Project Hometown Citizens Committee (PHCC), 2006-2007

A Case Study



Johnson served as executive director of the Project Hometown Citizens Committee (PHCC), which successfully advocated for the approval of $1.1 billion in funding the construction and renovation of a new Events Center, a new Performing Arts Center, and the Florida Citrus Bowl in downtown Orlando. PHCC was formed to advocate for, and educate various entities and the general public on, the 2006 one-penny increase of the tourist development tax for Orange County, Florida - specifically, issues relating to the increase including the promotion of tourism; the development, design, location and financing of a new performing arts center, a new sports and entertainment arena, and renovations to the Citrus Bowl.

This effort involved intricate negotiations between the City of Orlando and Orange County to fund the $1.1 billion project with several votes before each Board over a prolonged period. The challenge was to encourage and promote the benefits of these Community Venues to the City Council and the County Commission, including economic development, job creation, education, arts and entertainment opportunities, and a revitalized downtown area.

After a series of meetings with business and community leaders, tourism officials, chambers of commerce, local economic development commissions, key stakeholders, citizens and the media, Johnson developed educational materials for outreach purposes and provided targeted materials to the above mentioned audiences. The organization engaged in direct mail, phone calls, television advertising, radio advertising and an interactive website, and developed and printed electronic brochures and newsletters for use in efforts to support the Community Venues. All materials were produced in both English and Spanish.

Further, PHCC spearheaded the advocacy grassroots campaign through rallies, town hall meetings, generating personal e-mails, phone calls and meetings into the Orlando City Council and Orange County Board of Commissioners, opinion editorials, letters to the editor and talk radio. The campaign’s strength remained in its ability to brand all three projects as one initiative. The slogan, ‘Do Them All, Do Them Now, Do Them Right’ enabled each separate entity to work together thus avoiding a race to secure the most support at the detriment to the others. Each project appealed to a different audience (arts, sports, entertainment). This strategy allowed for one unified message, one awareness campaign, and one fundraising mechanism.

After hearing the intense and broad support from the community, both the City Council and County Commission voted in July 2007 to approve the historic partnership between the City, County, State, public and private entities.