A BID or Business Improvement District is a defined area in which property owners pay an annual fee to fund services and improvements within that district’s boundaries. Such improvements can include district identity, marketing, beautification, increased security, and event production. While this may initially sound like a smart funding solution, there are many well-documented criticisms surrounding the BID model. Some potential issues include privatization of public spaces, commercialization of cultural areas, aggressive policing of homeless populations, and displacement of low income and historically BIPOC communities.

For several years now, a small group of local property owners has been working privately with San Diego developer, Marco Li Mandri, to establish a BID in downtown New Bedford. Li Mandri is the director of the for-profit consulting agency, New City America, whose website boasts over 90 established business improvement districts, mainly on the west coast. But while Li Mandri’s New Bedford BID proposal has been in the works for at least seven years, most of dNB’s stakeholders have only learned about it recently.


There has been no opportunity for the community to contribute feedback regarding the boundaries of the district, the proposed budget, the composition of the BID’s board of directors, or the services the BID will provide. Once approved by city council, a BID is permanent for at least five years and could impact downtown New Bedford for many more years to come. A long-term, well-funded program that affects the leadership, management, and growth of downtown New Bedford should be a transparent, community-driven process.

A BID should be tailored to and informed by the unique district it intends to serve. This cookie-cutter proposal has excluded the voices of downtown’s small business owners, residents, artists, and the majority of its stakeholders, while a handful of property owners purport to speak for the community.

This sets a concerning precedent for how this BID will be managed. Without the proper plan and forward-thinking leadership at the helm, New Bedford could be stripped of the culture, creativity, and character our downtown has become known for.


Share – Many of our neighbors still don’t know about this BID proposal! Help spread the word by sharing this post. Send to a friend, share on Facebook, or just tell someone you know.
Support – Sign the petition and reach out to New Bedford’s city council, letting them know you oppose the BID.
Show Up – The public hearing for New Bedford city council to approve the BID proposal is happening June 10th at 7pm. Speak out against the BID or just come to stand in opposition.