Albemarle can improve its business environment, community survey results show
Published 4:11 pm Tuesday, March 9, 2021
The City of Albemarle recently released the results of its first community survey, which was completed by Albemarle residents and stakeholders last December.
The respondents were asked 10 questions which covered everything from the city’s services and quality of life to what it would look like in the future.
The city worked with the Centralina Regional Council (CRC), formerly known as Centralina Council of Governments, to create the survey, which people completed online or with a paper copy.
According to the results of the quality of life questions, the city was given high marks as a place to live (40 percent said good, 12 percent said excellent) and as a place to raise a family (38 percent said good, 11 percent said excellent).
Respondents also found Albemarle to be a nice place for outdoor recreation (39 percent good) and to retire (32 percent good).
The survey results found that the city was not a great place for people to work (36 percent said it was average, 32 percent said it was poor) or for people to own a business (also 36 percent average, 32 percent poor).
More specifically, 51 percent of respondents felt business opportunities in Albemarle were poor while 81 percent felt diversity of businesses and services were average to poor.
For quality of life characteristics, more than 80 percent of respondents said the city’s parks and open space along with its cost of living were good to average, but there was a divide when it came to feeling safe in the city: 47 percent rated it excellent to good while 50 percent rated it average to poor.
The top five areas respondents believed the city could improve on were employment opportunities, diversity of business/services, education, feelings of safety, and arts and culture activities, while the top five city services that could be improved were economic development, street maintenance and cleaning, Main Street Program and downtown development, stormwater drainage and the police department.
When asked to rank various initiatives the city was working on, the top three — labeled “very important” — were growing the economy, improving public education and revitalizing downtown. Similarly, when asked to rank priorities the city had discussed last year in order of importance, the top choice was growing the economy and job creation.
The results of the survey were first presented to the city council by CRC staff during its winter strategic planning session which took place in February.
A total of 1,366 people responded to the survey, including a high percentage of business owners and employees. Of that total, 57 percent lived in Albemarle while most of the rest either worked or went to school in the city. There was also a nice age balance with roughly half under 50 years of age and half over.
The results are being used to establish the city’s vision and mission and to inform budget priorities for the next few years, said Assistant City Manager Nyki Hardy.
“Overall these (results) will support direction setting for the city as we realize growth in population and economic opportunity,” Hardy said.