Founded in 2009, the Institute of Business District Management will house what appears to be the world’s first on-line training vehicle for business district management and public-private partnership administration, and the research and evaluation of special district forms of governance. National Center for Public Productivity (NCPP) is the research and service arm of the Rutgers-Newark School of Public Affairs and Administration (SPAA). It is intended to be known nationally and internationally for its research and training on public-private partnership management, performance measurement, and performance improvement. The Institute is a natural progression of NCPP’s research and education infrastructure: providing Internet-based innovative training on public-private partnership management and administration, and is accessible worldwide.
At the heart of a public-private partnership is the management of a new sense of community. One that builds on its assets, sustains its values, and provides a place where people generate their livelihoods through participation.. The professional of public-private partnership management and its affiliate: business improvement district management, is a pragmatic tale of emerging and evolving community spirit and democratic process. The recognition that within municipalities exist not only neighborhoods, but systems of communal interaction based on a variety of social and economic interdependencies that define the context of private investment and public accountability at the heart of the managed public-private partnership. Managed districts are the formal public structures deliver the services and promises of the 3-Ps. In this way, managed business districts fundamentally reinforce practices that support successful democratic governance and community development and provide the public sector asset management structure necessary to define and implement property investment maximization strategies. The managed special district and public-private partnership is first and foremost a vehicle for building successful communities. It relies on community organization and implementation practices. The public-private partnership manager is a change agent; a facilitator of public processes that engage individuals in developing and sustaining community competencies and competitive practices that draw out a community’s potential and refine its assets. These “public managers” often rely more on inter-sectoral and inter-organizational processes as complements for (and sometimes as substitutes for) authority.
The Institute works to define and support professionalism in public-private partnership administration. The idea of professionalism in public administration has its controversies starting with the nagging question of accountability to democratic processes. This controversy extends to all forms of public administration, and is less an issue when the task being assigned is strictly technical such as: building inspector, postal clerk, soldier, garbage collector, police, fireman, economic development, etc. These task positions are aptly described as being “professionals in government”, and those that provide the task of managing government services are “professionals of government”. When the professionalism, however, is focused on strategic policies to help the good of the full community, complete with organizational decision-making that is outside of the normal public sector decision-making functions, then the way in which these partnerships are managed becomes a new model in community decision-making.
In either case, the term “professional” not only describes a recognized mastery of a particular and useful skill or technology, but ascribes to itself a sense of public mission and ethical purpose. Both derive from the establishment of collective order and purposeful public action in the form of government. Business District Management is a unique profession. This is because it describes more than it prescribes a sense of humanity, and equitable public service behavior, as well as a set of outcomes that are achieved by good management practices. Business District Management is an outcome of a desire for collective action and communal identity that is naturally evolving. The outcomes of Business District Management derive from this (communal) desire, and the actions necessary to translate communal desire into benefits and results.
Professional aspects, alive within the realm of public-private partnership administration, have two components described above and are separated by the need and role of management, which implies that there is a business of government. The business of government, as opposed to the private sector, trades in realm of public values, ethics, and, interest that are simply not measurable simply by market forces. They cope with the interdependencies of society rather than independent aspirations of the individual. Although leadership and political identity may promote one individual over another, it is the public trust that advises the government, not simply personal interest.
The public-private partnership professional is the aspirant of the community representing core values and manages those values as assets to produce a healthy economic state. Communal values are derived by a pursuit of that which promotes growth and development … for all; essentially, an entrepreneurial drive. The paradox in public –private partnership professionalism is the balancing of one’s personal values with that of the community. An assumption that they are aligned will result in inequity. The professional public-private partnership administrator’s task then is to eliminate assumptive values and work to discover, reveal and sustain agreements of important community values.
The public-private partnership business district manager is an entrepreneurial public administrator whose profession arises when “private market solutions are inadequate or infeasible and collective public action is required” (Gargan, 1998). In almost every case managed business districts are created by choice through community-based planning processes. They start at the bottom, the common ground, and work outward. The determining choice of a community is to take collective action, and this inevitably moves towards other established forms of collective action: so that a private/public partnership is brokered. The desire to sustain this partnership defines many special district forms of governance, particularly business improvement districts (BIDs). For example, usually sustained through the provision of business development services, BID services reflect the public choice to be “decentralized, participatory, pluralist, and inclusive” (Fry and Nigro, 1998), and to manage that choice effectively. BID managers step onto the cutting edge of Business District Management as revitalizationalists; facilitators of value-based community identity and the management of the agreements that eventually sustain that identity. This describes a process of transformation from individual to interdependent activist. The profession of BID management therefore steps beyond and above technical aspects of community development such as clean and safe, promotions, design, and business recruitment and retention, to the practice of democratic governance at the heart of public-private partnerships.
The Institute acknowledges that Business District Management professional practices the art of community development and organization; of directing his or her intention to the public good. A public-private partnership manager, business district manager, as public administration professional, does not ignore what is valuable in and about a community, and instead promotes them. If there is an art to public administration it would be the art of community development and organization; the creation and occurrence of not only the sense, but the practice of community organization and development that sustain a community both socially and economically.
Business Improvement Districts as public-private partnerships are sub-units of government established to encourage a breakthrough in public and private sector behavior. These quasi-governmental partnerships are designed to transcend presumed adversarial relationships often experienced between government and business, and initiate a true partnership that utilizes the strengths and offsets the weaknesses of each sector. Public–private partnering presents an opportunity to bridge and unify dysfunctional and pathological social-economic dichotomies. This allows the public sector to enjoy more vigorous entrepreneurship while allowing the private sector to utilize public authority and processes to achieve economic revitalization. The public sector takes on private aspects and the private takes on public responsibility. The increased knowledge of social, political, and economic processes benefits each sector, but challenges established systems that have not achieved an institutional understanding of this unique partnership. The common discourse on public-private partnerships focuses on the privatization aspects of the partnership in which public services become privatized. This paper addresses the “publicization” process in which private sector actors take on public accountabilities and begin to dissolve the public-private dichotomy to create a new hybrid capacity for community and business development. This new capacity might act as a “third door” to economic and social stability and success.
The Institute offers comprehensive research and education not just regarding the theory and practice of public-private partnerships, but also highlights the locally created and managed special districts called business improvement districts as a less explored but growing public administration innovation. The Institute has an compelling interest in the locally managed business districts (MBD) form of special district, such as Business Improvement Districts (BIDs), refer collectively to the variously named publicly sanctioned entities with self-imposed obligatory or voluntary special assessments, self-determined public service provision and that occupy a legally designated area. The innovatory characteristics of MBDs, arise as state and local legislatively enabled self-governing entities that blur traditional distinctions between public and private organizations. Consequently, governance raises critical questions of democratic representation, accountability, transparency, and responsiveness. This Institute reviews the impact of these standards on managed business districts and thereby lays the foundation for the emerging profession attributes of public-private partnership administration. Establishment of that profession compels a combined application of public entrepreneurship and public service together with the recognition, development, and application of social capital.