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Rigors of Private Planning Practice #4: Growing the Business

Wannaplan?

Bounty Hunter
Messages
3,214
Points
29
Your business does the usual: master plans, zoning ordinances, area studies, and site plan reviews. It's all good - gives you a paycheck and a small, but nice bonus each year. But if you could, what are the one or two areas your business lacks that you would like to see grow?
 

Cardinal

Cyburbian
Messages
10,080
Points
34
I am not a consultant, but I will add my perspective of what I would like to see from them. One thing that most lack is real economic development consulting, whether that may be business strategies or neighborhood improvement initiatives, either as stand-alone plans or incorporated into comprehensive planning. Consultants will try to provide that using their usual planning staff, and most fall far, far short in their efforts.
 

Gedunker

Moderating
Staff member
Moderator
Messages
11,487
Points
41
I agree with Cardinal.

I would add comprehensive environmental reviews. You can find phase I or phase II folks out there, but they're like archaeological chemists -- they'll only take you so far. Somebody needs to be able to pull the whole brownfield redevelopment stategies together, including the scientific stuff, IMO.
 

Chet

Cyburbian Emeritus
Messages
10,623
Points
34
I agree with cardinal too. I would beef up our economic development offerings, but also would enhance some of our urban design staff. We have excellent landscape architects and graphics staff, but we lack some of the emphasis on building layout and placement, facade renderings, and it can hindes the site context.
 

Lee Nellis

Cyburbian
Messages
1,369
Points
29
When I was consulting, I wanted to move into stream restoration and other water quality planning projects. It is just about impossible to do so without being in with an engineering firm, however, regardless of what you can bring to the table. One of the reasons the new job in Vermont is good is that I get to take the lead in some stream restoration projects and stormwater work.

What I find most consulting firms lack is expertise/experience in constructive, successful public involvement.
 

Wannaplan?

Bounty Hunter
Messages
3,214
Points
29
Cardinal said:
One thing that most lack is real economic development consulting, whether that may be business strategies or neighborhood improvement initiatives, either as stand-alone plans or incorporated into comprehensive planning.
But what about the flipside? I hear no one asking for economic development planning services in my area. If your company has the expetise to take on this type of project, but the city managers, township supervisors, or various councils and boards don't know they could benefit from such a plan, how do you sell those services and secure a contract?
 

Cardinal

Cyburbian
Messages
10,080
Points
34
Wanigas? said:
But what about the flipside? I hear no one asking for economic development planning services in my area. If your company has the expetise to take on this type of project, but the city managers, township supervisors, or various councils and boards don't know they could benefit from such a plan, how do you sell those services and secure a contract?
There is a bit of a selling job that needs to be done. The engineering firms are a good example, with the way they sold their services when all of the brownfield initiatives were begun about 8-10 years ago. The came to communities, identified the opportunities, and sold their investigation and remediation capabilities. Unfortunately, they did not match remediation with economic development. Had economic development consultants approached communities instead, they might have focused on the redevelopment potentials instead of the environmental clean-up. The resulting projects might have been far different.

(Where planners promoted redevelopment, the same problem is true. From a planning perspective, the redevelopment projects are good, but there are few examples that really integrate redevelopment of a site into a larger vision for neighborhood improvement or business district revitalization.)
 

nimbyhater

Member
Messages
1
Points
0
A true economic development consultant

I couldn't agree more that there are few true economic development consultants out there. Several years ago, while working in local govt, I received a proposal from a company called Camoin Associates that really seemed to differentiate itself as an economic development firm. I believe that they are out of either Saratoga or NYC and can be found online at www.camoinassociates.com

Cardinal said:
I am not a consultant, but I will add my perspective of what I would like to see from them. One thing that most lack is real economic development consulting, whether that may be business strategies or neighborhood improvement initiatives, either as stand-alone plans or incorporated into comprehensive planning. Consultants will try to provide that using their usual planning staff, and most fall far, far short in their efforts.
 

Wannaplan?

Bounty Hunter
Messages
3,214
Points
29
Here's another possible area to help grow your business. I don't know, maybe this is coming out of left-field, but have any private sector Cyburbanites ever had a client from a non-profit organization? If so, is the fee any different for them from your typical set of governmental clients? How did you reach out to them?

Since many of these non-profits are comunity-based organizations, I would assume they prefer to go with local consultants they know and have trusted. Perhaps the non-profit community isn't able to afford the private sector consultant fees. However, when I was a grad student, there was an umbrella organization for over a dozen Detroit-based non-profits called the Gateway Communities Development Collaborative. They pooled their money and hired a high-profile consulting firm in the southeast Detroit area to develop a land use plan for the southwest Detroit area.

I am sure it is rare, but have any of you scored a project with a non-profit?
 

Lee Nellis

Cyburbian
Messages
1,369
Points
29
When I was consulting I did projects for a United Way and for a couple of regional conservation organizations, including demographic analyses, training on land use implementation tools, citizen participation campaigns, and expert testimony. I did not make much money doing this, although I made a more or less normal rate on the citizen participation project and some of the training, but it was a refreshing change from working for local governments.
 
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