Welcome to the Amherst Business Improvement District!

The BID invests its resources to improve downtown Amherst’s vibrancy, sustainability, and economic health.

The Amherst Business Improvement District (BID) is a nonprofit economic development organization comprised of local property owners dedicated to providing programs and services that serve the town’s residents and businesses. The BID’s work is guided by its Improvement Plan, which was approved by the Amherst Select Board on October 24th, 2011.

The BID’s mission is to improve the Amherst downtown through events, beautification, marketing, and special projects. A new entity in the Amherst business community, the BID follows a model with a history of successful placemaking throughout the past fifty years across America. Through partnering with the Town, the University, and the two Colleges, the BID aims to make downtown an even better place to visit, to do business, and to live. The BID provides the following services:

Maintenance & Beautification2014 Flowers

The BID creates enhanced levels of seasonal and targeted maintenance to maintain a high level of cleanliness in the BID. We add landscaping and decorative lighting to tie the district together as a destination. Downtown is a place to gather, connect, socialize and enjoy! Our job is to make it fun to do so.

Marketing & Events

We promote the unique “Amherst Brand” to a broad audience of businesses, residents and visitors. Through special events, common advertising and public relations, tours and expanded One Card programs the BID works to promote the businesses, dining, and cultural attractions in downtown Amherst

Business Development

The BID is partnering with the Town to create a streamlined permitting process, encourage multi-use sidewalks, and music venues. We also do market analysis to identify customer needs, new markets and business opportunities, and incentivize businesses to locate in downtown Amherst.

Transportation & Parking

The BID works in collaboration with the Town to implement a comprehensive approach to manage parking and provide transportation in downtown Amherst that is convenient, affordable and fun.

Capital Improvements

In partnership with the Town of Amherst, the BID has a seat at the table to represent the needs of BID members as downtown infrastructure takes shape, to ensure that the projects will enhance the physical and economic development of the Downtown, and the convenience and comfort of those who use it. The BID communicates with its members regarding projects that will impact the Downtown. The BID works with the town to identify additional funding sources to address the infrastructure needs of Downtown Amherst.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a BID? A Business Improvement District, or BID, is a designated area in which property owners choose to initiate, manage and finance services to supplement the baseline of town services for the benefit of district employees, students, residents and visitors.

Are there other BIDs in Massachusetts? Since Massachusetts started allowing BIDs in 1994, they have been created in Springfield, Hyannis, Northampton, Taunton, Downtown Boston, and Amherst.

How is the BID different from the Amherst Area Chamber of Commerce? The BID is a legal mechanism for property owners to collectively purchase supplemental programs and services to enhance the BID target area. Once established, participation in the BID is mandatory thereby establishing a reliable revenue stream to execute a program of supplemental services approved by property owners in the BID. A BID focuses programs and supplemental services in a specific geographic area. The Chamber provides membership services that are geographically dispersed.

So, do you work in Town Hall? While the BID was officially formed by the Select Board vote in the Fall of 2011, and we work closely with town staff, the BID is distinct from the Town. Our offices are above Hastings, at 49 South Pleasant Street.

What’s your relationship like with the University? The University is fully on board with the BID, because they recognize that a healthy and vibrant Downtown is critical to their mission. Both UMass and Amherst College, in fact, are represented on the BID’s board and contribute both financially and in-kind to the BID’s operations.

Board of Directors


  • Barry Roberts (President)
  • Jerry Jolly (Vice President)
  • Sharon Povinelli (Treasurer)
  • Tony Maroulis (Secretary)
  • Jim Brassord
  • Andy Jones
  • Cinda Jones
  • John Kuhn
  • Sam Lussier
  • David Mazor
  • John Musante
  • Cathie Walz


BID Staff


Sarah laCour, Executive DirectorSarah laCour
Executive Director

Sarah is a professional landscape planner with over 20 years of experience and project management in regional planning, village revitalization and conservation development. She holds a Masters in Landscape Architecture from the University of Massachusetts/Amherst and a BA from Mount Holyoke College. Sarah lives in Amherst with her husband and two teenage children.