Jon Ross is a Principal of MPSA Partners. He and his partner, P. Buxton Williams, operate MPSA Partners, a consulting/professional services firm based in Chicago. The firm has three core practices: Parking Management Solutions; Infrastructure Planning, Economic Development and Privatization; and Strategic Alliances, Business Development and Advisory Services.

EXPO1000 - You have three distinct yet somewhat related practices. Talk a little about each of them.

JON ROSS - In parking management, we assist city and municipal governments in identifying alternate revenue sources, increasing parking revenues/efficiencies and enhancing government-to-citizen interactions. In our infrastructure planning and privatization practice, we develop and operate privatized and public-private business models for parking, economic development and related areas. And our strategic alliances practice helps growth enterprises build successful partnerships - including with the public sector.

EXPO1000 - That sounds like a mouthful.

JON ROSS - It's quite simple, really. We're management experts whose focus is on parking and related areas. What makes us unusual and unique in the industry is that we don't sell hardware or software. Everything we offer is intangible - ideas, experience, and intellectual capital. We have nearly 50 years of experience in parking management, public-private partnerships, IT management, strategic planning, marketing and communications and public affairs. We've even been contracted to write the Parking Management chapter of a book for transportation planners to be published by McGraw-Hill.

EXPO1000 - Let's take your practice areas one at a time. Why do I need an industry expert to assist with parking management and operations?

JON ROSS - Parking management is more than just maintaining parking meters, issuing tickets and collecting fines. Parking operations leaders - in the public and private sector -- need to understand what's happening in their parking system, so they know how many parking spaces and meters they need, where to place them, what to charge for parking and for tickets, and how best to set up a system that optimizes collection. They need best practices to run their operations optimally. The experience industry experts bring to the table - making system design recommendations, assisting in project management/implementation, identifying new sources of revenue, developing RFPs, identifying qualified vendors and evaluating RFP responses - helps them make those decisions to maximize cost efficiency and return on investment.

EXPO1000 - What kinds of engagements does your parking management practice encompass?

JON ROSS - Currently, we are assisting a top-20 city develop a parking management infrastructure plan to steer development and implementation activities for the next five to ten years. We analyzed the city's infrastructure needs, screened possible solutions providers, wrote the RFP and reviewed the vendor bids to recommend the best-qualified partner for the city's solution. Now we're the industry expert to assist the City and the solutions vendor in the new system's implementation.

This kind of work is important to cities, because, especially in a down economy, the public sector has to do more with less. Government needs to generate new sources of funding and resources that don't strain taxpayers and customers. Parking management is therefore imperative to enhancing revenues to pay for needed services.

EXPO1000 - Now to your infrastructure planning and privatization practice. What does that cover, and how is parking management involved?

JON ROSS - To us "reinventing government" means finding new ways to make government in general - and economic development programs in particular -- more competitive and business-friendly. In many cases, privatization is a useful option to make that happen.

Parking management is at the core of today's economic development programs. Virtually every economic development initiative has to live up to a wide range of transportation, traffic and people management concerns. For example, many cities have methodologies that require a certain number of parking spaces or equivalent public transit services for every thousand square feet of land developed. Getting that right requires not just parking management expertise but knowledge of public policy, familiarity with public financing options like TIFs and other tax incentive programs and the ability to forge and manage alliances between the public and private sector to align all the key stakeholders. So our work in infrastructure planning and privatization has some elements that relate to parking and others that don't.

For example, with our partner, Clancy Systems, we've developed a full-scale business model around operating privatized parking authorities for municipalities. That model, while it differs for each city, obviously covers parking management and operations. But it also moves into significant long-term economic development initiatives once the parking and traffic management infrastructure is in place and builds in ongoing return on investment programs and measures.

EXPO1000 - You said your Strategic Alliances, Business Development and Advisory Services practice helps growth enterprises build successful partnerships. Who are these "growth enterprises?"

JON ROSS - A growth enterprise is any entity - including any part of government - that operates entrepreneurially and uses alliances/partnerships to do so. In today's economy, a lot of agencies and entities in government operate very much in this fashion.

This area of our business works in core areas with small companies and growth entities: partnership development, strategic and business planning, assistance in fund development, marketing, public affairs and related areas. In fact, we're working with an Eastern European-based firm whose startup activities were funded by government, but is moving toward total privatization. We helped the firm identify key variables it needed to build its business and then wrote the business plan it's now using to attract partners in the U.S. and Europe and obtain capital.

EXPO1000 - These are highly specialized areas of expertise, aren't they?

JON ROSS - We're bringing more of a business process expert's perspective to the table, especially in areas like parking management. But the way business between the public and private sectors is done has changed. Government has to behave more like the private sector in many ways, and for-profit companies need to be responsive to more issues and stakeholders than ever to do business well with government and nonprofits. So we're striking the balance to bring both types of expertise together.

MPSA Partners
1107 Superior Street
Oak Park, IL 60302

Phone: 773-368-1153 or