Helping Small Business to the Next Level

Public Meetings: Making a Case and Achieving Your Objectives with Elected Officials:

By kevin • November 10, 2012 • Filed in: Uncategorized

There are few economic development projects that will not involve working with elected officials in a public forum regarding resolutions, zoning, cooperative ventures and project financing.  We have been blessed with favorable relationships with elected officials while obtaining the necessary approval to move a project forward.

Some of the things we have learned along the way are:

  1. Approach with a spirit of working together:  it rarely helps to be adversarial when working with a public body.  These people have dedicated their time with little or no compensation because they believe in serving the public.  We want to respect this and so we treat them with the respect due the position.
  2. Know the dynamics of the group:  make some contacts with the elected officials prior to the meeting and let them know what you are working toward.  Lay out the situation and ask their opinion or explain your anticipated approach and ask for their comments.  The old adage of:  “ try not to ask a question especially in public unless you know the answer” definitely applies here.   Ask directly or otherwise find out about how the group works together, the hot buttons of some of the members or other circumstances that could affect your project.
  3. Be Transparent:  layout what you are planning including the risks, rewards, and what is in it for the public body.  Let them know if your project will increase their tax base and will provide additional funds for their programs and that you are ready to work with them to make it worth their while.
  4. Present something tangible:  it is easier if you have something they can use to get familiar with the situation.  We have used multi-media presentations along with individual handouts that summarize our situation and action needed.
  5. Know your objective:  what if everything goes well and it seems all are in agreement to move forward, what then?  We have found that if we show up with draft motions or resolutions that can be handed out, modified if necessary then the board feels comfortable moving forward.  You can ask for a motion and leave with the approval that you need.

We have moved projects forward with public utilities, tribal councils, village and county boards, schools and others.  Feel free to let us know of your upcoming opportunities, we would love to help.

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