Requests for Proposals can help communities attract top redevelopment talent

While RFPs great at getting the word out, communities must ensure each RFP is of high quality.

Many communities use Requests for Proposals (RFPs) to solicit services for a variety of activities. But this same process can be an effective method to attract potential developers to sites that may pose challenges or are not widely known in the development community.

 RFPs can be a great advertising vehicle as well as guide the type and intensity of development a community wants to see. But to get the kind of feedback necessary a community needs to ensure it uses an effective RFP process.

 To generate good RFPs that are driven by community-based organizations, communities must describe the type and intensity of development desired. Well-written RFPs will also have a defined time to submit proposals, have a general purpose and information section that describes the project site and proposed activities. Topics such as zoning and master plan language may also be included.

 Working as Michigan State University Extension educator, I reviewed an RFP prepared by a Detroit community group that included its mission and vision statement and challenged responders to submit a reuse plan consistent with its overall organizational goals.

 Additional features of quality RFPs are a site history and general characteristics. This section may include the number and condition of structures located on the site as well as the size and dimensions of the property.

The next section is the preparation of the proposal. This is the section that describes the how and where of submitting. Good RFPs will outline the minimum information that will need to be included in the submission. Examples include the business organization, experience, personnel, management summary, qualifications and references. Based on the type of project, verification of insurance can also be requested.

 The evaluation criteria should be summarized to give applicants a clear understanding of how their project will be rated. The most important criteria are the evaluation of an applicant’s experience and financial ability to implement a project. And finally, a quality RFP will end with contact information for questions and clarifications.

When done correctly, the RFP is a great way to advertise redevelopment areas and encourage new projects that are based on a well-thought out plan. They are a proactive way to attract resources to a targeted area where an overall redevelopment plan already exists.

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