- Nov 5, 2019
Community engagement, transparency and respecting your constituents are the backbone of a successful referendum program. Gilbane partners with our clients early in the process to help guide them, provide information required to make informed decisions and support the campaign effort to get the YES vote. Here are 5 key takeaways to ensuring a smooth and successful referendum campaign.
#1 – Engage the Right Partner
You only have one chance to place an accurate project value on the ballot when asking voters to support a referendum for building improvements. Engaging the right construction management partner early on provides confidence that the project value on the ballot is accurate, which is crucial to delivering on the promises you make to your constituents and community.
#2 – Listen to Community Concerns
Many referendum-contingent projects are high profile, sentimental to the local community and attract a great deal of attention and emotion. Giving the community a voice to raise concerns and identify priorities will be an important step to garner support. Events such as town halls and community meetings offer an open forum for community partners to share feedback, and your construction management partner can help you address community-specific concerns at these meetings.
#3 – Communicate Early and Often
The basis of a successful referendum program is the development of a communications plan that addresses the needs of key stakeholders. It is critical to understand the mechanisms that are already in place to communicate with the broader community, and then develop a custom, project-specific communications plan to complement existing processes. This tailored plan should include project components most important to the community, rigorous safety and security planning, a proactive neighborhood management plan, traffic considerations, student inclusion opportunities and community partnerships.
#4 – Connect with the Community
With our experience building referendum-contingent projects, we understand the importance of being a good neighbor and the need to maintain positive relationships with the local community. Recently, Gilbane’s project team at East Prairie School in Skokie hosted a Student Inclusion Day for the school community. Students ranging from kindergarten through 8th grade learned about exciting technology, the construction industry and careers, and explored their new school through the magic of virtual reality, which is highlighted in this video. Programs like these are a great way to engage the community and generate excitement in a unique way.
#5 – Follow Through on Promises Made
Following through on the promises made during the referendum process is crucial to a successful project. The community is counting on their tax dollars to be put to good work, and their trust cannot be taken for granted or compromised. Your construction management partner should be held accountable for delivering on the budget, schedule and safety promises made to your community.
With the high-profile nature of a referendum-contingent project, early partnering, transparency and client advocacy are essential to successfully delivering a building project that highlights the unique voices of your community and stands the test of time.