Helping Sell the Development Vision
Chesapeake Public Strategies' Ellen Bogage,who spoke at our Montgomery County Economic & Real Estate Forecast last Friday, helps developers and local governments with community outreach and communications. Shesays gaining support comes down to three Es: educate, empower, and engage. Educate locals on the finer points of a project, engage them in the process, and empower them to have influence, so "they're not dealing with a giant faceless behemoth" of a developer.
Ellen has helped developers like JBG Rosenfeld (at its Tysons West project under construction, above) and Walmart with its proposed Aspen Hill location. She says a successful outreach program must have collaboration between developer and public. Development must recognize what a community has gone through historically and that developers can't simply show up as "the new sheriff in town." It also helps not to view meetings with the public as presentations, but as a conversation, she tells us, "to hear what the other side has to say."