What is the Micro District Program?
The City of San Diego recognizes that not all neighborhood business districts may qualify to become a BID, because they lack a “critical mass” of business tax certificate (business license) holders. The smallest BID in the current system has at least 300 assessed members. A smaller number of businesses limit the district’s ability to generate the revenue necessary to establish and maintain a non-profit corporation.
The City therefore developed a demonstration approach to assist smaller neighborhood business districts in addressing local concerns. These “Micro Districts,” often informal business groups with between 100 and 250 members, had previously been served by City staff through a variety of technical assistance measures, and City Council policy now assigns responsibility for this assistance to the BID Council.
Steps to becoming a Micro District
In general, groups of interested business owners begin by establishing a formation committee, comprising business license holders, commercial property owners, local residents and representatives of other community based organizations. This committee or group, initially often on an ad-hoc basis or as a subcommittee of an existing community based organization, identifies district boundaries and surveys the businesses within these boundaries. Based on the survey results, the committee then formulates a preliminary work plan. Ultimately, the group pursues full legal status as a non-profit organization.
Benefits of being a Micro District
The benefits of forming a Micro District are similar to the benefits enjoyed by a BID:
- Networking opportunities for member businesses
- Unified voice at City Hall
- Organized approach to commercial revitalization and marketing
- Access to Special Events Equipment at no charge
- Access to technical assistance
- Access to financial support
Each year, the BID Council makes available small one-year grants to assist Micro Districts. Grant applicants may apply for one of two types of grants. Capacity Building Grants are available for established organizations up to $8,500 initially and will be administered on a reimbursement basis.
Grant applicants have to meet the following eligibility criteria:
- The applicant can identify recognized district boundaries or a common industry
- A list of small business tax certificate holders served by the applicant has been prepared
- The applicant can demonstrate a measurable effort to solicit matching funds
- The applicant is seeking ‘seed’ funding for new programs involving the revitalization of commercial areas, capacity building, and business retention
- The applicant maintains a bank account for the organization and can show one-quarter of the full grant amount in the account
All grants are awarded on a reimbursement basis. In other words, grantees first incur an expense and then request reimbursement from the BID Council. In general, grant monies can be used for business improvement activities in the identified Micro District.