The Pandemic’s effect on Office & Retail is addressed in Keeping the Lights on Downtown in America’s Small Cities
HALTOM CITY, TX, November 22, 2022 /24-7PressRelease/ — In their new book, Keeping the Lights on Downtown in American’s Small Cities, authors Smith and Sturgeon write “The COVID pandemic threw every segment of society into disarray and small businesses in particular. As of this writing, the repercussions are still reverberating. As wave after wave of the pandemic has swept over the economy, only the smartest, most progressive cities and councils will avoid being swamped in the wake created by COVID.”
Even before the pandemic, the introduction of convenient on-line shopping and the acceptance of telecommuting for certain types of work were changing the landscape. COVID not only accelerated those trends, but it affected commercial enterprises that might not have seemed vulnerable. “What remains to be seen,” according to the authors, “is whether cities will adapt to the needs of businesses who feel the ground moving beneath their feet. Cities that think they can backfill all the empty buildings with retail are sadly in denial.”
According to Smith and Sturgeon, “Forward-thinking leaders need to realize that it’s no time to be closing businesses or making it harder for new ones to open.” Rather, city leaders should engage in public discussions to address the impact of on-line commerce, the status of commercial vacancies, the challenges involved in backfilling or repurposing vacant spaces and more. A proactive plan to address these and other trends affecting America’s inner-cities is essential, and the time to begin is now.
In Keeping the Lights on Downtown, the authors essentially call on all elected officials to work with business owners in order to find ways to improve their cities and/or declining inner-city areas and corridors. They advocate for getting stakeholders focused on attracting new businesses, pushing city representatives to adopt a “can-do” approach to all aspects of their work, and reviewing and updating planning, zoning, and use tables. They offer several broader issues to consider and suggest reviewing the results of recent efforts by other cities as outlined in the book. The importance of stakeholder engagement is stressed repeatedly, as is the importance of private capital in the revitalization of declining areas.
They discuss how cities that win will have figured out that this is a competition. There are only a finite number of new businesses that will open, how many will they snag? Like business, they need to offer MORE incentives than their sister cities. Most business owners aren’t interested in some reduction in fees; they want it to be easy and fast to open, without a lot of rules and public hearings.
The bottom line according to the authors? “These actions will create more jobs close to home and shore up the business tax base so residential taxpayers will not be burdened with future tax increase. That is how together we can ensure a brighter future for all.”
The book is available on Amazon, where it has garnered many five-star reviews. If you live in Haltom City, Small Business Advocate Ron Sturgeon will give you a free copy. Pick up your copy at his office in Haltom City at 5940 Eden Drive. Ask for Lindsey.
About Ron Sturgeon
Co-author Ron Sturgeon is a lifelong entrepreneur who became deeply troubled seeing the continued decline in certain inner-city areas of his hometown of Haltom City, Texas. In 2020, he founded the Haltom United Business Alliance (HUBA), a grassroots organization that works to represent existing business owners and advocates for much-needed change. According to Ron, Keeping the Lights On was written for his hometown and for other cities across the country in order to “help residents, business owners, city planners and managers, and civic leaders see the problems and the opportunities in a new light.”
About Haltom United Business Alliance
Haltom United Business Alliance (HUBA) is a group of business owners dedicated to representing existing business interests in Haltom City and promoting the growth of diverse businesses as well. Innovative strategies are needed to create a strong tax base and enhance quality of life for residents, city employees, and business owners. All Haltom City business owners are eligible to join HUBA. For more information, contact Joe Palmer at (682) 310-0591 or by email at HUBAgrp@gmail.com or visit the group’s Facebook page at Haltom United Business Alliance.
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