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SBJ launches economic growth survey

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A new tool aiming to measure and identify trends in the Springfield business market went live on March 27.

SBJ Publishing Inc. is partnering with H2R Market Research, Enterprise Commercial Group LLC and Classy Llama Studios LLC for an economic growth survey. The results will be available as a multimedia download package on SBJ.net, including case studies, raw data and video interviews.

“I think the time has been here for a while,” said Jennifer Jackson, Springfield Business Journal publisher. “There’s an identifiable gap in what we know and the tools we have for economic development.”

The survey covers Greene, Christian, Webster, Polk and Dallas counties, though Jackson said the focus is on the Springfield area.

Question topics include a business profile snapshot, credit and capital, income and job security, succession plans, environment, real estate, minimum wage, demographics and outlook.

“The idea, assuming this is successful, is to measure it over time and compare year-over-year and eventually have a historical average,” said Jerry Henry, co-owner and partner at H2R, the market research firm that’s conducting the survey and analyzing the collected data.

Henry said a holistic view of Springfield will help individuals in the business world express their needs and wants.

A public advisory board of over a dozen stakeholders helped H2R review the survey questions and revise the content of the 38 questions.

Tracy Kimberlin, president of the Springfield Convention & Visitors Bureau, is among the members of the board.

“I think having a baseline of where things are currently and watching to see how these change over time will be very helpful and identify trends,” he said. “We’re trying to create a baseline of what the local business community thinks on a number of various topics.”

Titus Williams, president of Enterprise Commercial Group and chairman of the public advisory board, said the survey results would give an understanding of where the community can improve and map important factors, such as quality of life and employee retention. Williams also pointed to out-of-market companies utilizing the data when considering Springfield for relocations and expansions.

“It’s not just now, but it’s asking about the perception of the future,” he said.

The public advisory board was selected with the future in mind, Jackson said.

“We started with the end result and said if the hope is that this data, if it were known, would guide and assist in economic development, then it makes sense to bring the key players in economic development to the table,” she said. “We wanted a committee that would really have the ability to engage and be heard.”

The survey is scheduled to be open through April 5. At the conclusion, H2R plans to analyze the data during the next month and reconvene with the public advisory board for additional insight.

“We’ve done similar projects all over the country for city governments, convention and visitor bureaus and state travel offices,” Henry said, referencing the city of Independence, Haywood County in North Carolina and the Cincinnati USA Regional Tourism Network.

H2R is simultaneously conducting a consumer survey to pair with the economic growth survey.

Classy Llama, an e-commerce and digital marketing agency, will be capturing the process through recorded interviews with board members about the process to give a behind-the-scenes look at how the survey was formed.

Survey results will be shared in forums and presentations in summer, said Marty Goodnight, SBJ’s associate publisher.

The baseline target for responses is 700-800, Goodnight said. The survey, available at SBJ.net/growthsurvey, is estimated to have been sent to 10,000 businesspeople, Henry said.

“We’re trying to do something that benefits the community,” Williams said.

In order to gather enough data to identify trends, Williams’ Enterprise Commercial Group signed on to sponsor the survey for five years for an undisclosed sum.

“I hope it goes for years beyond that, but five years of data will be rich,” Jackson said. “We’ll see patterns, and we’ll be able to make year-over-year comparisons and determine what’s really meaningful.”

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