The 2014 Public Private Partnership (P3) Conference was February 24-25 in downtown Dallas. Attendees included decision-makers and project leaders from government offices, architectural firms, construction companies, and specialized P3 consultants. Sessions covered topics on market specific projects (i.e. hospitality and transit), financing P3 projects, the framework of P3 projects, and real projects that are on the horizon.
“Collaboration” is the best way to describe the environment of the P3 Conference. P3 project teams were on panels, municipalities looking for P3 partners were in networking sessions and everyone was sharing ideas as well as lessons learned. With the demand for public space increasing but the financial options decreasing the P3 cooperative is a good option for long term project relationships.
Each breakout session kept repeating that a strong communication strategy was key to a successful P3 project. Since a P3 project has more stakeholders than a usual project and public interests are front and center a communication platform that can keep everyone up to date and help define messaging goes a long way to a improve the project’s outcome.
Additionally, having political champions of P3 is required to help move the project through the proper regulatory channels. Since P3 projects require government buy-in it also means those projects are sensitive to schedules that are not common on other types of projects. Political champions may or may not be in office by the time the project goes through government approval and this additional layer of deadlines must be taken into account during the project’s early development stages.
Dan McRae, Partner at Seyfarth Shaw LLP, mentioned during his breakout session “Putting the P’s Together” people will talk about P3 projects and it comes across as a “kumbaya” story. The real truth is that P3 projects are unique. A P3 project has put together a private company and a public entity that have different reporting structures and transparency guidelines. The public portion of the P3 team wants the private sector to be transparent and offer certainty for their role. The private portion of the P3 team wants the public sector to accept this new project platform.
Arnie Cohen, Vice President and Director of Transportation at Lockwood, Andrews & Newnam, shared that his company has a designated group of people who are on P3 projects since it requires an alternative approach to seeing the project through. Having a group of people as the P3 experts at his company has allowed them to share best practices within their organization as well as refine their project approach and communication platform for P3 projects.
To see more conversations about the 2014 P3 Conference you can view the discussions on Twitter by searching #P3C2014.