By Kevin Ward, manager, Newport Now BID

Wow! 2017 was quite a year for the Newport Now BID – and we have little time to reflect on the year just gone before we begin work on another full year of events and initiatives.

Last year the BID began to move away from organising and delivering events and towards sponsoring events which benefit the city centre.

The BID’s board – made up of people who run city centre businesses – believe event sponsorship is a more cost-effective way of using BID members’ money while ensuring the Newport Now brand benefits from wider exposure.

So while 2017 saw us organise and deliver events like the urban beach in John Frost Square and the Christmas lights switch-on, it also saw us sponsor the annual Newport Food and Drink Festival and the Big Splash arts festival.

The BID also helped to fund two visits to the city centre of the Pop-Up Business School.

We also offered a shopfront improvement grant to BID members, helped save them money on their telecoms, energy and merchant fees costs, and launched the Newport Now Gift Card – a card which can only be spent in the city centre at more than 70 participating businesses.

The new year will be even busier for the BID. We are sponsoring a big screen at the Admiral City of Newport Half Marathon, and we will be launching a diverted giving scheme in partnership with the homeless charity The Wallich. This is aimed at providing a safe and secure way of donating to those in genuine need rather than giving money directly to street beggars.

And there is much, much more to come from the BID over the next 12 months as businesses continue to play their part in improving our city centre.