New book offers insights into ways cities can build brands and use their use matrixes to gain advantage in the competition to attract and keep the small businesses that are the key to sustainable prosperity
HALTOM CITY, TX, April 14, 2022 /24-7PressRelease/ — Ron Sturgeon started his first business in Haltom City, a VW repair shop, nearly 50 years ago. He eventually morphed that business into an auto recycling business that he grew to one of the largest in the United States before he sold it to Ford. Today, he has become an activist for small businesses and entrepreneurs.
In his half century as a successful businessperson, Ron Sturgeon started and led several businesses that he eventually sold to Fortune 500 companies. A commercial real estate developer, he still employs 15 at his headquarters in Haltom City, where he began his career.
“Over the last 20 years, I’ve watched the older parts of Haltom City, the main thoroughfares in South and Central Haltom, slowly decline,” says Sturgeon. “These areas are like downtowns in many of America’s other small cities in that they are struggling to bring back some of their former prosperity,” says Sturgeon. In addition to starting his first business in Haltom City after his dad died, leaving him homeless and broke, he also raised his family in Skyline Mobile home park in the northern part of the city, after living in Layton Mobile Manor off N.E.28th St. He got his first rental property after he moved from a single wide to a double wide mobile home.
As a real estate developer with hundreds of small business tenants, Sturgeon has learned what makes the owners of small businesses come to an area and what makes them want to stay and which conditions are vital to the small business growth that is the principal ingredient to returning prosperity to older areas of small cities. “I’ve got the time and the money, and I know I can make a difference in revitalizing Haltom City,” Sturgeon says. “I also know how to attract and keep the right tenants, and especially how to manage automotive tenants so that they are appreciated as much as they are needed.”
“The leaders in small cities need to recognize that they are in competition with nearby cities to attract and keep small businesses,” said Sturgeon. “They need to think strategically about how to win that competition and that includes taking steps like building a brand for the city and examining the city’s table of uses to find areas where the city can create advantages over its neighbors,” said Sturgeon. “Also, many of these same cities have declining areas and broken infrastructure, so they’re moving from an era of seemingly unlimited funds and growth to trying to maintain the status quo, and fix their infrastructure in the face of declining tax revenues, and a covid-decimated small business community,” he added.
As cities have evolved, regulations, including zoning, use and development codes have become horrifically complex, and cities have become overly protective at the expense of businesses. Only the large developers can navigate the current requirements, so that leaves small businesses out. “They simply don’t have the experience, money, time or knowledge to navigate the system, so they either don’t, or they go to a city that has fewer restrictions. For instance, Haltom City doesn’t allow any auto dealers or repair without extensive hearings and paperwork and doesn’t allow them at all in the commercial zones, but in Fort Worth, they can roll up and open,” said Sturgeon.
Other ideas Sturgeon researched in writing the book include changing the building codes, at least in the beleaguered part of the city, to a form-based code instead of a use-based code, creating zones that need the most help, offering incentives in those zones, and reviewing recommendations from a third-party study that the alliance submitted to the council. To learn more about form-based codes, visit https://www.strongtowns.org/journal/2020/6/8/6-reasons-your-city-need … based-code. Other Tarrant County cities are considering adopting form-based code. Mansfield, TX just implemented one in its historic district, and in 6 months, has attracted 4 new projects.
In contrast, Haltom City has dropped from middle of the pack to the bottom quarter of the 41 cities in Tarrant County for population growth over the last 20 years. With thousands of people moving to Texas every day, Haltom City is lagging three quarters of other cities in Tarrant County in population growth.
Drawing upon his experience owning and starting businesses, and leading a grassroots business alliance, Haltom United Business Alliance, as it advocated for small business owners, Sturgeon spells out some of the specific steps that cities can take in his new book, Keeping the Lights on Downtown in America’s Small Cities: The Critical Role Small Businesses Play in Bringing Back Jobs & Prosperity.
Sturgeon’s coauthor, Gregory Smith, is an MBA with more than a decade of experience in government affairs for a major telecom and multiple terms as a city councilperson for a Florida city. “Many local leaders are fighting decline of the older parts of their cities,” said Smith. “Our book can help them begin to turn the lights back on,” he added.
The book is available on Amazon and through the Mr. Mission Possible website. Sturgeon, who seeks to rebuild prosperity for Haltom City, and knows that voters can only accomplish that by demanding more from their leadership. “Helping to educate the citizenry is the only way to get leadership that understands the importance of small businesses.” To that end, he is offering the book free to any Haltom City resident. “They can stop at my office to pick up a copy, at 5940 Eden Drive, or send me a message on Facebook,” he offered.
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, and bring more restaurants including breweries and 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, its 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 HUBAgrp@gmail.com. Visit the group’s Facebook at Haltom United Business Alliance.
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