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Imagining Urban Futures Programme working paper

This working paper is part of the Imagining Urban Futures Programme working paper series

Policies in motion and in place: the case of Business Improvement Districts

Kevin Ward


This paper uses the internationalization of Business Improvement Districts to address the volume’s examination of ‘the global circuits of knowledge, the institutions, and the individual actors involved in making contemporary cities into governable spaces’. It is in three sections. The first provides a short argument for how best to understand theoretically the way cities are produced through the circuits, networks and webs that connect unevenly and in a geographical differentiated manner a growing number of cities together. This is not about supplanting more traditional and still valuable territorial analyses of ‘urban’ politics. It highlights the types of agents of transference involved in the moving and embedding of urban development programs in general, focusing on its most visible channels. The second section turns to setting the context for Business Improvement Districts, before the paper moves onto outlining the program’s relational and territorial geographies. It presents an analysis that emphasizes both the ways in which the program has been rendered mobile and the place-specific contextual factors that shape how the program has been territorially embedded in different places.

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