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Dornoch firms invited to BID for a stronger future

By Niall Harkiss

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THE newly appointed coordinator for a Dornoch business group is calling upon companies to make their thoughts known on how a Business Improvement District (BID) could work for them.

The Dornoch Business Improvement Steering Group appointed Paula White as their new BID coordinator earlier this month, taking their first significant step towards the formation of a new BID in Dornoch.

Newly apppointed BID Coordinator, Paula White, and DACIC member and steering group chair Neil Hampton.
Newly apppointed BID Coordinator, Paula White, and DACIC member and steering group chair Neil Hampton.

Ms White, who previously worked with Lairg & District Learning Centre and currently manages Dornoch Hub, will begin her new role by working with the steering group and conducting surveys with local business owners.

Over the next 12 months, around 200 eligible firms in the Dornoch area will be asked to share their vision for what a BID could do for them, ahead of a vote on whether or not the new process should be established.

The group aims to follow the example of other BIDs that have been established in the Highlands, such as Nairn Connects and Inverness City Centre BID.

Several ballot conditions must be met in order to establish the new scheme – specifically a minimum turnout of 25 per cent of eligible voters, a minimum of 25 per cent of eligible rateable value, and a majority of votes and rateable value in favour of its formation.

The new initiative would be funded via a levy payment from eligible businesses, based on the rateable value of the property occupied or owned by each business.

If the ballot is successful, the outcome would be legally binding for all eligible businesses within the area.

Ms White said: "As a group, we stand stronger together. We can have a stronger voice as a BID and can address issues together. If created, the BID will have a paid person in post who is available to businesses to lobby issues for them. For example, to combat rising energy costs, we may have options to approach energy companies to speak on behalf of the whole Dornoch area to seek better pricing. The same might apply for waste management, or issues at council and government level.

"I have spoken to some businesses who say that finding staff is a real issue at the moment. As a BID we can work with the schools and colleges, as well as employment agencies, to assist these companies.

"Of course, I could suggest many ways that a BID could help Dornoch businesses, but it is down to companies themselves to tell us what they want – we really want to hear what they would like us to do for them as a BID."

The new coordinator will hold her first steering group meeting at the beginning of December, and thereafter will spend the next 12 months speaking to businesses in the IV25 catchment to find out more about the issues facing companies in the area.

Business owners wishing to find out more are invited to contact Ms White via email on bid@dornochhub.co.uk or via mobile phone on 07471 200103.

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