City preparing survey of local businesses

ThisWeek Community News – Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Grove City officials are putting the final touches on the city’s first-ever survey of local businesses.

The business survey was developed as a supplement to the city’s biennial survey of its residents, conducted since 1992, Grove City spokesman Don Walters said.

“We’ve been able to throw in different, specialized questions about what we need,” Walters said.

The city’s growth in the business sector during the last 20 years caused Grove City leaders to consider the benefits of dedicating a survey to the subject.

“Businesses provide 71 percent of the city’s revenue,” Walters said. “We have over 30,000 residents, and it’s time for us to start talking to the 1,600 businesses and to develop as good a feedback mechanism (for them) as we have with the residents.”

City officials are paying Columbus-based research company Saperstein Associates about $22,000 to help develop the questions and administer the survey, Walters said.

The city is expected to mail the surveys to a representative sample of businesses early next month.

“It’s going to be a real valuable tool for us for lots of reasons,” Walters said.

In addition to learning how well the city caters to businesses, the city will collect email addresses that will serve as a starting point for a new electronic newsletter Grove City is developing for businesses.

Questions will cover city services, business tax incentives, traffic flow, zoning and the efficiency of the city’s development department.

“If they’re happy, more will come,” Walters said.

The survey also will cover a handful of questions relating to the Grove City Center for Higher Education.

Columbus State Community College president David Harrison asked Grove City to include some questions relating to the development of the learning center in order to determine whether a full-time facility would be warranted.

Meanwhile, evening classes for the learning center are being held in the South-Western Career Academy, 4750 Big Run South Road.

The survey will ask businesses about their employees’ educational needs and whether they’d be willing to provide tuition reimbursement or flexible work schedules so workers could attend relevant classes. Answers will help the learning center meet the needs of the Grove City community, Columbus State spokesman Mike Snider has said.

Walters said the timing of the city’s business survey was a stroke of luck in discovering the educational needs of local organizations.

“The fortunate thing is the tuition thing came up before (the survey) hit the field,” he said. “Since we’re talking to them, we thought, ‘What a great time to hit this tuition question.'”

Walters sent his final draft of the survey questions to Saperstein Associates Thursday, Dec. 2. He expects the survey to be finalized later this month and distributed in early January. Businesses will have about a month to respond, with results expected in an additional month.

City officials have discussed repeating the business survey every four years, Walters said.