It’s the Community, Stupid!

by Ron Dwyer-Voss on June 27, 2012

Tagged as: Gifts / Hospitality / Association / Local Economy / Land/Environment

The presidential race in 2012 is increasing attention and interest in local economies and small business.  So far the debate has focused on perceived economic drivers such as tax incentives and an educated workforce.  These have their place, but a three-year study by the Knight Foundation and Gallup shows that local officials and community groups do better to focus in three areas: 

  • Increasing the Welcome Factor – how well does a community welcome and embrace all types of people
  • Aesthetics – how nice does the community look
  • Social Opportunities – how strong and plentiful are the opportunities to bump into and associate with other people

These are the three most common and powerful drivers of “community attachment.”  Community attachment is how good we feel about where we live.  Sounds like warm and fuzzies?  Like frosting on the cake?  Like luxury over basics?

Not really.  It turns out that economic productivity is dramatically influenced by community attachment.  Gallup first learned this in their study of corporations, organizations and schools.  The more people liked and felt good about and were engaged with their company, organization or school, the higher their performance.  In companies that translated to higher profits.  In schools that translated into higher test scores.  Directly.

In cities and towns, whether Aberdeen, South Dakota or Miami, Florida, the consistently strongest drivers of community attachment were welcoming, aesthetics and social opportunities.

So local officials and community organizations can influence their economy be increasing community attachment.  This appears to be best done by improving the welcoming environment, creating abundant positive social opportunities and paying attention to arts, streetscapes, parks and other physical amenities.

Re-posted by permission from Pacific Community Solutions. Home page photo: mugley