Assay Office Chairman urges Jewellery Quarter to get behind BID

Kay Alexander is urging businesses to ensure the Jewellery Quarter remains the jewel in the city’s crown by voting ‘yes’ for a Business Improvement District (BID) in the area.

The Jewellery Quarter BID, which is being led by the Jewellery Quarter Development Trust (JQDT) in partnership with Birmingham City Council, aims to attract investment, increase visitor numbers and encourage a more vibrant economy, while making the area a better place in which to work, invest and live.

Over 500 local businesses are being asked to vote to support the initiative, which will see companies with premises with a rateable value of £10,000 and above pay an annual levy of 2% to fund additional investment for the benefit of the whole area. The voting ballot, which commenced this week (17th April), will run for five weeks until 24th May 2012.

Kay Alexander was appointed Chairman of the Assay Office in Newhall Street in 2006. She is the first woman to hold this position, which is something she is extremely proud of.

“In the past there hasn’t been a strong enough partnership between the Assay Office and the Jewellery Quarter but, as Chairman, I realised that it was vital to be involved with the area. As the Jewellery Quarter is famed for its manufacturing and jewellery trade and the Assay Office gives the final stamp of approval to what it produces, it is important to have synergy between us and local businesses.

“I’ve been very fortunate to visit businesses in the Jewellery Quarter that have fascinating stories to tell. There is such pride in the skill and craftsmanship that produce beautiful and iconic pieces sold around the world. The Quarter has the potential to be a top tourist attraction for Birmingham and the West Midlands. There is so much history and heritage to discover but people just don’t know about it.

“I think the improvements outlined in the BID Prospectus will benefit the area massively and make it a cleaner, safer and more attractive environment. Allocating some of the levy money for marketing of the area is particularly important as it will ensure more people get to hear about all the wonderful things you can do and visit in the area.

“I would like to see improvements such as the ‘In Bloom initiative’ taken one step further. We could enter the Quarter for ‘Britain in Bloom’ and encourage the community to work together to really put the Jewellery Quarter on the map!”

Kay, who came to the city to study English at the University of Birmingham, added: “The concept of a BID is fantastic – its inclusive nature allows businesses to vote and then decide how the money will be spent. A successful BID outcome provides huge potential for the Jewellery Quarter. I’m really excited for the area and hope that businesses vote ‘yes’.”

The board of the JQDT decided in early-summer 2011 to support the BID proposal and develop the initiative in partnership with Birmingham City Council. Being a Community Interest Company, the JQDT is made up of key community and stakeholder organisations from within the Jewellery Quarter, including the Jewellery Quarter Association, the Jewellery Quarter Marketing Initiative, the Jewellery Quarter Trade Alliance and the Jewellery Quarter Neighbourhood Forum.

The Trust Board agreed that a levy of 2% should be set on all properties with a rateable value of £10,000 and above and that the Jewellery Quarter BID area would be defined as the area bounded by the Jewellery Quarter side of Great Charles Street, Livery Street, Great Hampton Street, Key Hill Drive, Icknield Street, Sandpits/The Parade and Summer Row.

The BID would help to improve the Jewellery Quarter in many ways, including providing a welcoming environment for visitors, clean and safer streets, improving marketing to increase footfall and inward investment, and improving connectivity to the city centre.

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