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Love Oban: BID helps to drive business and pride

BID4Oban, Jackie Kerr, owner of Button Nose Boutique. July 2022. Picture: Scotland’s Towns Partnership

Encouraging people to love where they live is a key part of any improvement district’s work, as businesses Oban will tell you.

The town’s Business Improvement District, BID4Oban, is at the forefront of championing local life and encouraging residents and visitors to support local enterprises and events.

Since its inception in 2012, it has been behind a range of activities and initiatives, ranging from supporting shopfront improvements and floral displays to supporting events, festivals and marketing the area.

The BID has also been at the forefront of the Love Oban campaign and its highly successful gift voucher scheme, providing another way in which people can show their support for shops, cafes and other attractions in the community.

It was a campaign which also played a key part in supporting local businesses as they emerged from the coronavirus lockdown, dovetailing with the wider Scotland Loves Local campaign, led nationally by Scotland’s Towns Partnership, encouraging people to think, choose and spend locally.

BID4Oban chief executive Andrew Spence said: “The BID has had a huge impact on the town, bringing huge benefits in terms of marketing, supporting local businesses, our Love Oban vouchers, funding events, festivals and more.

“Having an improvement district has brought a lot of businesses together. We had a huge impact during Covid when we were able to provide support in so many ways, including advertising those who were open and letting people know who was trading.

BID4Oban chief executive Andrew Spence. July 2022. Picture: Scotland’s Towns Partnership

“The levy money does an awful lot for the town. If the BID wasn’t here we wouldn’t have that money. And we have used that to lever additional financial support from other sources as well.”

With tourism a major part of the local economy – and Oban Scotland’s Seafood Capital – the events and festivals organised or supported by the BID help attract visitors who generate footfall and extra income for local businesses of all kinds.

Jackson’s Butchers has been trading in the town centre for 90 years.

Owner Alistair Jackson said: “The improvement district has helped with the enhancement of the town – making it look better, including with floral displays and improved shopfronts. It has also helped with events, making footfall higher. All these things added together have really helped the town and my business.”

Jackie Kerr, of gift shop Button Nose Boutique, added: “Oban’s a fantastic place to do business. We have a huge amount of visitors coming in, especially through the ferry terminal with people travelling to and from the islands, but the support of local people is vital.”

On the impact of the BID, she added: “I am a huge fan of the BID. We take the Love Oban vouchers, which have been great. The BID team are also there for advice, to promote the town and so much more. 

“A BID means growth for your business. Having a BID behind us is a massive support – support that we really need.”

Hardware and tool suppliers Highland Fasteners is one of the businesses which benefited from the shopfront improvement programme led by BID4Oban.

Director Sean Murdoch said: “The BID’s fantastic. The grant we secured was terrific.

“People in Oban really stick together. There’s a real community who want locals to do well.”

The BID is funded by a small levy which is charged to every business in Oban with a rateable value of £3,000 or more. The smallest levy paid is £150 per annum up to £5,000 for the largest  businesses. This generates an annual income of £145,000. The levy is  used to supplement and fund services and grants for which there would be no funding available if the BID was not in place.

Insurance brokers Marsh Commercial is another of the BID’s members.

Graham Marsh, from the firm, said: “We’ve been supportive of the BID since day one. It’s a glue which binds the business community in Oban together, allowing us to do things collectively that may otherwise be out of our reach

“A vibrant business community is key to any area. Having a focussed local BID in place means we can channel support to pull in the same direction to achieve shared outcomes.”

BID4Oban’s work is underpinned by key objectives:

  • Making the best first impression
  • Shouting about what’s happening in Oban
  • Extending the visitor season
  • Making Oban the place to stay, explore and spend
  • Working together for a more prosperous future
  • Making the town easier to visit

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