1. Your private partner is not your friend. They may all be nice people, and they may have a friendly demeanor in your meetings — but they are not in your community to do you a favor. You need to look out for yourself, and be sure to verify everything they tell you.  You know the saying.
  2. The relationship will not improve over time. When the private partner first asks for your help, that’s when they’ll be most accommodating and eager to satisfy your requests. If they’re difficult to work with from the start, or you’re not sure you’re getting the whole story, do not assume things will get better once you all get to know each other better.
  3. They’re making money, and you can have some of it. Don’t believe “we’re barely making any money on this as it is.” You need to have your list of what you want out of a project, and you need to be determined to get it. Your job is to get the best deal for your community, not to worry about their investors.
  4. They’ll only do what’s in the written agreement. No matter what you think the “understanding” is, if you don’t to push all issues to a written conclusion you’ll have to re-negotiate when you’ve lost all your leverage. You’ll get pressure from the private partner – and sometimes even the elected officials. “Let’s not hold up the deal over this small point,” they might say, or “we can figure that out on the ground once we get going.” If it’s not in black and white at the beginning, assume they’ll handle it how they want to.
  5. The first written agreement is unlikely to be the last. Nothing ever goes completely to plan. But to “re-negotiate” when issues arise doesn’t mean to give the other side concessions without getting something in return.

Your private partner will bring its lawyers to the deal from the beginning. You should bring yours, too. We’d love to be at the table with you, so click here to send us an email.

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And here’s a related blog post, on how the Local Government Commission staff might look at your public private partnership.