Business Improvement District celebrates 25 years

NORWICH – The city’s Business Improvement District – formed in October 1986 – celebrated its 25-year anniversary with an overview of its history, a number of guest speakers and an update on the East and West Parks project at its annual meeting Friday.

BID Board President Deb Sylstra said there were several questions raised when the BID was originally created over two decades ago, with many people asking if the organization was even necessary and wondering if it would it survive.

“Thankfully, we live in a community where people step up and serve,” said Sylstra, who added that – since it was formed – the BID has been involved with – and responsible for – a number of successful projects.

Incorporated as a non-profit corporation in 1992, the original goals of the BID remain constant today: improve downtown, generate more retail traffic, assist organizations with new projects, develop new programs, recruit new businesses and work in partnership with the city, according to BID Vice President Mary Davis.

“At that time, the primary objective of the BID was the completion of a Streetscape project,” said Davis, which would include “sidewalk replacement, decorative inlay, street trees, pedestrian level lighting, underground wiring and street furniture to revitalize our downtown.”

Once funding for the estimated $920,000 undertaking was in place, the Streetscape project began to take shape, with renovations to the downtown district commencing in 2000. A few years later, said Davis, the BID’s vision for downtown had become a reality.

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