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The leaders in small cities need to recognize that they are in competition with nearby cities to attract and keep small businesses.
HALTOM CITY, TX, February 24, 2023 /24-7PressRelease/ -- Ron Sturgeon, who has been a successful businessman in Haltom City for 50 years, recently updated his book Keeping the Lights on Downtown in America's Small Cities: The Critical Role Small Businesses Play in Bringing Back Jobs & Prosperity with seven new chapters:
• 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 Business Starting & Growing and Keys to Returning Commerce and Prosperity
• Failed Revitalization Ideas (TIRZ and other mistakes).
• A Form-Based Code Success Story: Mansfield, Texas (Interview with Mansfield Planning Director)
• Understanding Real Estate: A Key to Revitalization
• Choosing, Sizing, and Prioritizing Your Initiative: Strategic Thinking
• Ready to be the Evangelist and Change Your City? It Can Be a Lonely Assignment.
Sturgeon's coauthor, Gregory Smith, is an MBA with more than a decade of experience in government affairs for a major telecom and multiple terms as a city councilperson for a Florida city. "Many local leaders are fighting decline of the older parts of their cities," said Smith. "Our book can help them begin to turn the lights back on using the lessons that we have learned over the last 18 months of trying to help Haltom City revitalize," he added. The first edition, published in May 2022, has received a lot of critical acclaim and more than (20) 5-star reviews on Amazon.
"Over the last 20 years, I've watched the older parts of Haltom City, the main thoroughfares in South and Central Haltom, slowly decline," says Sturgeon.
"These areas are like downtowns in many of America's other small cities in that they are struggling to bring back some of their former prosperity," he added.
Many cities have learned solutions; for instance, Fayetteville Arkansas eliminated parking minimums some years back and has seem many new businesses and eateries start that would not have been allowed under the previous rules. And, curiously, everyone found a place to park!
As a real estate developer with thousands of tenants, Sturgeon shares what he has learned about what will make the owners of small businesses come to an area and what will make them want to stay and make investments.
He also discusses which conditions are vital to the small business growth that is the principal ingredient to returning prosperity to older areas of small cities.
"I've got the time and the money, and I know I can make a difference in revitalizing Haltom City," Sturgeon says. "I also know how to attract and keep the right tenants, and especially how to manage tenants so that they are appreciated as much as they are needed."
"I am offering the new book, the second edition, to Haltom City residents who are interested in a brighter future for Haltom City that includes more jobs, more choices of goods and services and more small businesses filling spaces that are vacant right now in South and Central Haltom City," said Sturgeon. To get the book, email Sturgeon your address at [email protected]. Or attend his book signing at Tarrant Events Center, 5230 Denton Highway, on March 30, 2023, from 5 to 7 PM. Free hot dogs, a free book and a family- and dog-friendly event in Haltom City.
"The leaders in small cities need to recognize that they are in competition with nearby cities to attract and keep small businesses," Sturgeon said. "They need to think strategically about how to win that competition. That includes taking steps like building a brand for the city and examining the city's table of uses to find areas where the city can create advantages over its neighbors," Sturgeon noted.
Haltom City isn't alone when it comes to the need to revitalize downtown areas that have declined. "Many cities have declining areas and broken infrastructure, so they're moving from an era of seemingly unlimited funds and growth to trying to maintain the status quo and fix their infrastructure in the face of declining tax revenues, and a COVID-decimated small business community," Sturgeon said.
Stringent regulations, including zoning, parking, use and development codes, have become horrifically complex, and cities have become overly protective at the expense of businesses.
"Only the large developers can navigate the current requirements, so that leaves small businesses out. They simply don't have the experience, money, time or knowledge to navigate the system, so they either don't, or they go to a city that has fewer restrictions. For instance, Haltom City doesn't allow any auto dealers or auto repair shops without extensive hearings and paperwork and doesn't allow them at all in the commercial zones, but in Fort Worth, they can roll up and open," Sturgeon said.
Other ideas Sturgeon researched in writing the book include changing the building codes, at least in the beleaguered part of the city, to a form-based code instead of a use-based code; creating zones that need the most help; offering incentives in those zones and reviewing recommendations from a third-party study that Haltom United Business Alliance submitted to Haltom City Council last June.
To learn more about form-based codes, visit https://www.strongtowns.org/journal/2020/6/8/6-reasons-your-city-need ... based-code. Other local cities are considering adopting form-based code. Mansfield, Texas just implemented one in its historic district, and in six months, has attracted four new projects.
In contrast, Haltom City has dropped from middle of the pack to the bottom quarter of the 41 cities in Tarrant County for population growth over the last 20 years. With thousands of people moving to Texas every day, Haltom City is lagging three quarters of other cities in Tarrant County in population growth.
To build a coalition for revitalization, Sturgeon has started a Make Haltom City Thrive Again campaign. To draw attention to the effort, he has purchased billboards with the URL of the campaign website, where visitors can find a detailed plan to attract the hundreds of millions of dollars in private investment needed to make the aging corridors of Haltom City bustle again. Sturgeon explains aspects of the concept plan in a series of videos that are part of the Make Haltom City Thrive website.
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.
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 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.
About Haltom United Business Alliance
Haltom United Business Alliance (HUBA) is a group of business owners dedicated to making Haltom City the most business-friendly city in Tarrant County. HUBA recognizes the contributions of small business owners to community and their unique role in providing jobs, goods and services, and greater choice to the people of Haltom City. HUBA believes innovative strategies are needed to create a strong business tax base to allow residential tax reductions. All Haltom City business owners are eligible to join HUBA. For more information, contact Joe Palmer at (682) 310-0591 or by email at [email protected] or visit the group's Facebook page at Haltom United Business Alliance.
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