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  • Matt Moloney

Surveying success: Pioneering economic growth one response at a time

When encouraging community input in your economic development strategy, surveys are an important tool. Surveys can help establish department goals, create a sense of inclusion and become a key component of a communication strategy.

We’ll dive into how communities across the country use surveys as an important tool in their community development and economic growth.

Using surveys to establish department goals to foster economic growth

The city of Southlake, TX, is a suburb of Dallas/Fort Worth, with a population of 31,000 that is a master planned community with a 93% build out. Their focus tends to be on business retention strategies (rather than acquisition) and they use surveys as a key piece of business engagement.

“We do an annual business climate survey and I think that that helps to drive a lot of our work and I think it does help business owners feel that their needs are getting answered." Stephanie Bernard, Economic Development Specialist for city of Southlake, TX

These surveys help to develop their department goals and establish plans on how to best support their current business communities and foster economic growth. Most recently, they discovered in their last survey that it is difficult to find employees in Southlake to work retail and other hourly jobs. They used a round table to highlight this finding and engage their business leaders in developing innovative solutions to this challenge. 

By identifying these types of issues through a survey, their economic development department can be proactive in addressing these top priorities of business owners. It also ensures their department goals align with what will truly make a difference for their local economy.

Bludot CRM Survey - Economic Growth

Using surveys to distribute grants

As the fastest growing city in Maine, Westbrook uses surveys to ensure all of their residents and local businesses are included in their development plans. They recently received a downtown grant and wanted to survey the associated businesses on how to effectively use the funds. They discovered a lot of the businesses wanted entrepreneurial education and maker spaces—somewhere folks can practice their trade and develop it into a business. 

“We have to be mindful that whatever we use for grant funds and put into our community, it's going to give power to our community and we're not going to push businesses outside of our community.” Demetria Pellegrino, Deputy Director of Economic Development for city of Westbrook, ME

By directly asking their communities for their input, Westbrook is able to embrace a culture of inclusivity and provide resources for their community that they previously wouldn’t have been able to know about.

Using surveys as a communication tool

When deciding to use surveys for your economic development plans, it’s important to use a tool that can support your grand visions. The city of Dallas, OR, a city about 20 minutes from the Oregon state capital with a population of 16,000 recently acquired an old bank building and wanted to use that as an opportunity to engage their residents.

“We have an idea as the city for what we want to do, but we’re really looking forward to feedback from the community on our idea and taking this really old bank building and turning it into something that can be really community-centric." Tyler Ferrari, Economic Development Specialist in for city of Dallas, OR

The Economic Development team in Dallas, OR uses Bludot’s CRM to manage their communications with local businesses. With a tool like Bludot, you can also create and send surveys to the community. With just a few clicks, you can build a survey (or use one of the templates) and share the digital link in local publications, community boards—or even send it out as a mass email in Bludot. 

Viewing click rates and survey results make it even easier to get a sense of your community’s engagement level and what they desire to see in their city. By using this tool to engage with their community, Dallas is making sure that this historic building will remain a community asset far into the future.

Bludot CRM Analytics - Economic Growth

Finding the right surveying tool

All of the communities we mentioned use Bludot, a robust CRM with project management, communication/surveying and data analysis functionality. Bludot was designed specifically for economic developer’s business retention, expansion and attraction efforts. Regardless of what tool you use, if you’re going to engage businesses with a survey, it’s important to make sure it has the following capabilities:


  1. An easy to use interface for both you and your businesses to interact with

  2. Easily accessible data such as click rates and survey results

  3. Ability to integrate with either a separate business directory or with it’s own in-house directory

Bringing in your community’s voice to your economic development strategies can provide incredible opportunities to align your local economy and promote economic grwoth. If you’re ready to talk about the best practices and tools to support your strategies, schedule a call with Bludot today.


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