about.
The strength of the Improvement Districts proposition is in its simplicity. By pooling and sharing resources, local businesses, working with other private, public and third sector partners, take a leading role in improving local economic conditions by delivering an agreed package of investment and initiatives over and beyond that delivered by local and national government.
The new model will be a more innovative, flexible and holistic approach, which leverages greater corporate-community-public partnerships, to deliver the ambitions of local businesses and communities. After all, local businesses and local people are best placed to understand the needs of their local economy. Improvement Districts provide the forum to develop and deliver an agreed action plan that addresses those needs by bringing people and business together.
But we can’t realise this type of local inclusive growth by working by ourselves or in silos. Our new approach is predicated on fostering great mutually beneficial local and national partnerships with the public and private sectors.
If each of the Improvement Districts in Scotland are working as part of a wider partnership then that’s where we will see the local focus that is important to businesses and communities, but with a national impact.
That’s our vision for a dynamic, innovative Improvement Districts programme that plays a vital role in delivering a prosperous inclusive Scottish economy.