Jonesboro Chamber Releases Survey On Economic Future

by Michael Wilkey ( 52 views 

The results of a months-long look at Jonesboro’s economic future has provided a lot of detailed information for officials to digest, a Jonesboro Regional Chamber of Commerce official said Wednesday.

The 17-page summary from Austin, Texas-based Avalanche Consulting was created after an online survey was placed on the chamber’s website in April 2015.

Mark Young, who serves as president and CEO for the Jonesboro chamber, said the information gleaned from the survey was useful.

“It was very positive. We had great participation with nearly 1,850 people,” Young said.

According to the survey, participants were asked a variety of questions including how long they have lived in Jonesboro and why they moved to the Craighead County town.

At least 40% of the people who completed the survey said they had moved to Jonesboro in the past 15 years, while 69% said they moved to Jonesboro for either a job or an education opportunity.

Another 18% said they moved to Jonesboro to be closer to family, the survey noted.

People were asked their opinions on how satisfied they were on education, career, infrastructure and quality of life.

The responses were measured from 1 to 5, with 1 being “not well,” 3 being average and 5 being “very well.”

According to the survey, universities, health care and family friendliness were the only categories to receive a “very well” rating.

However, most of the issues, including cost of living, appeal to young professionals and future economic growth potential scored between average and very well.

Also, the vast majority of participants said the city’s economic development goals should be recruiting and expanding new industry as well as improving the quality of life for residents.

Individuals were also asked which industries they considered “most desirable for future Jonesboro economic development.”

The top five were agriculture (569 votes), software/IT/telecommunications (460 votes), healthcare (449 votes), clean energy (401 votes) and distribution and logistics (339 votes).

The survey also provided constructive criticism.

Transportation and infrastructure was the top weakness mentioned in the survey by a nearly 2-to-1 margin over the nearest issue (international presence and job opportunities).

Also cited as weaknesses in the survey were entrepreneurial mindset, lifestyle and government and political leadership, the survey noted.

According to the survey, participants were also asked to grade from A to F the city’s economic performance over the past five years.

At least 21% gave Jonesboro an “A”, 51% gave the city a “B” and 24% gave the city a “C”, according to the survey.

The vast majority (93%) said economic development and job creation were either a high or medium priority in the city.

Young said the survey looked at many different factors and that many of those factors influence economic development.

The survey is part of an ongoing project to look at economic development in Jonesboro. Young said he expects the overall plan to be done by early fall.

The Jonesboro Economic Development Corporation and Jonesboro Unlimited are privately funding the overall project, officials said in April.