Cultivating Partner Vitality

Our success in shaping our communities is dependent on the strength of our relationships. We must cultivate both our own relationships inwardly as a community, and outwardly with the development establishment to achieve our goals. These positive relationships form as we show-up with intentional and sustained work to develop the capacity we use to lead. That is Partner Vitality. Community development does not happen in a vacuum.  Let’s move forward cohesively as communities and build effective partnerships within the development ecosystem to effectively advance our shared visions.

Partner Vitality

Here are the facets of Partner Vitality. These facets take work and often require coaching from a trusted outside facilitator. We encourage you to connect with an experienced facilitator near your community.

Focus Inward


Unite Behind a Cohesive Vision

The greatest factor limiting us from controlling our outcomes is the lack of a cohesive vision. The first step in cultivating Partner Vitality is uniting as a community around a clear, common vision of what we want.

Choose to Partner

It is understandable that we may want to shut-out the establishment given our histories, but few of us have the capacity to lead development. Choose to partner with trusted, seasoned experts and choose to sit at the table as partners.

Build Strength


Leaders for the Long Haul

Development is a long process requiring continuity and transparency. Choose leaders that represent the whole of your cohesive vision, who can remain engaged over the long-term and create a culture of transparency and accountability.

Gain the Technical Knowledge

Development isn’t rocket science but it also, is not simple. Learn the complexities of the real estate sector and use your knowledge to establish attainable outcomes. Identify experts in your community that can provide mentorship. Explore coursework, seminars, and training that will help you prepare.

Lead by Partnering


Educate our Partners

Partners can guide us through the development process, but they likely do not have a holistic understanding of the histories of our communities. We have an opportunity to lead by educating our partners on why this work is so important.


The Development Ecosystem

Development can seem opaque at times. There are lots of players, each with their own interests. And no development community is the same, making it even more complex. Here’s a simple explanation of the basic ecosystem.


Public Sector

The Public Sector of elected and appointed officials guides development through laws and code that developers must adhere to within each municipality.  Laws like land-use and building code, establish how dense and tall projects can be.  In turn, that drives the land value because a site with greater development potential is worth more.  Code can also mandate or encourage levels of affordability and inclusion through incentive zoning or other tools.



The Developers are at the epicenter of the ecosystem.  There are for-profit developers, non-profit developers and public sector developers like your local Housing Authority.  Developers can be large multi-nationals or small, home-grown businesses.  Each focuses on their area of specialty, including any combination of housing, retail, office or other programs. And to varying degrees, Developers engage the community for input on their projects. 


Capital fuels every project.  Typically, developers use outside sources of capital.  There are at least two types of capital: equity which is money invested by individuals or organizations, and debt which is a loan from a bank or other source.  Each source of capital puts requirements on its money which is what dictates what a developer can and cannot develop.  This is important because it means that the capital is just as responsible for shaping a project as the developer.  


Land Owners

Land owners influence what is developed within their community by choosing who to sell to, creating requirements on what can be developed, and working with their community to decide what to do with their property.  Not all owners want to sell; many may not be able to afford owning any longer. So it is understandable that owners strive to get the greatest value for their property. This is a tension for each community must navigate.



Developers hire a wide array of consultants to help them design, permit, and construct their projects.  This includes engineers, communications firms, architects, traffic planners, and contractors to name a few.  These consultants are typically for-profit entities whose livelihood depends on servicing the Developer within their contract.  It is then upon each consultant to include within their services some awareness of the impacts their work may have on their communities.



The speed at which tenants buy or rent a space and at what price is what makes or breaks a development.  Tenants are the consumers.  Over time, we as consumers have become more sophisticated in recognizing our influence on what products get made.  Whether we choose to rent or buy is a consumer choice that is like voting with our pocket-books.  This is true for all types of development – residential, retail, and office.


The Community is everyone else -- the renters, businesses, children, and average citizens, along with the organizations and nonprofits that strive to represent them.  How cohesive and engaged the Community is within its municipality can determine how much development projects incorporate their needs.  This engagement is crucial to have with the Public Sector, Developers, and Landowners.  As communities become more engaged they increase their Partner Vitality and their ability to directly influence development through Community Partnerships.