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Apr 14, 2015

…Will It Work in Belize City?

Andrea Steenbakker

But the implementation of the BIA into the city’s framework comes with its compromises. Particularly for the business owners; while businesses will be given the opportunity to develop a collective voice on respective issues, it will come at a cost. Canadian Consultant, Andrea Steenbakker, spoke about the benefits to both the public and private sector.

 

Andrea Steenbakker, Canadian Consultant

“In order to make change happen and make things better, there is always an element of work involved. So in terms of the business owners, if a BIA model is something that they choose that would fit this situation, they are going to have to invest a little bit of their time to get this going. Putting together a steering committee, having meetings, discussing what sort of things are going to make things better, what type of problems exists and creative solutions on how to deal with the problems and get rid of them. And that includes ways that the other stakeholders can help the businesses owners identify how can the B.T.B. help us more, how can the municipal government help us more and go to those stakeholders with an organized list on behalf of a group of businesses and not just one person saying I don’t like this and I think you should do this cause you are going to have a lot more clout if you actually go about it in a thoughtful and organized fashion. And of course there is a small monetary contribution that will be required as well, but that too will be set completely by the business owners. So they decide what’s our budget, what do we want to do, how much it is going to cost? How it’s going to be split up amongst all the businesses—you’re gonna pay this much, I’m gonna pay this much; maybe it is determined by the size of the businesses in the area. And those funds could also be leverage though because you can get incentives from your local government that will match fund projects. So all of a sudden, your five thousand dollars as a group of small businesses can become ten thousand dollars if the municipality says sure we see that you are taking initiatives, you really want this to happen; this is important to you. So if you are willing to give five thousand dollars out of your pocket, we’re gonna match fund that and all of a sudden your money is doubled.”

 

Darrell Bradley

Darrell Bradley, Belize City Mayor

“You are looking at how a community will engage with the space so that everything that’s done, has buy in. It doesn’t mean that everybody has to agree. It doesn’t mean that everybody has to agree, it doesn’t mean that there won’t be a vision that is laid out by the municipality, but that you engage with people in a very powerful way. So that this workshop is the first of many. We want to go on into setting up an appropriate structure and from this we would want to have a working group whereby we identify people who will have the time and who will have the willingness to participate in the structure; to work very, very closely with the physical aspects of the project so that at the end of the day people are saying we are very happy with this.”

 

The management committee for the BIA would see the election of the members by the business community.

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