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Stakeholder Engagement in Environmentally Sensitive Economic Development Projects

South Carolina Law Review

June 2, 2015

Nexsen Pruet attorney Leighton Lord and NP Strategy's Heather Matthews co-authored an article entitled, "Stakeholder Engagement in Environmentally Sensitive Economic Development Projects" that was published by the South Carolina Law Review.

The South Carolina Law Review Symposium, "Water “Law-gged” The Muddy Relationship Between Water Law, the Environment, and Economic Development" was held earlier in the year and included Lord as a panelist. The session was called Water, Economic Development, and the Law: What Business Needs from Law and the Relationship between Economic Development and the Environment.

An excerpt from the Law Review article:


Stakeholder engagement is an increasingly common and important exercise of modern corporate social responsibility.1 Nowhere is stakeholder engagement more important than in economic development projects which, by their nature, typically involve a new facility or operational change in a community, thereby impacting stakeholders. The impacted stakeholders increase greatly in number and intensity of interest when the project has environmental or *626 resource use implications. This paper will outline the key aspects of stakeholder engagement planning and implementation and will suggest some best practices.


If the reader remembers nothing else from this paper, the author hope you will remember that no matter how good your stakeholder engagement plan is, and how well that plan is implemented, it may fail to reach the objectives for which it was put into place. Stakeholders can and will surprise you. That said, stakeholder engagement not only likely fails, but could also prove counterproductive, without a plan. If you do not have a plan, your opponents will certainly have one for you. This paper will set forth how to develop a plan, how to implement that plan, and how to evaluate that plan. But first, some key definitions.

See more from the University of South Carolina Law Review.

Leighton Lord is a former chair of Nexsen Pruet, a partner in the Real Estate and Economic Development Practice Groups and Managing Director of NP Strategy where he and Heather Matthews oversee the operations of the business communications consulting firm. NPS+ works in in the areas of community assessment, crisis management, media relations, message development, project launch and stakeholder management.