This article was in my to do folder for blog posting but then I got so busy last week with my day job that it actually snuck out before I had time to write it. Sorry for the confusion. Anyways, it’s still an interesting article and it points out the importance of making your city a destination. Better yet it shows how university cities have a leg up on non-university cities for winning the place game. One of our goals is to find a way to fulfill the economic promise of being a university and Fort Collins provides a good example of a successful university City. We just have to script our Uniquely Kent story.
Uniquely Fort Collins
Fort Collins is an vibrant cultural and recreational center for the Northern Colorado region. Thousands of theater productions, hundreds of restaurants, dozens of art galleries, wide variety of boutique shops, and locally-owned firms make Fort Collins authentic and genuine.
The Uniquely Fort Collins industry cluster includes businesses whose products and operations contribute to the eclectic, innovative, and high quality of life in Fort Collins.
New Gallup Study Explores Link between “Emotional Connection” and Economic Growth
MIAMI – A new Gallup study explores the link between economic growth and residents’ loyalty to and passion towards where they live. According to the “Soul of the Community” study, the qualities that make people love where they live include social offerings (such as entertainment venues and places to meet), openness (how welcoming a place is) and community aesthetics (such as physical beauty and green spaces).
The first-year findings of the Gallup study, funded by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, surveyed 26 communities where Knight Foundation’s founders owned newspapers. “This is a new way of looking at how engaged residents create successful communities,” said Paula Ellis, vice president for strategic initiatives at Knight Foundation. “The data provide new insights to leaders focused on improving the long-term economic well-being of their communities beyond the immediate challenges of the financial crisis.”
Warren Wright, managing partner for Gallup said: “The study is especially important in the current economic crisis because beyond addressing immediate needs, communities will have to make smart choices to direct resources to areas that have the greatest impact on engaging the community.”
The communities vary in population size, economic levels and how urban or rural they are. Gallup randomly surveyed a representative sample of nearly 14,000 adults from Feb.1 through April 27, 2008, by phone. The following communities were included in the survey: Aberdeen, S.D., Akron, Ohio, Biloxi, Miss., Boulder, Colo., Bradenton, Fla., Charlotte, N.C., Columbia, S.C., Columbus, Ga., Detroit, Mich., Duluth, Minn., Fort Wayne, Ind., Gary, Ind., Grand Forks, N.D., Lexington, Ky., Long Beach, Calif., Macon, Ga., Miami, Fla., Milledgeville, Ga., Myrtle Beach, S.C., Palm Beach, Fla., Philadelphia, Pa., San Jose, Calif., St. Paul, Minn., State College, Pa., Tallahassee, Fla., Wichita, Kan.
The study measured residents’ emotional connection to where they live and compared that to the communities’ GDP growth over the past five years. The findings show a significant correlation. Over three years, the researchers will analyze the trends to prove whether emotional connection drives economic growth, or the other way around.
Within a smaller microcosm, such as a company, Gallup has been able to show that increasing employee emotional connection will indeed lead to improved financial performance of the company.
The study finds that it generally takes at least three to six years for residents to feel highly engaged in their community. However, there are actions that communities can take to engage residents early after they have moved in. Focusing on helping new residents connect to others in their area can enhance their connection and make them want to stay and say good things about the community.
The study found that in some of the larger communities such as Miami, Philadelphia and Detroit, the key emotional connector was openness (the sense of welcoming to diverse people). “This is important to know in a large city that has struggled to achieve its full potential in attracting diverse newcomers,” said Matt Bergheiser, Knight Foundation program director for Philadelphia.
In Tallahassee, social offerings are key. “With two major universities, and as Florida’s state capital, we have many opportunities to create more social offerings for our residents,” said Mike Pate, Knight Foundation program director for Tallahassee. “The proposed arts and entertainment district in the Gaines Street corridor is one example. These data serve as another important call to action.”
Knight Foundation community program directors are sharing the study’s findings with community leaders and citizens. They hope to use the data to help create transformational change in their communities.
Gallup and Knight Foundation will conduct the second wave of the survey in spring 2009. The additional data will help show the impact of the economic crisis on emotional community-citizen engagement.