We have all heard various business jargon over the years. Terms such as “meritocracy”, “food- chain”, “mission critical” or the dreaded “downsizing” come and go in popularity. I recently heard a great term which seems appropriate for current events in our community.
Coopetition: the act of cooperation between competing companies; businesses that engage in both competition and cooperation are said to be in coopetition. Certain businesses gain an advantage by using a judicious mixture of cooperation with suppliers, customers and firms producing complementary or related products.
I was recently privileged to attend a Kentlands Retail District Roundtable, spearheaded by Ruthzaly Weich, Board Chair of Kentlands Community Foundation. Attendees included representatives from Kimco Realty, BF Saul, DPZ, MedImmune, the City of Gaithersburg and members of the architectural design committees of the Kentlands and Lakelands residential communities. The goal was to work toward architectural cohesiveness between the pending developments coming to Downtown Kentlands. The outcome was so much more! As brainstorming took place, it became clear that many topics related to long term planning issues of importance to our community still need to be addressed and can be best accomplished with a joint approach.
For those not familiar, both Kimco and BF Saul are extremely large corporations who are competitors in the commercial development space in the DMV and beyond. Kimco is the new owner of the Market Square property to the south of Kentlands Blvd. BF Saul is the long-time owner of the Kentlands Square property to the north of Kentlands Blvd. Both have new design plans under consideration by the City of Gaithersburg to further develop their properties. They are competitors and their tenants are competitors. However, both want a vibrant and successful business district in Kentlands which includes not only their own developments but also our Main Street. For that purpose, they will contribute their time, talent and maybe even a bit of treasure to continued participation in the Kentlands Retail District Roundtable. Likewise, DPZ and Mike Watkins are competing architectural and urban design planning firms. They have agreed to work collaboratively and pro bono on the development of long term solutions which will benefit our community for years to come. Finally, the architectural design committees from Kentlands and Lakelands have recently joined together to develop a consistent set of architectural guidelines for the live/work units on Main Street.
Coopetition is alive and well in Downtown Kentlands!