Community Development: The Tools You Need
Community development refers to the process of involving members of a residential and business community in plans to enhance and optimize key areas for the benefit of all who live and work there. Community development projects generally involve identifying and showcasing a community’s strengths or using these strengths in novel ways to enhance the vibrancy of the community and its attractiveness to investors and workers.Ultimately, the goal of community development is threefold:
- Citizen satisfaction: Make the community as livable, equitable and vibrant as possible for residents by optimizing infrastructure and services through community development projects and by integrating resident input into decisions about municipal services
- Attract investors and workers: Make the community attractive to investors and potential labour to keep the community competitive and to promote prosperity
- Support for businesses: Create supportive business infrastructure to allow local businesses to thrive and to keep the community competitive
Community Development: Main Street Projects
One of the key foci of community development projects is the revitalization of Main Street areas,including waterfront development, tourism initiatives, community hubs, green spaces and parks. Main Street revitalization projects focus on improving and developing:
- The health of businesses
- The availability of services for residents
- Downtown amenities and infrastructure, including maintenance and restoration of heritage buildings, parks, resident hubs and accessibility ramps and elevators, among other projects
To know what residents want, what they are willing to pay for, and what help businesses need, requires insight from the right tools.
These 3 tools — a citizen satisfaction survey, a tax survey and a Business Retention and Expansion program (BR+E) — are useful for knowing what community development projects your community most needs, wants, and is willing to pay for through their taxes.
1. Citizen Satisfaction Survey
A citizen satisfaction survey is an indispensable tool for finding out what your residents really think about municipal services, and for finding out what new services and projects they would like to have funded as part of community development initiatives.
But not just any citizen satisfaction survey will provide the meaningful input you need.
You need a real-time survey that targets residents from different sections of the population and which asks targeted questions.
MDB Insight’s Citizen Satisfaction IQTM, will give you:
- more representative results: this means targeting both mobiles and landlines for wider catchment
- richer information from more targeted questions, so residents are more likely to participate because the process won’t take as long to complete
- information on resident priorities through deriving importance of these priorities. This is preferable to traditional methods that only ask about importance; you need to know which community development projects local residents are most interested in and supportive of
- analysis of information. Unfiltered residents’ responses are collated, analysed, and presented in user-friendly formats to make community development planning easier
Traditional citizen satisfaction surveys only scratch the surface; more sophisticated survey instruments give you better data to use to plan community development projects that will ultimately keep your residents happy. Plus, the data that you get from such a survey doubles as the evidence you need to allocate your budget resources.
2. Tax Survey
The most useful tax survey will:
- Tell you what resident priorities are
- Tell you how much they are willing to pay to see particular municipal projects get done
- Give insight into the overlap between what residents want and what they are willing to pay for
Like the citizen survey, shorter, more targeted questions asked of a more representative sample of residents will give you the information — and the confidence — you need to include specific community development projects in your budget.
MDB Insight’s Tax Sensitivity CalculatorTM takes the guesswork out of tax planning and allows municipalities to prove their impact.
Together, these tools will give you input from your residents so their voices are integrated into the planning and implementing of community development projects.
BR+E programs assess the health of the businesses in your community.
Thriving businesses are key to keeping your community competitive.
The information from a nuanced BR+E program will give you insight into:
- What businesses are thriving. Because you know they don’t need urgent attention, you can focus your primary efforts elsewhere.
- What businesses are struggling. A sound BR+E program will provide analysis and recommendations for helping these businesses by connecting them to programs, supports, tools and resources.
Traditional BR+E programs often fall short of user expectations because they typically take too long to administer, and to collate and analyse the results. By the time the dataset is complete the information may already be outdated.
Look for a real-time BR+E program — such as MDB Insight’s Triage BR+ETM, which has a proven track record to get the job done, and which will give you relevant, up-to-date information that will feed directly into your community development strategies.
Find the Right Community Development Solution for Your Community
The right tools will make your job of planning and implementing community development projects much easier. And the right tools won’t take too much time or provide outdated data. Real-time data ensures that you have the information you need when you need it to make sound community development decisions.
To learn more about how MDB Insight partners with municipalities to find community development solutions, download this infographic: