Public Participation In The Development Of Our Cities. The Entrepreneurial Mindset.

Responsible Entrepreneurship: Part I of III

An entrepreneur is someone who seeks to profitably solve a problem that the world has…”

Now more than ever before, the world and its cities need leaders. I believe that each person possesses leadership potential. However, fear, greed, and competition create divisions between people that tend to hinder results that would enhance the greater good. True leadership entails holding a higher purpose and transcending differences.

A city, first and foremost, is its people — the people who make their homes within the jurisdiction. Other stakeholders in its development and well-being include seasonal residents, tourists, activists, entrepreneurs, governmental administrators, and the environment. Representatives of all these parties have a voice in local governmental policy-making, particularly respecting publicly-owned lands.

Decisions affecting a city’s watershed merit extra public feedback, because their outcomes impact the entire population. Whether involving brick-and-mortar construction or green space preservation, results of development extend beyond the project’s perimeter. Each project establishes or reinforces a land-use precedent. Each one impacts adjacent land parcels as well as the rivers, lakes, and streams that empty them.

Nonetheless, perhaps considering major city development projects the domain of entrepreneurs, engineers, architects and investors, most citizens give feedback only on the requests for development (RFP, or the submission form a city issues to elicit bids for a proposed project, such as development of a city-owned parcel of land) that affect the value of their own property. Most people remain aloof concerning city-wide matters.

In a democracy, we can’t afford such insularity and apathy. Because land-use plans and zoning codes are determined by our elected representatives, our voice directly influences them. However, in commenting upon the soundness of RFPs, citizens must analyze problems with the mindset of the entrepreneur, critically and with an eye to the future.

In short, public participation along with due diligence engenders more lasting solutions to economic, social, and environmental issues. When constituents assume a vested interest and responsibility in the city, elected leaders also become more informed and proactive. Their decision-making process evolves into a more transparent, representative, and community oriented approach.

Here are some images of a development in Washburn, Wisconsin, USA.

This shows an alley in the heart of the business district. While currently stores are orientated away from the lake, a simple adjustment could change this. Through creation of a pedestrian walkway on the back (alley) side of these businesses, stores would have the option of accessibility from either Bayfield (Main) Street or the new pedestrian walkway. This would release considerable development pressures on the verdant lakefront while encouraging business owners to open their stores to the lake. By capitalizing upon lake views, local entrepreneurs likely would witness not only increasing property values but also rising sales. Properly cultivated, the unique aspects of Washburn’s lakefront would set it apart from cities that have walled off their lakefronts with buildings. It would help attract the quality of aesthetically pleasing development that lends itself to sustainable tourism.


This photo illustrates some 8 hectares of verdant Lake Superior frontage in the heart of Washburn.


The blue warehouse, trucks, machinery, and various supplies and parts are on a city-owned acreage used for operations of the Bayfield County Garage. Wouldn’t it be more profitable to the city to relocate the garage on the outskirts of town and zone this prime, lakeview real estate commercial rather than industrial?


This is one example of a lake view from the alley behind the business district on Bayfield (Main) Street.


Part II and III to follow soon.

Written by,

Roth Edwards

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