US Chamber of Commerce Attributes NIMBY Activism as Part of Trillion Dollars Lost in Energy Sector

posted by Patrick Slevin

The Chamber rolled out its new study, Project Denied: The Potential Economic Impact of Permitting Challenges Facing Proposed Energy Projects, in a press briefing at Chamber headquarters last week. The study highlights stalled energy projects and finds they are costing the U.S. economy more than a trillion dollars and almost two million jobs.  Project No Project assesses the broad range of energy projects that are being stalled, stopped, or outright killed nationwide due to “Not In My Back Yard” (NIMBY) activism, a broken permitting process and a system that allows limitless challenges by opponents of development. 

Hundreds of billions of dollars in lost economic opportunity in just ONE SECTOR!  You factor in big boxes, affordable housing, hotels, casinos, mining, mixed uses, master planned communities, health care etc etc, you will find hundreds of billions of dollars MORE in lost investment capital, revenues, market share, and shareholder values .  We have transitioned from a NIMBY Nation to a BANANA Republic years ago, but the cycle continues.  For more info on NIMBY stopping energy projects in your state go to  www.projectnoproject.com.

NIMBYism is preventable in the majority of cases (read my prior blogs for the secrets), which means untold billions of dollars can be plugged back into our recovery.  Email me your questions or comments at patrick.slevin@hillandknowlton.com.

New York Times: Wal-Mart Opens Major Campaign to Take New York City

posted by Patrick Slevin

Wal-Mart has experienced significant NIMBY opposition to retailer’s intent on entering NYC.  In response, the big box retailer has launched an extensive PR/Advertising campaign to include a NYC specific website www.walmartnyc.com.  The “PR blitz” will encompass direct mail, advertisements, and website.  The question is will a traditional campaign be enough to secure social equity and political capital?

The developing Wal-Mart story exposes the nasty truth that many want to keep on denying – NIMBYism is more intensive, frequent, and prevalent.  The Great Recession has done little, if anything, to diminish the impact of NIMBY push back that’s costing the real estate industry billions and the American economy jobs. 

It’s true there are less developments than before the market crash, but that means those companies that somehow survived the recession have greater risks of being opposed by vocal special interests.  The Wal-Mart situation will offer a good case study for the industry. Stay tuned.

A recent New York Times report outlines the story in this article: Wal-Mart Opens Majori Campaign to Take NYC.

Town Hall Meetings Rarely Win Community Approval

posted by Patrick Slevin

Town hall meetings can have a positive impact on your public outreach efforts, but too many professionals carelessly default to the town hall as a primary means of securing social equity.  The result is 9 out of 10 town hall meetings fail to gain political support for controversial real estate projects. 

My recent column for the National Real Estate Investor Tips on NIMBY Town Hall Meetings explains the shortcomings of town hall meetings and how they quickly become media spectacles favoring vocal minorities.

In my column, I offer three key tips on how to make the most of a town hall meeting.  The secret is to conduct social outreach that reduces the risk of needing a town hall venue.  Read my article and I welcome your thoughts.

Patrick Slevin Talks About Real Estate Trends in 2011

posted by Patrick Slevin

What can we expect to see in 2011?

The U.S. economy takes a sustainable turn toward recovery in 2011.

There’s a general consensus that residential and commercial real estate markets have survived the worst of the Great Recession.  We expect to see in 2011 modest, but diversified growth in real estate development.

The foreclosure crisis still looms over the housing market in 2011, but new jobs, low interest rates, and upticks in mortgage loans will begin the long road to housing market recovery. 

Commercial development in 2011 will collectively demonstrate growth. Medical facilities, multi-family, rail, port expansions, hotels, and energy will continue to lead development in 2011. Retailers will be encouraged by consumer spending in 2011. They will seek out new sites for infill development, albeit, very selectively. Office developers will see slight improvement in occupancy rates, but still a long way from collecting the rents they once enjoyed.

What are the implications of these trends for companies?

Jobs! Jobs! Jobs!  Corporate developers have enjoyed a bit more political leverage when proposing “new job-creating” developments.  However, corporations are not always receiving rubberstamps on projects that proffer economic and environmental sustainability.

As infill development intensifies in 2011, corporations will encounter higher-income demographics with greater political muscle.  Corporate leaders will need to recalibrate their growth strategies and community approaches.

Retail giant Wal-Mart is rolling out 20,000 square foot stores to lead its “aggressive push into urban markets”.  A smaller store presents a smaller target for community resistance in areas such as Manhattan, where the company hopes to open its first store.

The intensity and frequency of community opposition known as NIMBY continues to defeat job creating projects.  Disputes over traffic, pollution, height, density, infrastructure, environment, preservation, and character of communities will undermine billions of dollars in global real estate investments in 2011.

Earning the social license to operate remains a key element in securing project approvals in rural, suburban, and urban locations. Those companies that incorporate social sustainability to augment economic and environmental sustainability will reduce risk, grow market share and increase profits.

Boston Globe: NIMBY Objection Full of Manure

posted by Patrick Slevin

The Boston Globe editorial, NIMBYism: Objection Full of Manure peers into the highly-publicized, but vaguely understood world of NIMBY.  The Globe editorial shows that NIMBY isn’t always about virtuous homeowners defending against unwanted sprawl, or in this case protecting the wetlands.  In many cases, as reported in the Globe, public objections often mask a deeper bias or self-serving agenda. 

The lesson behind this editorial, if you don’t conduct social due diligence (public affairs-risk management), then you’re arbitrarily reacting against  public gamesmanship that only intensifies the controversy,  leading to political rejection of your real estate investments, as well as giving your corporate reputation a black eye.

The New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Boston Globe have all recently reported on the NIMBY syndrome and its impact on various real estate interests across the nation.  A coincidence or something more?  If you’re not sure about the answer, then you are rolling the dice on your real estate investments, risking millions of dollars, and empowering vocal minorities that are adept at exploiting such corporate abdication. 

See for yourself.  Here is the link:  NIMBYism: Objection Full of Manure

NIMBYism on the Rise, Poll Finds

posted by Patrick Slevin

A recent poll conducted in United Kingdom shows NIMBYism on the rise, despite the need for more housing.  Over 80 percent of Brits want new housing developed, but not near them.  The paradox sounds familiar.  Much like majority of Americans have a very low opinion of Congress, but think highly of their local Congressman. 

England provides a preview of how NIMBY impacts North America.  The increased demand for mult-family housing in the US is countered by homeowners who don’t want it in their backyards, as evidenced in Long Island (See Nov. 30 blog). 

The Press Association published the findings of the poll.  Read it here, NIMBYism on the Rise, Poll Finds

Wall Street Journal: Developers Using Social Media to Fight Opponents

posted by Patrick Slevin

A recent Associated Press report featured in the Wall Street Journal, Developers Using Social Media to Fight Opponents, dispels the notion that NIMBYism is suppressed due to the recession. In fact, it has thrived and as the market begins to recover, billions of dollars in investment capital, revenue, shareholder value, and market share are at risk.  Corporate executives, investors, developers, public officials, and consultants should pay closer attention to the undercurrent rising up on the real estate market.

The article reports how a “bunch of moms” on Long Island used social media, Facebook, to mobilize opposition against a $100 million housing project by AvalonBay Communities.  The article touches upon several characteristics worth a closer look:

1.  “Bunch of moms” were able to mobilize opposition to protest at town hall via phone on Facebook.  The opposition leader quoted in the story cited similar opposition groups around the country, providing her a template in fighting Goliath developers;

2. The WSJ story cites opposition groups in Richmond, VA and Chicago, using Facebook to oppose big box and other projects. 

3.  According to the report, the “industry was taken by surprise” and the “developer was caught off guard” by the intensity of opposition and the effectiveness of social media. “Backers of the development were stunned.” 

4.   Not everyone believes a developer should use Facebook to counter NIMBY opposition.

5.  It was a victory for the little guy.  The classic David vs. Goliath genre article.

6.  The article title reflects the Us. v. Them perspective.  Sustainable projects secure social equity vs. having to “fight” the community for support. Social media is a communications tool that delivers facts, dispels gossip and respects (all) opinions of the community that grants it the social license to operate. 

Pass this blog on to your colleagues and create more awareness.  The longer the industry keeps its head in the sand and hopes NIMBY conflict doesn’t find their projects, the more projects will experience the “shock & awe” of a bunch of moms. 

Patrick Slevin is senior vice president of Hill & Knowlton, an international communications consultancy firm with 83 offices in 44 nations.  He counsels corporate developers on how to win social equity and political approvals for controversial real estate projects.  Patrick is a highly-sought speaker who is available to speak at your next trade conference, chapter meeting,  or corproate retreat.

He can be reached at Patrick.Slevin@HillandKnowlton.com or phone him directly at 850.222.4100.

Police and NIMBY Protestors Clash. Nine Hurt Over Oppositon Against S. Korean Steel Project in India

posted by Patrick Slevin

NIMBYism can get bloody as evidenced by this report in the state of Orissa, India.  Hundreds of local citizens protested a proposed S. Korean steel mill and riot police baton charged and fired rubber bullets to disperse citizens.  Orissa has a large concentration of opposition to multi-national corporations and projects.  Nine Hurt as Anti-Posco Protesters Police Clash.

The common denominator that causes the vast majority of NIMBY conflicts around the world is the lack of communication between corporations and citizens.  Whether its indigenous peoples protecting sacred sites or homeowners protecting the character of their communities, corporate executives can secure social sustainability under the guidance of public relations. 

Public relations’ primary goal is building and maintaining relationships with corporate stakeholders.  This includes the “community-at-large”  that grants a corporation the social license to operate.

For more information about how you can protect your triple-bottom-line priorities contact Patrick Slevin at Patrick.Slevin@hillandknowlton.com.

NIMBY in Eastern India

posted by Patrick Slevin

A proposed “$6 billion” steel project is supported by the government, but locals want to protect their agrarian lifestyle.  The NIMBY syndrome transcends nations, economics, and cultures.  Where progress runs into status quo it often creates local anxieities and opposition.  The steel project reported in the Indian state of Orissa, is the fourth such project successfully opposed by local opposition. 

For more on this project go to NIMBY in Eastern India.

NIMBY in the Land Down Under

posted by Patrick Slevin

Where there’s conflict between status quo and progress anywhere in the world, there you will find NIMBY.  In the Land Down Under conflict over sprawl and change are evident in Melbourne as reported in the Sydney Morning Herald, Labors Highrise Dystopia.