Keeping the Lights on Downtown in America’s Small Cities, 2nd Edition points out frequent obstacles and common-sense solutions for cities in decline
HALTOM CITY, TX, July 25, 2023 /24-7PressRelease/ — Following an initial run of 3,000 books, authors Gregory Smith and Ron Sturgeon have published an updated version of Keeping the Lights on Downtown in America’s Small Cities. The recently released second edition is 255 pages long and includes seven new chapters that identify common impediments and offer practical ideas for cities wanting to revitalize:
• Form-Based Codes: What They Are and Why Cities Should Consider Adopting Them (Written by Architect and Arlington TX City Councilwoman Rebecca Boxall)
• Impediments to Small Businesses Starting and Growing, and Keys to Returning Commerce and Prosperity
• Failed Revitalization Ideas (TIRZ and other mistakes).
• A Form-Based Code Success Story: Mansfield, Texas
• Understanding Real Estate: A Key to Revitalization
• Choosing, Sizing, and Prioritizing Your Initiative: Strategic Thinking
• Are You Ready to Be the Evangelist? It Can Be a Lonely Assignment.
In the chapter “Impediments to Small Business Starting & Growing and Keys to Returning Commerce and Prosperity,” the authors point out the onerous, and sometimes absurd, regulations that can be found in American cities today. Although most policies were well-intentioned, they were added one at a time and are now acting like barnacles that “build up a thick crust, and eventually create a lot of drag on the system.”
Co-author Ron Sturgeon, who started his first business in Haltom City over 50 years ago, often points to his beloved hometown as an example of what not to do. When building an event center a few years ago, Sturgeon wanted to allow renters the option of using upscale food trucks to cater their events. Although the request was eventually approved, the process was absurd because city council members stepped in to micromanage and created new rules, including the number of sinks required in any truck to be hired. This was despite the fact that the event center itself featured full- service, low-cost options including catering provided by food trucks, and that the county already licensed and inspected food trucks just like restaurants.
Since then, Sturgeon has seen a number of potential small businesses give up or choose to go elsewhere, including a snow-cone stand which was denied after going through planning, zoning, and two council public hearings, simply because no existing ordinance could be applied to the specific business. Through his involvement with the Haltom United Business Alliance (HUBA) — a group that represents existing business interests and works to promote growth — Sturgeon often hears from frustrated entrepreneurs. “As I am writing this chapter, twice this week I spoke with prospective business owners in Haltom City. One wanted to open a day care but was turned away because of parking requirements (the last of 6 required spots was 6” short of the standard). They went to another city close by where common sense prevailed. The second case was a salon, and because of change of use rules, they needed to complete the dreaded “site plan.” and have public hearings. They simply said no.” Sturgeon maintains that he doesn’t believe the citizens need to be protected from such businesses, so why make it hard for them to open?
Sturgeon strongly believes that the growth and success of small businesses is the key to revitalizing inner city areas, and has been advocating for change at the city level to help turn things around. In 2022, he launched Make Haltom City Thrive Again, a movement aimed at highlighting the issues and advocating for city council members who will work to revitalize Haltom City’s inner city areas, particularly the along the beleaguered south and central corridors. Since the movement added a billboard on Hwy 121, it has brought over 4,000 visitors to the site.
In furtherance of his goal, Sturgeon will send a free copy of his book to any Haltom City resident or business owner who would like one. To get one, send your name and address to Ron Sturgeon at [email protected].
A recent 3rd party business census found a 29% vacancy rate on Denton Highway, from Loop 820 South to Belknap, the city’s main corridor. Joe Palmer, director of communications for the business alliance, says, “With a business census in hand, we can track how much progress we are making on the 4 main corridors in South and Central Haltom City.” Palmer said, City staff wants to tout growth, most of it on the north side of town, and with some large warehouses, which in most cases don’t produce sales taxes, nor as much employment as small businesses would. He points out that those corridors are where people drive as they consider bringing their business or family to Haltom City. According to the 2020 census, Haltom City has fallen dramatically in population growth of Tarrant’s 41 cities, to the bottom quarter.
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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