My hometown of Richfield, Minnesota, was a feature story in Quirk’s May 1989 issue, “Telephone survey measures city’s quality of life.” It had been over seven years since I had moved away from the Minneapolis suburb, so I was excited to read the article. Richfield had a great philosophy:
“So just as a well-established business must retain its loyal customers while attracting new ones to promote growth, the City of Richfield must maintain a service level to satisfy its long-time residents and new commercial development to maintain its fiscal health.”
According to the article, Richfield was doing an excellent job, 98% approved of the quality of life in Richfield, with 47% rating it “excellent.” Three out of four residents approved of the job the mayor and city council were doing. In 1990, Richfield began an aggressive redevelopment program, and was quite successful with community support.
The Eugene Area Chamber of Commerce and Eugene Water & Electric Board (EWEB) collaborated on measuring the pulse of Eugene’s business community and contributing to a better understanding of issues facing businesses. Lockwood Research conducted the baseline Eugene Business Climate survey in February 2013, and the tracking survey was conducted nine months later in November. While the population for the Eugene study is business owners and decision-makers, rather than households like the Richfield survey, both studies touched on the City’s efforts to attract new business.
Redevelopment was a key issue when, in 2002, Richfield’s mayor won by a wide margin. Why? Because Richfield was successful in recruiting Best Buy, then the fastest-growing national electronics retailer. Best Buy opened their $160 million headquarters in Richfield in 2003, with 4,500 employees. There was only strong opposition by one automobile dealer, and the owners of the other 82 homes and businesses on the site sold their property without a fight.
Eugene, on the other hand, leaves me feeling perplexed. Our community seems to be stuck in a rut and unable to put aside differences for the greater good. I can’t see 82 home and business owners willingly relocate for the sake of redevelopment. The business community’s approval rating of the mayor and city council is dismal. According to the most recent Eugene Business Climate survey, 46% of the sample feels City of Eugene government is unsupportive of local businesses, compared to a 26% unsupportive rating for Lane County, and 24% for the State.
I think it would be nice if Eugene could adopt Richfield’s philosophy from 1989.
The infographic below summarizes the findings of the Eugene Business Climate survey conducted nine months apart in 2013. You can download it here EBC Infographic PDF.