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Apr 14, 2015

CitCo Proposes Business Improvement Area

CARILED, the Caribbean Local Economic Development Project is working in collaboration with the Belize City Council and the Canadian Municipal Association to develop a Business Improvement Area concept. It seeks to have business owners and community agents develop their space for increased economic activity. The initiative which will roll out simultaneously with the Belize City House of Culture and Downtown Rejuvenation Project and will see a working group created to look at areas where collectively tax concessions and security to businesses, among other issues, would be addressed. But for the framework to be effective, it calls for a by-law of the city council or a piece of legislation to institute a management committee and the generation of funds for projects. Mayor Darrell Bradley spoke to the media about the workshop, which is first step into implementing this new structure.

 

Darrell Bradley

Darrell Bradley, Belize City Mayor

“At the end of this workshop, we would want to get a working group so that we can look at setting up by-legislation of business improvement area as a pilot project in the downtown. Now this is a corollary; remember last week we launch the House of Culture and Downtown Urban Redevelopment Project. That is a physical infrastructure project that looks quite heavily at a component of it being community engagement. So that we thought that it would be best to merge the two so that we can look at having a structure in the downtown that allows really the community to be champions of the project. To be actively involved in collaboration and engagement with various components of the project, but to recognize that for any project to be very successful, it has to be people led. So what we did this morning was that we invited all the stakeholders from the business community, the Indian community who are very vibrant downtown; the tourism association, the churches, residents in the downtown, the banks, the various governmental associations, NICH likewise who has been very supportive and the Ministry of Tourism. The business improvement areas in Canada have been hugely successful in that you can look at empirical evidence in relation to the amount of jobs that have been created, the amount of economic opportunities that have been increased in those particular areas. So we are saying that this is a template that has worked in other municipalities. Of course we are very different from Canada, but I think that there is a lot of similarities that we can look at in the downtown. And if we get all the stakeholders together to look at this, collaborate, ‘Belizeanize’ it in a sense in terms of the model; I think that this is a successful fit. And it is timely because between the Belize City Council, NICH, the B.T.B.; there’s going to be a lot of attention going over the next two years in the downtown. So that we can focus on those physical infrastructure projects so that they will be significant amount of monies to the tune of fifteen million dollars that’s going to be spent in the downtown. And in order for that money to have the highest impact, it needs a framework that incorporates people. And this is why the workshop has been hosted this morning.”

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