Column: How businesses followed the herd

BID manager Diane Jarvis with their Herd elephant Snookherd
BID manager Diane Jarvis with their Herd elephant Snookherd

I became manager of Sheffield BID, a group of local businesses dedicated to improving the city centre through collective investment, last October.

The Herd was the first project on my desk waiting for a decision.

Notwithstanding the fact that the trail is about supporting the Children’s Hospital Charity - such a fantastic and well-deserving cause - I needed to think about this from a business perspective.

I had to consider whether the businesses that pay the BID levy would benefit from the BID investing in this activity.

Sheffield BID has a vision – to make the city centre busier, but busier in a way that drives new visitors into Sheffield and into our local shops, restaurants and bars. BID stands for ‘business improvement district’ and it does what it says on the tin – it works to improve the trading environment for all our city centre businesses.

I had to make sure that the Herd of Sheffield would tie in with that aim.

We want to invest in activities that deliver higher footfall, vibrancy and economic growth to the city.

Having researched the Wild in Art partnership with other UK towns and cities, it became clear that these sculpture trails really do generate significant results.

I genuinely believe that the Herd of Sheffield presents an opportunity to deliver on a number of outcomes, such as enhancing the city centre’s image as a vibrant destination, boosting visitor numbers, encouraging visitors to stay longer, urging them to explore more of the city and driving an increase in spend to local businesses.

And of course fundraising for such a worthwhile cause.

It’s been great to see that many of the businesses involved in Sheffield BID as a whole have been so actively involved in the Herd.

The project has a real community spirit to it.

We sponsored Snookherd, an elephant inspired by snooker and signed by the top 16 players in the world.

With snooker being such a big part of Sheffield’s heritage, bringing thousands of visitors into the city every year, it was an obvious choice for us!

I followed the trail recently with my four-year-old one Saturday, and at no point did we come across an elephant that wasn’t already surrounded by a mass of people scanning the bar codes and taking selfies.

Jackophant, sponsored by Nottingham Business Society, was my son’s personal favourite.

The Herd is definitely proving to be quite a visitor attraction within the city.

And for that reason, Sheffield BID is extremely pleased to be the Herd’s supporting partner.