Our community due diligence service is a new and innovative approach to a big industry problem. Community resistance is growing towards infrastructure projects, including linear projects like high speed trains and pipelines and large scale power lines. For this reason, it is critical that companies step into the community early in the route or site development process, explore all existing routes or sites and, most importantly, build relationships with community stakeholders. Communities that are engaged in the process early on and who are allowed to participate in decisions that will impact their community have proven to be much easier to work with than those who are surprised with a formal announcement of a new project with no warning or prior engagement.
If you are telling the community about a project at a public meeting, you are starting your engagement with local stakeholders too late in the planning process. Community members and leaders will be surprised and uncomfortable in the public meeting setting. They will develop an "us against them" mentality from the onset of the project that you will not be able to overcome. We reach out to individuals, municipalities and key local stakeholders way before public meetings are held. We give them an opportunity to talk openly and freely with us in individual or small group settings that are more comfortable and personal for them. We get their feedback and comments about what they see as a best practices approach to developing a project in their community. We find out what is important and meaningful to them, what actions or areas they would like us to avoid and why. Our clients will be able to demonstrate to stakeholders and community members that they have done all that they reasonably can (full due dil igence) to find the best route, site and construction plan. We can help deliver that message in community outreach and stakeholder meetings. It is one thing to perform due diligence, but it is just as important to deliver that message to stakeholders and communities - the message that we have done all that we can to plan the best route. The other message that we need to deliver is that linear systems benefit the communities in which they are built and the risks are usually much smaller than people realize. These messages need to be conveyed to the public more clearly and more often. Through research, education and outreach we can reduce the potential for misinformation and minimize resistance.