A reader shares a genius business idea in action

November 17, 2014 by Joshua
in Art, Creativity, Entrepreneurship, Leadership

A reader responded to “Another genius business idea: Communities refurbishing their subway platforms” to describe the idea already in action in San Francisco:

Hello Joshua,

I want to share with you the concept of property and business improvement districts and how one in San Francisco beautified the plaza around the Castro Street subway station. I’m sharing this as a real-world example you might find interesting.

The gist is that a group of commercial properties (or even residential ones) vote to form a district, levy an assessment on themselves, and form a board of directors to manage it. The district concept is interesting because it’s not a one-off project, but a governing body with a yearly budget that manages and implements any number of projects and services within its boundaries, e.g., new streetlamps, street cleaning, and beautification efforts.

From an entrepreneurial perspective, districts require minimal startup capital as they’re largely based on forming and nurturing political and business relationships. Leadership skills are needed to bring together a diverse neighborhood or group of businesses, have them levy an assessment fee on themselves, and responsibly manage the money for years to come.

I’m happy to answer any questions you might have about districts. Also, I’m floored that you rigorously stick to your “post once a day” SIDCHA as I really enjoy reading your blog.

So the project is easier than I thought! Now that someone has done it, doing it a second time tends to be easier than a second time.

It looks like doing the project helps build community. Then the ongoing beautified plaza continues to give to the community.

He also added “Here’s a one-page reference guide with some background on the California legislation that enabled business improvement districts, if you’re interested.” when I asked for his permission to post. He also noted “here’s a short Wikimapia article (with pics) about Harvey Milk Plaza” when I pointed out the picture on the link above didn’t work.

If anyone wants to do it in New York City, please let me know. I’d love to help.

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