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Archive for June, 2009

Building and maintaining public/private/partnerships in economic development

Written by
Rickey Hayes
Retail Attractions, LLC

One of the key components in economic development for small cities is the development of public/private partnerships.  The growth of any locality depends on the vision of those in leadership. It takes vision and courage to take the lead in regards to growth and development issues. For any kind of sustained growth to occur, an environment must be created that fosters and encourages growth. City governments must take the lead in crafting policy and creating an overall attitude among staff at all levels that economic development is key to survival and growth. For any kind of retail development or job creation in a city, the central governmental entity in that location has to have the lead. Chambers of Commerce, industrial development authorities, and other quasi-governmental bodies cannot “pull the trigger” on projects. This decision making process and the ability to get things done in a consistent manner is an integral part of economic growth and development. A growing number of municipalities have discovered that being in the driver’s seat in economic development issues brings multiple benefits to the overall economic health of the city. Educating the local business community, staff and elected officials has to be done on a grassroots level. The development of marketing material is crucial to “brand” the city and communicate the city’s desire and ability to grow.

This is especially true in areas where there has been a marked decline in manufacturing or industrial development. Cities must be at work to generate and stimulate momentum in the local economy. In recent years, city governments have realized that retail development is one sure way to stimulate the local economy. Even in smaller communities, incentives can be used to attract national retailers. City governments are realizing that the same incentive strategies that are used to attract manufacturing and industrial uses can be utilized to create an environment for retail investment. Retailers are attracted to anything that can increase their bottom line. City government can make retail investment opportunities attractive by assembling land, providing needed public infrastructure and by making the overall development process as pain free as possible. This arrangement also allows the city to control or at least strongly influence the style and quality of the projects. A well designed and executed project can enhance the value of a community for years to come.

Rickey Hayes is the principal of Retail Attractions, LLC, a firm dedicated to helping cities and developers successfully find retail sites, close deals and improve the quality of life for our client cities.