Horizon Group Properties

The Challenge

Overcoming a skeptical community and a much larger competitor to win outlet mall development rights

In 2013, Horizon Group Properties found that Tulsa, Oklahoma was ripe for an outlet mall development. After publicly announcing their plan for a mall, their largest competitor, Simon Group Properties, announced that they would also build in Tulsa. However, the city was only large enough to feasibly support one outlet mall. In addition, a vocal minority of citizens opposed aspects of the development plan. Horizon needed to build support among citizens and public officials in order to become the sole outlet mall in Tulsa.

The Solution

Meeting with influencers and overcoming the competition by personally engaging with the citizens of Tulsa

Hawthorne Strategy Group hosted an open forum for concerned citizens and used it to correct misconceptions, address concerns, develop a dialogue with the community, and build grassroots support. Strategic messaging concerning job creation and economic development helped convince unsure citizens of the plan’s merits. After researching and discovering that Simon’s development would infringe on a beloved outdoor trail area, Hawthorne identified local environmental groups and offered suggestions regarding messaging and positioning. Team members from Hawthorne and Horizon met with members of the Tulsa city council, the Mayor, and key economic development officials to discuss their development plans and position themselves as Tulsa’s top choice for an outlet mall. The meetings allowed them to express concerns with the Simon development infringing on the outdoor trail area and Simon’s clear lack of commitment to the citizens of Tulsa.

The Results

Horizon wins the support of the Mayor and community

Through strategic outreach to key influencers and meetings with local officials, Horizon received a vote of confidence from the Mayor, the city council, and other key stakeholders. Grassroots organizing efforts and clear messaging resulted in enthusiastic support from a previously skeptical public. Where Horizon’s public forum was a success, Simon’s competing forum became a sounding board for concerns against the project, and Horizon emerged as the more environmentally friendly development. Hawthorne also obtained front-page coverage in support of Horizon’s proposed mall in the Tulsa World newspaper. Horizon has continued moving through the pre-construction process with the full support of the community and local government. Simon has since moved their development plans to another town.

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