Failed revitalization ideas are explored in Keeping the Lights on Downtown in America’s Small Cities, 2nd Edition
HALTOM CITY, TX, August 15, 2023 /24-7PressRelease/ — The recently released second edition of Keeping the Lights on Downtown in America’s Small Cities includes seven new chapters that detail strategies and processes involved in the revitalization of inner city areas:
• Form-Based Codes: What They Are and Why Cities Should Consider Adopting Them
• Impediments to Small Business Starting & Growing and Keys to Returning Commerce and Prosperity
• Failed Revitalization Ideas
• A Form-Based Code Success Story: Mansfield, Texas
• Understanding Real Estate: A Key to Revitalization
• Choosing, Sizing, and Prioritizing Your Initiative: Strategic Thinking
• Ready to be the Evangelist and Change Your City? It can be a Lonely Assignment
In the “Failed Revitalization Ideas” chapter, Gregory Smith and Ron Sturgeon expound on a variety of revitalization strategies that have been tried in cities and towns across the country, stressing that “Mistakes are inevitable, but learning from mistakes, our own or those of others, is a matter of choice.”
According to the authors, the most common mistakes made by city leaders are procrastination and avoidance (kicking the can down the road in the hope that someone else will deal with it), the failure to accept changing dynamics (do we really think those old malls are going to be returned to their former glory?), and putting too much weight on limited tools (e.g. counting on publicly funded Tax Increments Reinvestment Zones to turn things around when encouraging private investment would be more practical and less costly). The unwillingness of city leaders to consider the ideas and suggestions of citizens, business leaders and independent organization like Strong Towns or American City & County is common as well.
Smith and Sturgeon also talk about what they call “The infrastructure trap.” Far too many city leaders believe that shiny new developments (new roads, a new City Hall or other public building) will create jobs and encourage growth. They might also think that building in the richer areas of the town will provide the resources needed for the declining areas. In a perfect world with unlimited funds, that may be true but in the real world where funds and resources are scarce, that is far less likely. So if a new City Hall is needed, it might be better to renovate and modernize a vacant building in a declining area and repair the existing streets as well. By doing so, the city would encourage revitalization in an area that needs the help and would likely be saving a ton of money too.
Book co-author Ron Sturgeon often refers to his hometown of Haltom City, Texas when discussing the topics at hand. In early 2021, he founded the Haltom United Business Alliance (HUBA), a grass-roots organization that represents small businesses and advocates for progress at the city level. HUBA feels strongly that the growth of small businesses must be prioritized in order to reverse the continuing decline in Haltom City and has submitted a number of ideas to the city council, as yet to no avail. He adds, cities work in dog years, as they “lawyer up” and avoid taking any risk, so can be decades behind where they could be. Also, it’s relatively easy, fast and inexpensive to make changes that have promise, like reducing or eliminating parking minimums, and just as easy to undo those changes if they aren’t working. Cities would rather give passive resistance as they try to completely understand every potential move, even though they can read the case studies of success for other cities.
Frustrated by the lack of response, Sturgeon went on to spearhead the Make Haltom City Thrive Again initiative in 2022. The initiative aims to bring attention to the issues in Haltom City and stress the urgent need for city council members who will approach the subject of possible remedies (to blight) with an open-mind and can-do attitude. As part of the campaign, Sturgeon will provide a free copy of Keeping the Lights On to any Haltom City resident or business owner who requests one. To get a free copy, send a quick e-mail with your name and address to Ron at [email protected].
About Ron Sturgeon
Ron Sturgeon, “Mr. Mission Possible,” combines 40+ years of entrepreneurship with a deep resume in consulting. When his dad died and Ron had no place to live, 17-year-old Ron began a career in entrepreneurship which led to his building a chain of salvage yards sold to Ford in 1999. After his repurchase of Greenleaf from Ford and subsequent resale to Schnitzer, Ron became a real estate investor. He has 1,500+ tenants and loves small businesses. As a consultant, Ron shares his expertise in strategic planning, capitalization, compensation, growing market share, providing field-proven, high-profit, best practices well ahead of the curve. He has recently published his tenth book, Keeping the Lights on Downtown in America’s Small Cities, and is leading a grassroots effort to bring prosperity back to the city where his business career began. He was recently a finalist in Ft. Worth Inc’s Entrepreneur of Excellence competition.
About Haltom City
Haltom City is a medium-sized city between Dallas and Fort Worth in Tarrant County, TX. The city is diverse and majority working class, with a growing population that is approximately 10% Asian-American and 45% Hispanic. Haltom City benefits from being only minutes from both DFW Airport and Downtown Fort Worth, with direct access to major highways including I-820 and SH-121. Small businesses that have historically provided products, services, and jobs to residents included a once thriving automotive industry. The city has seen a decline in small businesses, especially automotive businesses. The city is healthy financially, with median household income growing around 8% in the past year. Haltom City has an opportunity for continued growth through undeveloped land and many vacant buildings, especially in major corridors close to the city’s center. The city has good staff and a city manager who is interested in seeing more businesses come to Haltom City, but they can only do as directed by City Council.
About Haltom United Business Alliance
Haltom United Business Alliance (HUBA) wants to give members of Haltom City’s business community an advocate and to keep those businesses informed about issues that affect them. They want to make sure Haltom City is business friendly and nurtures small business growth, including automotive businesses in the industrial districts, and bring more restaurants including breweries and eventually a major grocery store to the city. New businesses and growth in existing businesses will create a stronger tax base which will allow the city to pay its first responders wages that are competitive with surrounding cities while improving Haltom City’s facilities and infrastructure. HUBA believes that the southern and central parts of the city need a revitalization plan, to prevent further degradation in those areas, and wants that to happen before the inner-city experiences increased crime and more blight. As retail and office uses are in decline, it’s more critical than ever to attract new businesses. They believe that such a plan requires a strong relationship and support of the business community. Anyone who owns a business in Haltom City is eligible to join HUBA. Dues are $20 annually or $50 for a lifetime membership, and membership is 100% confidential. To join, contact Joe Palmer at (682) 310-0591 or by email at [email protected]. Visit the group’s Facebook at Haltom United Business Alliance.
About Make Haltom City Thrive Again
The Make Haltom City Thrive Again website offers information and resources about its purpose and goals. For more on Sturgeon’s personal ideas and background, check out his book Keeping the Lights on Downtown in America’s Small Cities and watch the videos on his Facebook page. Ron is also the founder of the Haltom United Business Alliance (HUBA) which represents existing business interests in Haltom City and promotes growth of diverse businesses as well. HUBA is not a political action committee and does not endorse candidates. If/when Ron endorses candidates, he will do so on his own with the Make Haltom City Thrive Again organization.
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