The results of a University Place survey aimed to measure business development and satisfaction in the city gives a positive outlook for the local economy and a record high satisfaction of services rendered by the City of University Place.
About 20 percent of licensed businesses in University Place responded to a survey to help the city’s Economic Development Office get an idea of business within the city and feedback regarding projects offered by the city. Participants were asked to share data that serves as a waypoint for the shifting nature of firms in the city, and a perspective for future strategic economic development. The results indicate a growing economy and high satisfaction with the services available from the city, as businesses plan to remain and expand in University Place.
From the companies that responded, 79 percent are planning to expand their workforce within the next two years. “We want to make sure that the services we are providing are relevant,” says City Director of Economic Development and Assistant City Manager Mariza Craig. Based on the results, a vision for upcoming programs like a potential workforce program to aid businesses in finding workers is next on the agenda for the Office of Economic Development.
A positive surprise that Craig and Economic Development Specialist Becky Metcalf encountered when reviewing the results was the high satisfaction with services offered by the city, as 91 percent of respondents reported that they are “satisfied” and “very satisfied” with the available resources. That is the highest reported level of satisfaction yet.
“It may be because we improved our outreach,” says Craig. “We have monthly e-newsletters, we've been conducting site visits, and if the economy and businesses are doing well, it generally translates to a high satisfaction.”
Roughly half of the businesses in University Place are home-based (53 percent), with storefronts making up the remaining 47 percent, yet both sides were equally eager to participate in the survey and share their insights.
A surprising find was that only 56 percent of the responding businesses have an up-to-date website, meaning that they are at risk of losing customers who rely on a web presence. By the lack of a quality website, companies also sacrifice business-to-business interactions by not partaking in commercial transactions conducted on the Internet.
“We are probably going to brainstorm and figure out how we bridge that gap in service, whether it's doing special workshops to encourage our business owners or more targeted information. We will try to address it,” says Craig.
From all business surveyed, almost half (48 percent) have been part of the University Place community for 10 years or longer, and 89 percent plan to stay in their current location. About 11 percent of business owners plan to relocate to reduce costs or add space, yet Craig remains hopeful for the economic future of the city.
“In the next five years, we have some development in our major commercial areas that have just been waiting to happen,” she says, referring to the senior housing developing project, and bringing the private business community together in the town center.
“We're always here. Please call us, we are here to connect you with the right location, get you the information you need and help the business community,” says Metcalf, and hopes that existing business and new companies settling in University Place will reach out with for information and guidance.