Public Finance and Development
Public Private Partnerships
More than 30 development and finance professionals met at One Kansas City Place on a cool late June morning to discuss a subject that rarely ever gets discussed beyond the superficial: namely, the extraordinary emergence of public-private partnerships in development projects, large and small. This assembly was an ongoing part of the Industry Outlook series created by Ingram's Magazine. Co-sponsoring the event were George K. Baum & Co., an investment banking firm, and the law firm of Polsinelli Shalton Welte Suelthaus (PSWS). Co-chairing were John Petersen of PSWS and Roger Edgar of George K. Baum.
What followed was a spirited, often provocative assessment of how public- private partnerships have morphed from anomaly to imperative over the last generation without anyone much noticing, and what the consequences of this transformation are for an area like greater Kansas City.
Illusion vs. Reality
As an introductory question, participants were asked whether there was, in fact, more public financing of otherwise private projects than there had been in the past or if that was simply an illusion.
"Certainly we do see more," offered Jack Dillingham of Piper Jaffray. He attributed the increase to the growing recognition that most of the easy places to build have already been built on and that site development costs in long developed areas cannot feasibly be built without financial assistance. Although he believed the evidence to be largely "anecdotal," Rick Smalley of Bank Midwest affirmed the surge in public involvement.
"Can anyone think of a major project without public involvement?" asked Randy Nay of Bank Midwest. "I can't think of one." "If you're talking about coming out of the ground," agreed Gary Sage of the Kansas City Economic Development Corporation, "I can't think of one either."
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