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Step 5: Establish Business Improvement Districts or Other Non-Profits

Up next in the “12 Steps to Revitalization” is “Establish Business Improvement Districts or Other Non-Profits”.  You’ll recall that we’ve discussed “Capturing a Vision,” “Developing a Strategic Plan,” “Forging Healthy Private/Public Partnerships,” and “Making the Right Thing Easy”. 

What do they mean by “Business Improvement Districts”? 

Step five is focused on creating an entity that is solely focused on the downtown with the ability to leverage dollars to increase amenities. According to Leinberger, Business Improvement Districts “serve as a quasi-government for the downtown, the “keeper of the flame” of the downtown strategy, and the provider of services the city government cannot deliver.” These districts are made up of property owners in the downtown who have aggreed to pay a bit more in property taxes.  Those additional funds are then used to implement the agreed-upon strategy and vision for the downtown. Funds may be used to host an annual festival, increase lighting, or provide marketing support. 

After a Business Improvement District is created, Leinberger suggests that other nonprofit entities may be created. Each nonprofit would have its own unique section of a thriving downtown including affordable housing, Arts and Culture, or parking. Together these entities then work with the Business Improvement District to fulfill the vision for the downtown. 

How Does Step 6 Apply to Albion? 

In Albion, we do not have a Business Improvement District. However, we do have a Downtown Development Authority (DDA), a Brownfield Redevelopment Authority (BRA) and a Tax Increment Financing (TIF) Authority is in process. Each of these entities has a specific purpose in connection to downtown redevelopment. 

  • The purpose of the DDA includes but is not limited to “correct and prevent deterioration in business districts, encourage historic preservation, and promote economic growth within the district (source).
  • BRA are created to  “facilitate the implementation of Brownfield Plans relating to the identification and treatment of environmental distressed (functionally obsolete and/or blighted) areas so as to promote revitalization within the municipal limits of Albion” (source).
  • TIFA’s “provide a means for an eligible district, area, or property to capture increases in property tax revenue from other taxing authorities to help fund certain eligible activities” (source). 

Together these entities can help lessen barriers to development, provide access to funds and promote economic growth within the community. Albion Reinvestment Corporation, as a nonprofit, adds an additional layer of support, investment and focus on Albion’s downtown. 

Albion Reinvestment Corporation is working closely with the City of Albion, the Albion Economic Development Corporation and officials at the state level to identify and structure funding that will make the Big Albion Plan a reality. It will take cooperation, trust, and a vision for a bright future to turn the plan in reality. We are well on our way and hope you will continue to support our work in downtown Albion.

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