Understanding Key Players in Public/Private Partnerships
Public/private partnerships develop much more smoothly if all parties are committed to working with each other. A solid partnership starts with an understanding of the background, goals, motives, and needs of each partner. Without this, you can’t build trust and there’s a good chance the deal will fall-through in planning stages.
The Public Partner
As the public partner, city government is responsible for assessing the project’s public purpose, incentivizing the project, and getting needed approval. The government typically acquires land, prepares the project site, builds infrastructure, and supplies public facilities needed for the new project. It’s the public partner’s job gets the project approved on a state and federal level as well as locally with zoning commissions, city officials, etc.
Government also brings incentives to the bargaining table. They can write down costs, expedite permit processing, waive fees, and offer tax abatement. In a partnership, the government needs to recognize the need for flexibility and compromise. Government should also understand that their private partner needs a positive bottom line and work to help them achieve that goal.
The Private Partner
As the private partner, for-profit interests are responsible for project design, construction and operation, and a large part of the marketing. The private partner also provides part of the funding and is in charge of development. They’re expected to be the experts in developing the site and turning it to a profit.
Private partners should understand that government often moves slowly and is not always profit driven. Since the government deals with broader constituencies and operates with long-term goals, it’s helpful if private partners are able to assist with marketing the project to the community and encourage local support.
Nonprofits in the local area often play a key role in public/private partnerships. Neighborhood organizations, churches, foundations, and community development corporations have access to funding sources that are unavailable to the public and private sector interests. If they’re interested in community development projects, they often contribute to the financial package.
For the project to succeed all stakeholders, including private citizens, must feel that their concerns are heard and that they’re able to influence the project. Keeping in touch with stakeholders lets both public and private partners know what the community is looking for in a development project and alerts the partners to any objections the project is raising. Though not all objections can be addressed, maintaining transparency and accepting input creates an atmosphere of trust and acceptance for the project.
A Consultant’s Role
Trying to juggle so many different interests can be overwhelming without professional help to facilitate the negotiations. At Retail Attractions, we have extensive experience working with both public and private interests to negotiate the best possible partnerships for all parties involved. We’ll help you develop a working relationship with your partners and draw-up a mutually-advantageous partnership agreement. Contact us today for more information.