Business Improvement Districts – BIDs



A Facebook page has been created to facilitate the exchange of news and information of interest to BID managers, their Boards, and interested parties. Stay informed by liking “Wisconsin Business Improvement Districts – BIDs”. Like the Wisconsin BIDs Facebook page.

Wisconsin Act 184, signed into law in 1984, gives Wisconsin municipalities (i.e., cities, villages and towns) the power to establish one or more Business Improvement Districts within their community and an assessment methodology that allows business properties within that geographic area to contribute to programs aimed at promotion, management, maintenance and development of that district. BID assessments are restricted to commercial and industrial properties subject to real estate tax. Tax-exempt properties (i.e., religious, public utility, or government properties) or those used exclusively as residences cannot be included in the assessment district.

The University of Wisconsin-Extension (UWEX), through its statewide network of county-based UWEX educators, is a leader in helping Wisconsin communities examine and evaluate how Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) can support their economic development plans. Read more about UW-Extension’s BID education work. (PDF file, 151 kb, 1 page)

Local Government Center educational materials may be viewed and printed using Adobe Acrobat. You must have this program installed on your computer. A copy of this program is available free from Adobe.

Educational Support Materials

LGC Fact Sheet #9: Wisconsin Business Improvement Districts – BIDs – (PDF file, 188 kb, 4 pages)
Creating a BID – (PDF file, 32 kb, 1 page
Directory of BID Contacts  – (PDF file, 281 kb, 15 pages)
State Statutes Regulating BIDs: Section 66.1109 –
 (PDF file, 12 kb, 3 pages)

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What are the Legal Requirements for Minimum and Maximum BID Assessments? – (PDF file, 36 kb, 1 page)

Related Educational Programs

Since 2003, UW-Extension’s Local Government Center has helped coordinate and offer a series of annual programs aimed at educating Business Improvement District managers, their Board members and interested parties about BID operations and programming. View seminar dates.

Business Improvement Districts and Main Streets (teleconference, May 17, 2017). Chuck Law discusses the creation and administration of BIDS, as well as lessons learned during their 30-year history in Wisconsin. You can order a recorded version in audiostream or USB drive format using the Register/Purchase page.

Related Reading

A to Z of Business Improvement Districts via the Project for Public Spaces. This website provides an overview of what BIDs are and the various actions they can take. Focused on BIDs in New York, it includes links to a step-by-step guide to creating a BID and a comparison of the pros and cons of BIDs.

Becker, Carol. 2008. Government without Government: Alternatives to Market and Government Failure. Hamline University Doctorate Dissertation. (PDF file, 1.1 Mb, 172 pages)

Downtown Research and Development Center. 2013. Business Improvement Districts: Financing Downtown Growth. Available from the Downtown Research and Development Center’s webpage for $29.95. This publication offers a useful structure for starting a BID, with a particular emphasis on drawing in private sector leadership and face-to-face contact. The article focuses on the steps needed to take prior to BID approval, including determining if a BID is useful for the area, gaining neighborhood support, and planning and executing a vision and budget. While there are few Wisconsin-specific examples, the author offers clear examples and a strong distinction between the services, programming, and outcomes of large and small BIDs.

Kline, Aaron; Dunn, Catherine; Giezler, Katie; Jordet, Peter; and Noyce, Sidney. Self-Supported Municipal Improvement Districts: A Toolkit for Planning, Implementation, and Evaluation. Prepared for the Czech Village/New Bohemia Main Street District in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, this guide describes elements of successful BIDs, focusing mainly on BIDs in Iowa. This toolkit is meant for groups seeking to achieve economic development goals such as property owners and businesses. (PDF file, 4,882 kb, 193 pages)

Law, Charles. 1992. BIDs in Wisconsin: An Interim Report. In Action News – Newsletter of the Wisconsin Downtown Action Council. June/July. (PDF file, 976 kb, 4 pages)

Law, Charles. 2001. Business Improvement District (BID) Development in Wisconsin. In Let’s Talk Business: Ideas for Expanding Retail and Services in Your Community. Madison, WI: Center for Community & Economic Development, University of Wisconsin-Extension, Issue 55. March. (PDF file, 148 kb)

Law, Charles and Richmond, Beth. 2018. An Examination of Wisconsin BIDs. In The Municipality, League of Wisconsin Municipalities, Vol. 113, No. 7, 4 pages)

MacDonald, Heather.  Why Business Improvement Districts Work. This article provides an explanation of what BIDs are. It goes into more detail about the relationship of BIDs to government, and the typical types of opposition that BIDs can face. BIDs are often the necessary counterpoint to local government. MacDonald concludes that BIDs provide important amenities that governments would be unable to provide by themselves.

Mitchell, Jerry. 1999. Business Improvement Districts and Innovative Service Delivery. Arlington, VA: PricewaterhouseCoopers Endowment for the Business of Government, 32 p. (PDF, 152 kb)

Mitchell, Jerry. 2008. Business Improvement Districts and the Shape of American Cities. State University of New York Press.

Prusak, Sidney. 2017. Articulating the Power of the Main Street and Special Assessment District Collaboration. Madison, Wisconsin. 13 pp. (PDF, 363 kb)

Related Links

Below are several related Internet Resources that may be of interest. The University of Wisconsin-Extension assumes no responsibility for the quality or integrity of the sites listed. The viewpoints and opinions expressed do not necessarily represent those of UWEX.

Wisconsin BID Websites and Operating Plans

Appleton Downtown Inc.
Appleton 2017 BID Operating Plan (PDF, 547 kb, 37 pages)
Downtown Baraboo
Baraboo 2017 BID Operating Plan (PDF, 785 kb, 13 pages)
Downtown Beloit
Beloit 2017 Operating Plan
City of Berlin
Black River Falls Downtown Association
Chippewa Falls Main Street
Deerfield BID 2018 Operating Plan (PDF, 121 KB, 6 pages)
Definitely De Pere
DePere 2017 Operating Plan
Eagle River Main Street Program
Eagle River 2016 Operating Plan
Downtown Eau Claire, Inc.
Eau Claire West Grand BID Operating Plan (PDF, 2292 kb, 9 pages)
Downtown Fond du Lac Partnership
Fond du Lac 2018 BID Operating Plan (PDF, 111 kb, 6 pages)
Downtown Green Bay, Inc. (also links to Olde Main Street)
Downtown Green Bay 2018 BID Operating Plan (PDF, 992 kb, 19 pages)
Green Bay Olde Main Street 2018 Operating Plan (PDF, 928 kb, 16 pages)
On Broadway, Inc.
Green Bay Broadway BID 2016 Operating Plan
Military Avenue, Inc.
Green Bay Military Avenue 2018 Operating Plan (PDF, 1439 kb, 11 pages)
Hartford BID 2017 Operating Plan (PDF, 19 kb, 3 pages)
Kenosha Lakeshore BID 2018 Operating Plan (PDF, 270 kb, 2 pages)
Madison Central BID 2016 Operating Plan
Main Street Marshfield, Inc.
Marshfield 2017 BID Operating Plan
Main Street Menomonie, Inc.
Menomonie BID 2016 Operating Plan
Historic Village Centre Business Improvement District of Menomonee Falls
Menomonee Falls 2016 BID Operating Plan (PDF, 508 kb, 14 pages)
Historic Third Ward Association, Inc.
Milwaukee BID #2 – Historic Third Ward 2017 Operating Plan (PDF, 334 kb, 18 pages)
Milwaukee BID #3 – Broadway 2018 Operating Plan
Milwaukee BID #4 – Greater Mitchell Street 2016
Westown Association
Milwaukee BID #5 – Westown 2017 Operating Plan  (PDF, 2521 kb, 16 pages)
Historic King Drive Business Improvement District #8
Milwaukee BID #8 – Historic King Drive 2017 Operating Plan (PDF, 1350 kb, 22 pages)
Milwaukee BID #10 – Near West Side 2017 Operating Plan (PDF, 1350 kb, 22 pages)
Brady Street Business Improvement District #11
Milwaukee BID #11 – Brady Street 2018 Operating Plan (PDF, 164 kb, 12 pages)
Milwaukee BID #13 – Oakland Ave 2017 Operating Plan (PDF, 244 kb, 10 pages)
Milwaukee BID #15 – Riverwalk 2016 Operating Plan (PDF, 2145 kb, 29 pages)
Milwaukee BID #16 – Uptown Crossing 2018 BID Operating Plan (PDF, 207 kb, 17 pages)
Northwest Side Community Development Corporation
Milwaukee BID #19 – Villard Ave 2017 Operating Plan (PDF, 453 kb, 9 pages)
The East Side Business Improvement District #20
Milwaukee BID #20 – East Side 2016 Operating Plan (PDF, 195 kb, 25 pages)
Milwaukee BID #21 Downtown – 2016 Operating Plan
Riverworks Development Corp. (Riverworks BIDs #25 & #36)
Milwaukee BID #25 –  Riverworks 2018 Operating Plan (PDF, 4339 kb, 29 pages)
Menomonee Valley Partners, Inc.
Milwaukee BID #26 – Menomonee Valley 2018 Operating Plan (PDF, 1102 kb, 17 pages)
Milwaukee BID #28 – North Avenue Gateway 2016
Burleigh Street Community Development Corporation
Havenwoods Economic Development Corporation
Milwaukee BID #31 – Havenwoods 2017 Operating Plan (PDF, 552 kb, 12 pages)
North Avenue Fond du Lac Marketplace BID #32
Milwaukee BID #32 – North Avenue Fond du Lac 2017 Operating Plan (PDF, 1844 kb, 14 pages)
Milwaukee BID #35 – Kinnickinnic River 2017 Operating Plan (PDF, 536 kb, 14 pages)
Riverworks Development Corp. (Riverworks BIDs #25 & #36)
Milwaukee BID #36 – Riverworks II 2011 Operating Plan (PDF, 183 kb, 7 pages)
The Corridor, Inc.
Milwaukee BID #37 – 30th Street Industrial Corridor 2017 Operating Plan (PDF, 234 kb, 13 pages)
Gateway to Milwaukee
Milwaukee BID #38 – Cesar Chavez Drive 2016 Operating Plan
Milwaukee BID #39 – Marketplace 2017 Operating Plan (PDF, 313 kb, 8 pages)
Milwaukee BID #40 – Airport Gateway 2016 Operating Plan
Milwaukee BID #41 – Downer Avenue 2018 Operating Plan (PDF, 1104 kb, 13 pages)
Schlitz Park
Schlitz Park 2016 Operating Plan
Milwaukee BID #41 – Historic Highway 2018 Operating Plan
Milwaukee BID #43 – Historic Highway 2016 BID Operating Plan
Milwaukee BID #44 – Kinnickinnick Ave 2016 Proposed Operating Plan
Milwaukee BID #48 – Granville 2018 Operating Plan (PDF, 1455 kb, 29 pages)
Milwaukee BID #49 – Reed Street Yards 2018 Operating Plan (PDF, 1124 kb, 19 pages)
Milwaukee BID #50 – 13th & West Oklahoma Ave 2016 Operating Plan
Milwaukee BID #51 – Harbor District 51 2018 Operating Plan (PDF, 411 kb, 13 pages)
Monroe 2017 Operating Plan
Future Neenah
Neenah 2018 BID Operating Plan (PDF, 3223 kb, 54 pages)
Omro Business Improvement District
Omro BID Operating Plan 2018 (PDF, 491 kb, 8 pages)
Downtown Oshkosh
Downtown Oshkosh BID 2017 Operating Plan (PDF, 475 kb, 9 pages)
Main Street Portage
Port Washington Main Street
Racine Douglas Avenue 2017 BID Operating Plan (PDF, 379 kb, 15 pages)
Downtown Racine Corporation
Downtown Racine 2018 BID Operating Plan (PDF, 314 kb, 13 pages)
Racine County Economic Development Corporation
Uptown Racine BID 2017 Operating Plan (PDF, 203 kb, 31 pages)
Downtown Rhinelander, Inc.
Ripon Main Street, Inc.
River Falls Main Street
River Falls BID Operating Plan 2018 (PDF, 49 kb, 1 page)
Sheboygan Harbor Centre Business Improvement District
Sheboygan Harbor Centre 2018 Operating Plan (PDF, 136 kb, 5 pages)
Sheboygan Falls 2016 Operating Plan
Shorewood Business Improvement District
Shorewood 2016 BID Operating Plan
Spooner 2016
Downtown Sun Prairie 2016 Operating Plan
Superior BID 2016 Operating Plan
Tomahawk Main Street
Tomahawk BID 2018 Operating Plan (PDF, 494 kb, 5 pages)
Two Rivers Main Street, Inc.
Historic Downtown Waukesha and Riverwalk
City of Waupun
Wausau River District BID
Wausau BID 2018 Operating Plan  (PDF, 338 kb, 13 pages)
Village of Wauwatosa Business Improvement District
Wauwatosa BID 2016 Operating Plan
Downtown West Allis, Inc.
West Allis BID 2016 Operating Plan
Downtown West Bend Association
Whitefish Bay Business Improvement District
Downtown Wisconsin Dells BID