BID launches campaign to attract more businesses to town

A new campaign has been launched by the Royal Tunbridge Wells Together Business Improvement District (BID) for central Tunbridge Wells to promote the town as a business destination. The campaign seeks to bring “long-term financial benefits” to the town beyond those currently experienced by BID members.

The BID is a defined area of the town centre in which businesses contribute an annual levy based on the rateable value of their premises. RTW Together in turn manages these funds, to carry out “improvement activities, marketing and events” to improve trading conditions within the town centre.

BID was formed in 2019 after a “Yes” vote among member businesses and stands to continue until 2024. A new ballot of businesses is expected to take place in February 2024, and the future of BID will inevitably lie in its effectiveness in fulfilling its mandate.

Of the 650 members in the central business district comprising BID, more than 200 of these businesses are professional services, including legal, financial, creative and insurance sectors. This cohort contributes more than £150,000 in levies each year.

However, many of BID’s tangible activities have to date been focused on boosting footfall in the town centre, thus supporting ‘street-facing’ businesses, such as retailers and hospitality outlets. The new campaign seeks to act with the interests of the wider business community in mind.

Over the past five years, 5,000 new businesses have been established in the town and surrounding areas, and an impressive list of corporates now choose to call Tunbridge Wells home.

In response to the needs of these clients, a BID spokesperson said that the new campaign will focus on telling the success story of Tunbridge Wells businesses to the national, trade and regional business outlets, while highlighting the positive attributes of the town. The hope is that this campaign will in turn attract new business, investors, developers and talent to the town.

BID Director Alex Green said: “Royal Tunbridge Wells is a thriving town full of businesses at all stages of growth; a hotbed of creative, financial, property and legal talent; a curated array of workspace at accessible prices, and probably one of the most well-balanced places to work, with over 100 open green spaces within walking distance of the town centre.

“A great example of this is Cripps – a top-100 law firm based in the town,” Mr Green says.

“They have a strong cohort who live and have chosen to work here. This has been both accelerated and facilitated by their employer recognising the opportunity and remodelling a working lifestyle that suits all stakeholders.”

The new campaign plans to “leverage these successes and attributes”, which unashamedly present Tunbridge Wells as “the place to work, invest and do business”. It also seeks to shine a light on the myriad workspaces available within the town for flexible workers, while impressing on professionals that a London commute is not the only option for doing business.

In response to the new campaign, Alex McEwan, Operations Director at property developers Dandara, said: “Our relationship with Tunbridge Wells is personal. We’ve invested over £10million in the town… It remains our focal point for the South East business.

“We firmly believe that businesses should come to Tunbridge Wells: it’s an aspirational place to live and there is a lot of wealth, talent and intellect here.

“Over the years we personally have seen people commute to Tunbridge Wells to take advantage of the green open spaces; the restaurants; The Pantiles. People want to spend time here. We think Tunbridge Wells is the perfect location for people-based advisory businesses, and it is an ideal opportunity for inward investment. Yes, we are self-invested but we bought into the story and we think others should too.”

Greg Clark, MP for Tunbridge Wells has also voiced his support for the campaign.

He said: “When thinking about what makes Tunbridge Wells the best place to live and work, it is difficult to pick just one reason: whether it be the excellent rail and transport links, the fact that Central London is only 45 minutes away; the significant number of fantastic schools; the range of independent and local businesses or having the countryside right on your doorstep. There is genuinely something for everyone in Tunbridge Wells.  I support any campaign which unashamedly presents Tunbridge Wells as the place to work, invest and do business.”

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