ST IVES has taken the next step towards launching a consultation on creating a Business Improvement District (BID) which could be a huge boost to the town's economy.
The town's ambitious chamber of trade and commerce had a successful meeting with Cornwall Council's BID development officer at the end of last week.
Now the group says it has a "timetable" for the next few weeks as it looks at getting other groups in town on board with the idea.
BIDs are five-year programmes that can rejuvenate a town's economic fortunes by focusing on improvements, issues and events to promote trade.
St Ives' embryonic BID is still only at the stage of attempting to generate enough funding and support for a consultation.
That would then last a year and would require support from 51 per cent of the businesses in the town centre – who would fund the BID through a levy based on their rateable value.
The estimated cost for the consultation alone is £27,000.
St Ives chamber – which is keen to link up with other groups to demonstrate it is not just a chamber initiative – has already secured a £10,000 grant towards the 12-month consultation.
They are now in detailed discussions with other groups and businesses to see if they should take the next step and launch the consultation – and find the remaining £17,000.
Chamber secretary Paul Ford said: "After the meeting on Friday with Cornwall Council we have been able to set ourselves a timetable for the next three to four weeks.
"We need to discuss the advantages and disadvantages of a BID in St Ives, whether it sits well with the town, whether we as an organisation want to proceed.
"We need to make that decision by the end of February. Then we will need, if we decide to do it, to think about how we will start reaching that £17,000 target."
BIDs have proved a success in a number of Cornish towns – with only Camborne having any real problems – and the Totally Truro BID has transformed the city.
Neil Scott, BID manager for Totally Truro, has already urged businesses in St Ives to get on board with the idea of a BID and has made presentations to local businesses.
While the chamber will now conduct "detailed one-to-one discussions" with key players and groups in the town, the wider business community will be invited to the chamber's next open meeting at the Harbour Hotel on Tuesday, February 26, to hear about the plans.
Mr Ford said: "If we do go ahead with a consultation, and we probably do have to make a decision about that by the end of February, that is still not a commitment to having a BID. But it would be stage one of launching a consultation into having a BID."