Book authors acknowledge challenges in Keeping the Lights on Downtown in America’s Small Cities, 2nd Edition

HALTOM CITY, TX, June 06, 2023 /24-7PressRelease/ — Authors Gregory Smith and Ron Sturgeon recently released the 2nd Edition of the critically acclaimed book Keeping the Lights on Downtown in America’s Small Cities. The update includes seven new chapters outlining successful strategies (and a few fails) for revitalization of inner cities, as well as some of the challenges to be faced by those who advocate for change:

• Form-Based Codes: What They Are and Why Cities Should Consider Adopting Them (Written by Architect and Arlington TX City Councilwoman Rebecca Boxall)
• Impediments to Small Business Starting & Growing and Keys to Returning Commerce and Prosperity
• Failed Revitalization Ideas (TIRZ and other mistakes).
• A Form-Based Code Success Story: Mansfield, Texas
• Understanding Real Estate: A Key to Revitalization
• Choosing, Sizing, and Prioritizing Your Initiative: Strategic Thinking
• Ready to be the Evangelist and Change Your City? It can be a Lonely Assignment.

In their last chapter, the authors write that being an “Evangelist” for the needed changes in your city will be a thankless position that will leave you feeling defeated at times. No matter who you are or how good your intentions, the handful of haters on Facebook and social media will make themselves heard. Additionally, you’ll probably hear comments like “Oh, that won’t work in our city,” or “But you don’t understand that our situation is different.” The reality, say the authors, is that “almost all problems we discuss in the book are likely to be found in most cities that are fifty years old, unless they have had innovators and change agents on their council.”

It’s been clear that most simply don’t want the change, and everything is analyzed considering the lowest common denominator. Staff recalls the fire that was caused 37 years ago because a satellite dish fell off a roof. Guess what, we’ve now got a whole new set of rules for satellite dishes! Sturgeon adds, “Many cities are discovering that eliminating parking minimums can be a major factor in revitalizing older parts of town. But when you mention it, everyone looks at you like you’re a cyclops.”

Many are so closed minded they wont even go look at the successes other cities like Fayetteville Arkansas have had with this one simple change.” It’s one of the first things we suggested to our council, and it was ignored outright. If you Google “eliminate parking minimums”, there are more success stories than you can even read. “I didn’t find a single city that reported a bad outcome” Sturgeon adds.

Co-author Ron Sturgeon is a successful entrepreneur who has watched the decades-long decline in his hometown of Haltom City with dismay. While advocating for business growth, he makes it clear that a successful revitalization plan must also include housing and infrastructure if the goal is to turn a declining inner city area around. Says Ron, “This book, and my role as the champion is on just the business side of the project… My skills and experience are in small business and building business parks, so I try to stay in my wheelhouse.”

In 2021, Ron founded the Haltom United Business Alliance (HUBA), a grass-roots organization that advocates for the interests of Haltom City’s business community and works to keep them informed. Over the past two years, HUBA has presented a number of well-researched revitalization strategies to the city council on behalf of the group, to no avail.

Personally frustrated by the lack of initiative of the city council, Ron launched Make Haltom City Thrive Again in 2022. The new campaign aims to bring city-wide attention to the issues at hand and calls out the need for leaders who will think outside of the box and commit themselves to making a difference. The campaign has a dedicated website, has posted an initial Concept Plan for revitalization and has placed billboards around the city saying “Time for a Change,” “Bring the Businesses Back,” and “We Need New Leaders.”

As part of the Make Haltom City Thrive Again campaign, Sturgeon will send a free copy of the book to all Haltom City residents and business owners who request one. Says Ron, “I am offering the new book, the second edition, to Haltom City residents who are interested in a brighter future for Haltom City that includes more jobs, more choices of goods and services and more small businesses filling spaces that are vacant right now in South and Central Haltom City.” A copy can be obtained by emailing your name and address to [email protected].

About Haltom City
Haltom City is a medium-sized city between Dallas and Fort Worth in Tarrant County, TX. The city is diverse and majority working class, with a growing population that is approximately 10% Asian-American and 45% Hispanic. Haltom City benefits from being only minutes from both DFW Airport and Downtown Fort Worth, with direct access to major highways including I-820 and SH-121. Small businesses that have historically provided products, services, and jobs to residents included a once thriving automotive industry. The city has seen a decline in small businesses, especially automotive businesses. The city is healthy financially, with median household income growing around 8% in the past year. Haltom City has an opportunity for continued growth through undeveloped land and many vacant buildings, especially in major corridors close to the city’s center. The city has good staff and a city manager who is interested in seeing more businesses come to Haltom City, but they can only do as directed by City Council.

About Haltom United Business Alliance
Haltom United Business Alliance (HUBA) wants to give members of Haltom City’s business community an advocate and to keep those businesses informed about issues that affect them. They want to make sure Haltom City is business friendly and nurtures small business growth, including automotive businesses in the industrial districts, and bring more restaurants including breweries and eventually a major grocery store to the city. New businesses and growth in existing businesses will create a stronger tax base which will allow the city to pay its first responders wages that are competitive with surrounding cities while improving Haltom City’s facilities and infrastructure. HUBA believes that the southern and central parts of the city need a revitalization plan, to prevent further degradation in those areas, and wants that to happen before the inner-city experiences increased crime and more blight. As retail and office uses are in decline, it’s more critical than ever to attract new businesses. They believe that such a plan requires a strong relationship and support of the business community. Anyone who owns a business in Haltom City is eligible to join HUBA. Dues are $20 annually or $50 for a lifetime membership, and membership is 100% confidential. To join, contact Joe Palmer at (682) 310-0591 or by email at [email protected]. Visit the group’s Facebook at Haltom United Business Alliance.

About Make Haltom City Thrive Again
The Make Haltom City Thrive Again is a movement to return prosperity to the older parts of South and Central Haltom City by luring the small businesses that have left over the past decades back to Haltom City. A vibrant business community not only allows for greater employment and choice of goods and services, but also can ease the tax burden on residents. The movement is led by local entrepreneur and business owner Ron Sturgeon. For more on Sturgeon’s ideas and background, check out his book Keeping the Lights on Downtown in America’s Small Cities and watch the videos on his Facebook page. Ron is also the founder of the Haltom United Business Alliance (HUBA) which represents existing business interests in Haltom City and promotes growth of diverse businesses. HUBA is not a political action committee and does not endorse candidates. If/when Ron endorses candidates, he will do so on his own via the Make Haltom City Thrive Again organization.

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