2nd Annual Business Survey Results Reveal Pattern in Region’s Strengths
The Survey was conducted by GREDF in partnership with City of Quincy and Adams County.
Quincy and Adams County, Illinois… 62 individuals and organizations responded to the 2014 online survey conducted by the Great River Economic Development Foundation in partnership with theCity of Quincy and Adams County. The number of completed surveys is lower than the 203 received last year, but officials still see value in the data.
The 15-question survey was designed to gauge the current business environment in our region and set benchmarks for measurable growth. Trends emerged in the areas of community strengths and weaknesses, as well as business expansion plans.
“We’ll weave the positive findings from these surveys, such as our high quality of life and building availability/cost, into the outreach messages we share with site consultants and potential developers,” says Marcel Wagner, president of the Great River Economic Development Foundation. “The weaknesses identified by survey respondents tell us that we need to continue to focus on workforce development and workforce attraction.”
When asked the community’s strengths as a place to do business, the top two strengths remained the same. 79% of survey respondents chose quality of life (down from 80% in 2013) and 53% indicated cost of living was at the top of the list (down from 64%). Strengths that moved up in this year’s list include Building Availability/Cost (43%) and Community Leadership (40%).
“The Quincy area remains an economical choice for both start-ups and established companies looking to expand their operations,” says Mayor Kyle Moore. “Not only do we offer a low cost of living and high quality of life, we also offer resources and support to help businesses succeed.”
Cost of doing business took over the number one spot in Community Weaknesses at 47%, pushing workforce/labor market to the number two spot at 44%. While the local cost of doing business is competitive, comments indicated that room for improvement exists when it comes to the State of Illinois. Workforce development is a national issue and will continue to be one of the region’s top priorities.
When asked to rate the quality and availability of workers in the area on a scale from one to seven with seven being the highest/most favorable: 56% of respondents have a favorable opinion of the quality of workers in the area (down 7% from 2013) and 64% of respondents are neutral/positive when it comes to availability of workers in the area (down 4%).
Projected employment needs trended slightly lower in this year’s survey, although remained positive overall. 26% of respondents indicated their projected employment needs are increasing compared to 36% in 2013, while 58% report their needs as stable, up 3% from 2013. With 44% of businesses surveyed planning to expand within the next three years (no change from 2013), developing a plan to attract and train a qualified workforce is essential for continued growth.
Survey respondents indicated they are experiencing recruitment issues with the following positions or skills (2013 numbers in parentheses): Scientific/Technical 41.3% (19.7%), Skilled Production Labor 32.6% (26.5%), Marketing/Sales 19.5% (17.6%), Unskilled Production Labor 17.3% (21%), Administrative 17.3% (10.8%) and Management 10.8% (12.9%). Other in-demand positions and skills include IT/programming, accounting and industrial maintenance/electricians.
This year, two questions were added to the survey to ascertain succession planning within area organizations. 40% of respondents have a succession plan in place, 24% do not have a plan, but indicated they will need to fill positions made available due to retirement in the next 5 years and 11% do not have a plan, but also do not plan to fill the positions.
“Proactive and targeted business retention and recruitment are key to the economic future of our region,” says Les Post, chairman of the Adams County Board. “We look forward to using the findings from the survey to focus the work we do with our partners in economic development and better address the challenges and opportunities the business community faces.”
Future surveys are planned to track the progress of economic development efforts.