Town Centres –Public Private Partnerships providing opportunities for the whole of society to grow together!

Happy New Year to all and all the very best for 23 from!
Town Centres –Public Private Partnerships providing opportunities for the whole of society to grow together!
This is really the first post I have made on LinkedIn related to WhatifGroup. It is now just over 2 years since I left NewRiver REIT to set up ‘Whatif… ‘with Kevin Parkes. We are building some amazing opportunities and connections and are really excited that the stars are aligning to help our” Purpose” become reality.
By way of background, Kevin’s whole career was working in the public sector and mine, the private sector. He was well versed on the redder side of politics and I, the blue, he grew up protestant and I, catholic.
The redder side of politics is clearly better for some and the blue for others, but what about something that works for the majority? Whilst that’s less possible in politics, it is certainly possible in the world of real estate and particularly relevant where all of society and community converges – the town and city centres.
Although this is in no-way diversity in the modern sense, it has certainly led to some interesting debates between us (not about religion btw but I no longer see my Faith as having a label) and where we have ultimately settled is that it’s about “doing the right thing for as many people as possible”. Granted that’s a tough ask, but it’s about the leaders thinking differently and adopting alternative approaches that provide opportunities, so that nobody is left behind.
We have therefore settled on the term “ethical capitalism” as being what we stand for. There is a need for many types of capitalism as that’s what innovates and drives us forward, but we need to use that growth to provide opportunity for the whole of society to grow together. That leads us into the realms of “Doughnut Economics” (#Kate Raworth) and the circular economy which is often referenced but lacking in good execution.
We are in no way shunning the opportunity for people to make as much money as they like, we are asking them to do it in a way that pulls others with them- a topic which is well written about but does not get enough exposure. Modern capitalism and I am afraid to say private sector greed, has largely ignored this leading to the massive wealth gaps we see today.
There are real opportunities to make money and also make a major contribution to social value and environmental sustainability.
We feel that we have met some really “good souls” and kindness seems to be slowly finding its way up the chain. ESG is becoming a new voluntary or forced way of doing good, whether its for people or the planet.
At the same time the public sector is under massive pressure from renewed austerity and so “kicking the can down the street” is even more of reality for town centres, unless we can do things differently.
We created a Framework called Place First Economics that sets out how to use a new form of governance that creates multi-stakeholder outcomes. This governance still needs the required ROI but also multi-stakeholder outcomes to get Board sign off to capex. If well executed and part of a corporate DNA, we believe this can often be done without additional cost – its about thinking even more laterally to achieve those multi-stakeholder outcomes.
Whatif…believe that this form of governance can better align the public and private sector (Kevin and I have debated long and hard) and help us achieve our vision of Public Private Partnerships, with equally shared risk and reward. The public sector can achieve equal return to that of the private sector, embracing the expertise of the private sector and in turn that makes it easier for the public sector to use its expertise with navigating the “red tape” including gap funding, grants, planning, politics, community etc. The private sector then finds it easier to deliver more and the public sector uses its share of the return for more regeneration, better skills and education, essential services etc – it is idealistic but with some of the major institutions now launching Funds geared toward social impact as-well as financial we are getting closer.
To ensure nobody is left behind and the future empowers the broader population, we have to embrace a new way of doing things and it is coming. A pivot yes, but not as hard as some seem to think.
#KevinParkes #IPM #ProfessorCathyParker #PublicPrivatePartnerships #towncentres
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