Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space

"A community’s physical form, rather than its land uses, is its most intrinsic and enduring characteristic." [Katz, EPA] This blog focuses on place and placemaking and all that makes it work--historic preservation, urban design, transportation, asset-based community development, arts & cultural development, commercial district revitalization, tourism & destination development, and quality of life advocacy--along with doses of civic engagement and good governance watchdogging.

Wednesday, September 07, 2016

Public entities ought to be more careful of whom they do business with

Apparently the business at Trump Hotels is down at least 30% since the start of Donald Trump's campaign for president ("Is Donald Trump’s campaign hurting his hotel chain?," Boston Globe).

1.  Government agencies need to do way better risk management when it comes to contracts with charlatans.  I thought about Trump's negative reputation when he won the bid to convert DC's Old Post Office building to a hotel ("GSA and Trump Organization Reach Deal on Old Post Office Lease," press release).  It would have been reasonable to reject his bid, given his track record in real estate (bankruptcies, stiffing contractors, etc.) let alone his other issues with hucksterism and other ripoffs, not to mention his litigiousness ("Exclusive: Trump's 3,500 lawsuits unprecedented for a presidential candidate," USA Today).

But the GSA went ahead and signed a deal with him, and now Pennsylvania Avenue NW and Washington DC's central business district has to deal with the consequences.

The same is true of "public" golf courses.  Do you really want Trump running your city or county's golf course ("Golf Course Deal With Donald Trump Leaves New York City in the Rough," New York Times; "Trump claims his golf courses are worth tens of millions. Until the tax bill comes," Washington Post).

2.  and should think twice about recruiting businesses with bad reputations and service.  And for Walmart too.  DC's elected officials were very much welcoming of a company with terrible customer service ("Walmart rankings the lowest for customer service," St. Louis Post-Dispatch and "White privilege: Study says Walmarts are nicer in the burbs"), labor relations, and crime-ridden facilities ("Tampa Bay Walmarts get thousands of police calls," Tampa Bay Times," note that Businessweek recently published a similar story).

Is that the kind of company you want to welcome with open arms to your city?

3. Conclusion: government officials and other stakeholders need to take their community brand management responsibilities seriously.  In a couple commercial district revitalization framework plans that I produced I wrote this:
... elected officials need to take their responsibilities as stewards and managers of a community's image very seriously:

Just as the study team believes that “we are all destination managers now,” elected and appointed officials in particular and in association with other community stakeholders serve as a community’s “brand managers”—whether or not they choose to think of their roles in this manner.

That means that decision-making on land use and zoning, business issues, infrastructure development (roads, sewers, water, utilities, transit), technology (broadband Internet, etc.) and quality of place factors (arts, culture, historic preservation and heritage, education, public schools and libraries, urban design, etc.) must be consistent and focused on making the right decisions, the decisions that collectively achieve and support the realization of the community’s desired vision and positioning.
Something else I read termed this as making "brand deposits" or "brand withdrawals," how the decisions and actions concerning a brand either make positive contributions and build the brand or the actions are negative and diminish the value of the brand, its reputation, aspirational qualities, etc.

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