Step 3: Forge a Healthy Private/Public Partnership
The third step discussed by Christopher Leinberger in “Turning Around Downtown: Twelve Steps to Revitalization” is “Forge a Healthy Private/Public Partnership.”
Just like with any revitalization project in any other town, we need the Private and Public sector to work together towards the common goal: a successful vibrant downtown. A healthy relationship between the two will make for an easier transition as development gets underway.
Step Three Recap
In general, downtown revitalization is lead by the private sector and supported by the public one. The public sector is generally lead by a Mayor, with the support of the council or other city leaders. This group may be involved in helping with strategy, but the development will ultimately need to be led by the private entities; those who have the money, time and resources invested into the revitalizations outcome. Their will, motivation, and execution of the project will determine its success. “A healthy sustained partnership is crucial to getting the revitalization process off the ground and building the critical mass needed to spur a cycle of sustainable development.” (Christopher Leinberger, 2005, p. 8).
The article discusses the art of keeping the revitalization from becoming immersed in the political arena. While you will want the support and backing from the public sector, political control and agendas will need to be kept at bay and not brought into the mix. Often, we find downtowns and their growth as a hot button topic for campaigns and elections. It should be noted that contractors, developers, and investors involved in the private sector should step away and not play into any political conflicts.
The need of every downtown is different, and there are many opportunities for the public sector to support the development that will not create political issues. They can take on major tasks for the success that include but are not limited to applying for grants, providing incentives for development (tax, etc.), public transportation, zoning and so forth to create a downtown space that is not only vibrant but livable.
Applying this to Albion
Albion has the unique advantages of having Albion Reinvestment Corporation (ARC) as one of the leaders in the private sector, in addition to many other private sector investors, like Albion College, ACE Investment Properties, New Albion Impact Group, Albion Malleable Brewing Company, and Sterling Books and Brew, which set the stage for what ARC has planned for the next 3-5 years.
ARC’s mission is to combat the further deterioration of downtown properties and surrounding areas. It shows its dedication to promoting economic growth in the business district as well as creating livable space that will revitalize downtown into an area that is attractive to businesses, employment, entertainment opportunities. It is lead with a strong team that puts Albion’s success as a community at the forefront and undertakes all effective means to bring in development. While we have had our differences along the way, it is our belief that everyone wants something good to happen in Albion.
ARC is determined to see a positive outcome and will unite all those interested in the redevelopment of our downtown. All of this is done in cooperation with the City of Albion, Albion Economic Development Corporation (AEDC), Greater Albion Area Chamber of Commerce, the Downtown Development Authority (DDA), the Albion Community Foundation (ACF), and community groups. Having a healthy partnership amongst all the leaders in our community is an absolutely critical tool to achieve the goal of having our downtown once again become a vivacious destination and not just blighted properties.
Our next post in the series will focus on ‘Step 4, Make the Right Thing Easy,” stay tuned!