Lochaber businesses to vote on public partnership

Business in Lochaber are to vote on a new public and private partnership - pictured Mallaig.
Business in Lochaber are to vote on a new public and private partnership - pictured Mallaig.
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Businesses in Lochaber can today start voting on a scheme that will bring almost £2million of funding into the area.

Around 1,000 businesses across the Highland region have the next six weeks to decide on whether they want to establish a Business Improvement District (BID) – a partnership approach between the private and public sectors designed to improve a local area in line with business need. If approved, the Lochaber BID will be the largest in the UK.

Businesses which have a rateable value of at least £2,000 will be able to vote on whether Lochaber gets a BID – which, over a period of five years, will raise £1.8m through a levy, to deliver key projects. With match funding opportunities, this figure could more than double.

“This is a real opportunity for local businesses to help themselves and raise a dedicated source of funding, which will be channelled into projects that support business growth and survival,” said Frazer Coupland, Chairman of Living Lochaber – the Group behind the BID.

The Business Plan, which has been available for businesses to view online since 17th October, sets the agenda for the delivery of key marketing and infrastructure projects across Lochaber over the next five years.

Voting papers, along with the BID Business Plan, have been posted out to every eligible business in the area; and the vote will stay open until 5pm on Wednesday 12th December.

“We’ve been out and spoken to businesses about what they feel could bring real value to the area. Creating a BID will empower local companies, allowing them to direct funding to initiatives that will be of direct benefit to their business, while also supplying services over and above those delivered by the Council.

“It is likely that funding that has been made available to Lochaber businesses in the past will be reduced. A BID will help to alleviate some of the potential shortfall, enable us to attract match funding and investment, and support infrastructure, marketing and events which bring critical funds into the local economy and benefit all businesses.

“If the BID is successfully voted in, the next five years will be an exciting time to run a business in Lochaber. Having a BID will represent an investment in all of our futures, and will create a better environment in which local companies can thrive,” he said.