THE business community in Penzance is about to embark on the process which could see it become the eighth town in Cornwall to create a Business Improvement District (BID).
Through a levy on firms in the BID area it could generate £170,000 over five years for town-centre improvements.
Around 400 businesses have been invited to the launch, at the Zennor Building at Penwith College next Wednesday, to find out more, including what other BIDs in Cornwall – such as Truro, Falmouth and Newquay – have achieved during their five-year terms.
BIDs are 'business-led for business benefit' and operate in defined geographical areas.
A consultation identifies possible projects which are costed and then published in a final proposal on which eligible businesses can vote in a 28-day postal ballot.
For Penzance, a 2 per cent levy would create a ring-fenced fund of approximately £850,000 over a five-year term, managed by a not-for-profit company.
A BID steering group made up of representatives of 14 businesses has met several times to discuss developing a BID and the area it should cover.
If businesses show support for developing a BID, Cornwall Council will provide officer support until the ballot closes.
Steering group chairman Marcus Wilkinson, from Alfred Smith & Son, said: "It's really important the business community participates in the consultation if we're to develop a relevant and achievable action plan which focuses on their priorities. This is a tremendous opportunity to have a direct input into the future direction of our town centre."
James Pulford from Wharfside Shopping Centre, a member of the steering group, said: "A BID will give all businesses within its boundary a voice to support projects and actions they feel are important not just to the future of the business community, but also the town as a whole."
If feedback is positive, businesses will be consulted during this year, with a ballot in December or January; a "yes" vote would mean project delivery could begin in April 2015, with the funds raised available until May 2020.
Businesspeople who have not been invited to the launch and would like to come can contact Mario Cortes on 01872 327304 or e-mail mcortes@ cornwall.gov.uk