Riverfront Resource Guide #1

Partnership Building


The key to successful projects is successful partnerships.

Riverfront projects, with their multitude of stakeholders, property owners, funding sources, required permits, and design constraints are no exception. Building the right team will enable you to build consensus and strategically align your riverfront goals with available resources.

To start the partnership building process, you will need to develop your project understanding (the what, why, and where) and identify potential stakeholders (the who). By understanding your project, you will identify the scale and scope of your project needs. Your project needs will directly impact who you engage to be a partner.

Below are questions to ask as you begin this process: (click to expand)

• What are the objectives and the time frame of the project? (for example: “In two years, design and construct, a destination riverfront park that will appeal to multiple generations.”)

• Why is this project important? ( “The project will provide needed park space and will increase economic development opportunities.”)

• Where is the project located? ( “The project is located on city property on River Street.”)

• Who are the key stakeholders?

• Who owns the land? Is the land owned by a city/state, a private land owner, or an institution?

• Who are the community leaders? Is there a city council member who will champion the project?

• Who from the community is already involved? Are there organizations which have worked on past riverfront projects/opportunities? (ie: non-profits, “friends of” groups, waterfront planning organizations, boating associations, community development corporations)

• Who has potential financial resources in the community? Is there a local foundation, institution, or corporation that would be interested in being involved?

• Who will be the future users of the project? Who lives in the adjacent neighborhoods?

Once you identify your project understanding and your stakeholders, it’s time to convene your partners.

Depending on the project and politics, it might be necessary to both meet one-on-one and in groups with key stakeholders. To strategically coordinate, start by mapping out the stakeholders. Sketch out how the stakeholders relate to each other and to the project. Ask yourself: who will be supportive? Who might be hesitant?

You may choose to reach out to stakeholders who require special attention through preliminary informal phone conversations, in-person meetings, and walking tours of the project site. Group meetings could include brainstorming sessions, goal setting workshops, group site tours, and open community meetings.

Follow the next steps below to start building successful partnerships: (click to expand)

• Develop your project understanding (see what, why, where)

• List potential stakeholders (see who)

• Draw and analyze a stakeholder map

• Conduct one-on-one stakeholder meetings

• Convene stakeholders for group meeting(s)

• With all stakeholders, develop and confirm specific project goals and objectives

• With all stakeholders, develop and confirm a project time-frame with deadlines and assigned responsibilities

• Convene stakeholders on a regular basis for project check-ins