Science Zone could become Business Improvement District

The animal and life sciences sector could get an economic boost

The animal and life sciences sectors in Midlothian, already known throughout the world as centres of excellence, could enjoy a further economic boost if they become part of a Business Improvement District, councillors heard on Tuesday.

Work on the BID proposal underway

Midlothian Council's cabinet today heard more about work on the proposal which could see the special area introduced in what’s known as the Midlothian Science Zone.

Businesses will work collectively on improvements

The concept, which has been imported from Canada and the US, involves businesses working together and investing collectively in improvements which benefit them and the wider economy.

A business levy would be introduced

Under the concept, if it goes ahead, the businesses involved in a cluster of campuses, including Easter Bush and Pentlands Science Park, have a say in the plans of the BID, which would be in force for around five years. At the end of the agreed timescale, a further renewal ballot would take place to decide whether the concept should continue for a further number of years.

The collective work would be funded by a compulsory Business Improvement District levy on businesses in the designated BID area.

A BID could attract skilled jobs

Councillor Jim Bryant, the cabinet member for economic development, said: “The Midlothian Science Zone boasts some of the most influential scientists across the world tackling major issues from animal genetics to health and welfare. A Business Improvement District here could have a significant impact locally and indeed nationally, helping secure more skilled jobs and support life-changing research. “

Government money will pay for a project co-ordinator

Councillors heard that £20,000 of Scottish Government funding will be used to pay for a project co-ordinator to set up a steering group, consult with businesses and test the market to establish if there’s an appetite for a BID.

22 Nov 2016