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Chapter 3: The Critical Roles of Groundwork and Collaboration Freight facility developers generally prefer to work with communities Freight facility developers that understand the competitive landscape of the freight industry. generally prefer to work with These communities come to the table with an understanding of the communities that understand company's goals, as well as how the company's and community's the competitive landscape of the goals align. They are able to suggest proposals that help reduce freight industry. initial investment or operating expense or at least to knowledgeably demonstrate the benefits of specific sites. This provides the most amenable environment for a win-win outcome. Such communities recognize that alignment of public and private sector goals yields Ideally, a community benefits for both long into the future. positioning itself for freight uses... will have developed a Companies begin discussions with government and economic vision, economic development development organizations at various times depending on their stage strategy, land use plan, in the location process. The more sure the company is about where transportation plan, and zoning they wish to be, the more likely it is that they will directly contact regulations that explicitly permit officials at the local level (county, city, or other) and begin feasibility and support these facilities in a discussions. If the search is regional (or at an early stage), then the variety of ways. company may decide instead to speak with state or regional officials. Ideally, a community positioning itself for freight uses (i.e., industrial or freight facility development) will have developed a vision, economic development strategy, land use plan, transportation plan, and zoning regulations that explicitly permit and support these facilities in a variety of ways. This also means that such plans will have been developed in such a way that areas designated for freight uses are either not in conflict with other community uses and residential neighborhoods or that a certain amount of conflict has been recognized, identified, and mitigation proposed. This type of preparation may be referred to as "laying the groundwork." Freight Facility Location Selection: A Guide for Public Officials 17
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Communities and regions can also help significantly in the industrial or freight facility development process by proactively managing the interaction with both stakeholders at all levels and with the broader public. These activities can result in "collaboration." Government and appointed officials can work with local interests to keep everyone informed, involved, and coordinated. For example, they can ameliorate community concerns by ensuring that the community has a vision that is broadly based, has been developed in a collaborative way, and that calls for land use development that supports the necessary tax base. Such a vision and plans will also transparently acknowledge potential impacts and suggest ways to avoid or mitigate those impacts. Proactive planning will also serve to educate the public on the benefits that such development can bring to the community at large, and demonstrate how the community can work with the new development to reduce the impact on residents to the greatest extent possible. The concepts of proactivity (planning, being proactive) and the building of collaboration particularly with the public deserve extra emphasis here. All local and regional planners want vital, attractive, and solvent communities. It is also true that this goal often requires very hard work in terms of solid strategic thinking and the courage to make controversial decisions or propose controversial alternatives. One key factor in reducing controversy is education of the public to the concept of "freight as a good neighbor." Freight is often seen as a "bad guy" contributing to noise, congestion, or unpleasant vistas. While there is no getting around the potential effects of freight uses, it is also true that freight facilities that are well-sited and well-planned can be a great benefit to a community in a variety of ways, from the development of an employment base to tax income potential. The more the public understands about the tradeoffs of land development, the more a community can be proactive in strategy, rather than reactive to controversy. Proactive planning and targeting of specific freight facility development helps to provide a cost-benefit framework of tax base and jobs to ameliorate traffic and other land use development issues. There are many issues on which residents or others may oppose such 18 Freight Facility Location Selection: A Guide for Public Officials