Survey underway in Cassville

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Over the next month, Cassville businesses will be invited to participate in an on-line survey that will help the City of Cassville and the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) assess the local workforce climate.

"Business retention is our number one goal," said Eugene Dilbeck, Cassville economic development director. "We will focus on local businesses first. We want to keep what is here and help those businesses grow.

"It is critical that our economy grows so that people can raise their families here and we can support the businesses in our community," said Dilbeck.

Last month, Dilbeck met Jasen Jones, Workforce Investment Board (WIB) for Southwest Missouri chief executive officer, at the Missouri Arkansas Partnership meeting that was held at the Barry County Courthouse. Jones shared information with Dilbeck about the WIB and services available through the organization.

"One of the services offered is a survey of the current workforce environment in a community," said Dilbeck. "All of the services are free for communities that want to participate."

Dilbeck shared the information he received from Jones with the IDC Board, which agreed that the WIB services would be a good economic development resource.

"The WIB will conduct the survey," said Dilbeck. "We prepared a list of selected businesses that are large, medium and small employers. The city will never see the individual survey responses. We will only see the final report."

Around 100 local businesses have been invited to participate in the survey, which will be called Cassville Comments. The businesses will be asked to complete an on-line survey that includes eight questions.

"They will be asked about their facilities and equipment, the products that they offer, the number of employees they have and employment trends," said Dilbeck. "They will be asked about revenue trends, environmental issues and e-commerce and their use of technology."

The survey will also gather information on what city services businesses take advantage of and needs that businesses have that are not being addressed by city services. Another survey question will ask for a business assessment and information on the health of a particular business or industry.

"The base of any community is jobs," said Dilbeck. "If people don't have jobs, they don't have money to spend in the stores, on their homes and in other areas. The city is negatively impacted by the loss of revenue, because it affects the city's ability to provide services.

"We will be looking for warning signs of job loss and things that need to be addressed by the city and the IDC Board," said Dilbeck. "We will also look for the potential for job expansion and job creation."

In order to introduce Cassville Comments, Cassville Mayor Tracy Holle and IDC Chairman Stan Kelley sent letters to all of the businesses that will be invited to participate in the survey. IDC Board members also called each business to invite them to participate in the project.

On Nov. 13, Gary Box, WIB business retention coordinator, will begin calling the businesses to direct owners and managers to the on-line survey. Box will also answer questions about the project.

The WIB has estimated that it will take around six weeks to receive all of the survey responses. After the responses have been received, the WIB will prepare a preliminary report that will be shared with the IDC Board and city officials, said Dilbeck.

Later, a final report will be prepared that will be presented to the community during a public meeting that will be hosted by the WIB. That report will also be sent to each of the participating businesses and placed on the City of Cassville website.

"All information will be kept totally confidential," said Dilbeck. "Only the final report will be received by the city, so no one company will be exposed."

As the Cassville Comments project is completed, Box will be available to visit businesses that are interested in learning more about services provided through the WIB.

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