By Mike Saint, The Saint Consulting Group
At Saint Consulting, we believe governmental permissions affecting business, especially requests to use local land for specific corporate purposes, are inherently political.
After 1,600 projects in three countries over almost 30years, we believe government decides to approve or veto new retail, residential, energy, mining, waste, transport, health care and other projects based on the politicians’ perceptions of the political ramifications and not on the science, engineering, architecture or economic facts that are usually cited by project proponents.
This means that to be successful and achieve your goals in getting new land uses allowed or blocked, you must approach the process as you would in running a political campaign.
Because we believe it is a political process, we hire,train, and compensate our staff to create and implement successful political strategies that include identifying grassroots supporters (local residents) and then getting them to participate in the political process in a way that demonstrates to the government officials that local public opinion is on our side.
The grassroots supporters we recruit and organize are not “grasstops” ie. phony supporters. They are real people who live and vote in the community and have their own reasons to support or oppose a land use project. We show them how to make their voices heard with telephone town halls, video petitions, phone calls to officials, attendance at public hearings, and the efficient and creative use of social media, among other tactics.
The result is our side almost always wins and our clients get the result they need to make a profit.
In a world where it is getting more difficult to win land use permissions, where projects are often opposed by neighbors (NIMBYs), by competitors, by unions, by indigenous people and by various environmental and preservationist groups, you need to understand the real reasons why projects are approved or rejected. If you believe, as we do, that the approval process is political, you can run the proper campaign to achieve your goal.
Mike Saint is chairman and CEO of The Saint Consulting Group, email firstname.lastname@example.org