STEP

BID TO INVEST £1.8M IN STIRLING OVER NEXT FIVE YEARS

Go Forth Stirling aims to invest £1.8M in the city should the organisation win a second five-year term.

Projections based on the amount of capital from levy payers plus the extra grant funding the BID expects to leverage indicate an expected income in excess of £1.8M.

All monies raised by Go Forth, a not-for-profit company, are reinvested in Stirling to provide additional or improved services identified by local businesses.

Initiatives and business support delivered by Go Forth include free public Wi-Fi, grants for shopfront improvements, Christmas Lights, an extensive free online training platform and the team of Street Ambassadors.

For every pound paid by business owners, via the levy, the team hopes to invest a further 23% during its second term beginning in September.

Danielle McRorie-Smith, Project Director at Go Forth Stirling, said: “Over the past five years we have invested £1.6M in Stirling and our aim for the second term is to leverage more funding to reach a £1.8M investment. 

“In the last two years alone, we’ve managed to secure an extra 62% in funding which has been invested in a variety of projects for city centre businesses and made up for the shortfall in levy payments after these were reduced to support businesses through the challenging times of the Covid pandemic. 

“This means for every pound invested by our businesses, BID has increased the investment to £1.62 by applying for funding which is only available to BIDs and similar organisations. 

“We worked hard to source the additional £299,350 in grant funding over the past two years and will, with the support of Stirling businesses, continue to strive to secure funding and support for the city which is not available to the council, businesses or individuals. 

“This will allow us to continue with our many initiatives, grant schemes and help us drive the regeneration of Stirling city centre.” 

The value for money demonstrated by Go Forth in recent years is one reason some business owners have changed their mind about supporting the organisation. 

Jordan Henderson, of family firm House of Henderson, and Mandy Silver who runs Stirling’s Curly Coo Bar both voted against the BID at the first ballot in 2017. 

However, each now plans to vote ‘Yes’ when it comes to re-election in May. 

Mr Henderson said: “I voted `No’ the first time around and I think I probably wasn’t that confident about what a BID does and how it differs from the council. 

“Now, having seen how much Go Forth has actually done for Stirling over the past few years, I’ve changed my mind and would definitely advise anyone to support the BID. 

“The team were particularly helpful during the pandemic with the constant support which was offered and the communications around grants and help available nationwide. 

“There was a feeling that we were all in it together and the BID was there to support you and your business so you were not on your own. 

“They made a big effort in difficult circumstances and are always trying to make positive steps and bring people into the town with events such as Bricklive and investment in the Winter Light Trail – these are all schemes that are not being done by anyone else and wouldn’t happen without the BID. 

“I think they offer excellent value for money although businesses do need to engage and make an effort to see how they can take advantage of, for example, the grants on offer.

 “Generally, I like the fact they actually get things done and it’s not just about box ticking so I am definitely going to vote `Yes’ based on performance over the past few years.” 

Mandy Silver says she voted ‘No’ in the initial 2017 BID ballot as she felt there was not enough information on offer and didn’t anticipate any real benefits for Stirling.

She has now changed her mind due in part to the BID team’s efforts during the Covid crisis.

She says: “During the pandemic they were so helpful – they are a great wee team who are very efficient and we were provided with PPE items including social distancing stickers and screens which was brilliant.

“I also loved Street Stories which is a fantastic project to get people coming into the town.

“I’ve been pleased with how good they’ve been when it comes to lobbying the council – for example when they lobbied relentlessly against licensing fees and out-of-town retail parks and managed to block additional masts being introduced to the city centre.

“I like knowing that if you have got a question, you can ring them and ask and if they don’t know the answer, they will find out for you.

“They are always working for us and for Stirling and are extremely proactive so I’m going to vote ‘Yes’ this time round.”

The renewal ballot begins in late May with the results expected in early July.

If successful, the BID will run for a second term and continue to support the 600 businesses in the zone with a key objective of increasing visitors to the city and devising initiatives to help make it a more welcoming destination for businesses and shoppers alike. 

For more information visit www.goforthstirling.co.uk

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