The Power of Community - William E. Oliver

Point of View
3 min readFeb 3, 2021
Image from Unsplash by Shane Rounce

Public-private partnerships are collaborations between a government agency and a private company that can be used to finance, build, and operate projects which benefit the community. William E. Oliver talks aboutthe interesting partnership between the Y and Parks and Recreation department in Charlotte. A strong believer in the power of community, William is an agile, visionary leader and an ambassador for positive change.

Will, you previously shared your extensive experience in building PPPs — Public-Private Partnerships. You speak the language of both corporates and communities — allowing you a holistic perspective. Can you share your views on the concept of ‘The Power of Community’?

“A huge part of the Power of Community is the ability to raise all people, all persons. It’s like the old saying, ‘A rising tide raises all ships’. What makes a public-private partnership successful is if they are able to communicate well among each other. I am going to use an example of the Y and their partnership with the Parks and Recreation department at the county. Their partnership was the perfect example of both parties benefitting from the situation.

“When you look at what it takes to create a PPP, it’s a lot of heavy lifting. As you can imagine, there are lawyers, risk professionals and community leaders all brought in to solve a problem or close a gap. In the case of the Y, and Parks and Recreation, there were many such issues that needed to be discussed. Safety and security came in first. Clients of the Y were going to be using resources that belonged to Parks and Recreation — Who was going to be there to monitor and keep the children safe? What kind of security will be implemented? These are the kinds of questions thatarose.

“Having come into the situation from a corporate standpoint, I was able to have open conversations with both sides. I was honest with the Parks and Recreation team about what was expected of them — maintenance and upkeep of the facilities whether there were 20 people using them, or 200. This opened up an honest and more inclusive dialogue. For example, 50% of the young members of the Y are female. These young girls had to travel to a different county to play soft-ball, whilst the boys used the baseball fields at the Y. The PPP changed that — the girls can now play closer to their homes in the space provided by Parks and Recreation. This partnership brought ease and equity into this equation.

“In a situation like this, one must also look at cost savings in a corporate sense, it’s like economies of scale. Both these organizations needed each other — both benefitted from the partnership. Parks and Recreation had vacant recreational spaces, and the Y needed more space — it worked out perfectly. This is what PPPs are about — creating opportunities in the community. The clients of the Y are not paying extra, and the Parks and Recreation team is preventing their space from being under- or un-utilized. It’s a win-win situation. We were fortunate that each step of the way, conversations were kept honest and open. That’s what made the whole partnership possible, and successful.”

This sounds like a beneficial partnership indeed. Thanks, Will.

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Point of View

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