A two-pronged survey conducted by the Lovell Inc. economic development group during November drew 214 responses, according to organizers.
Lovell Inc. Director Sue Taylor said Part A of the survey was designed to mirror the themes of the Town of Lovell Master Plan, which is used by the town council as a guiding document. Part B of the survey asked survey-takers to identify their individual skills and assets as part of an Asset Based Community Development program, which helps a community build from the inside out.
Kent Zeller, a BYU-Idaho student intern, worked with Taylor to develop and distribute the surveys. By Dec. 1, 99 adult surveys and 115 youth surveys had been submitted. Taylor and Zeller were able to briefly summarize the results from several of the survey questions and are now in the process of looking at potential projects based on the results gathered.
“Watch for those projects beginning early next year,” Taylor said.
Taylor said the number of responses to the survey was “pretty good” but said she and Zeller had hoped for more participation.
“It’s difficult when people don’t really know why we’re asking or what’s going to happen as a result,” Taylor said. “We did factor that in.”
She said people who are willing to teach, lend their talents or share skills are still invited to contact Lovell Inc. at 548-6707. Or people can recommend someone for such a role in areas like photography, building skills, business or craftwork.
“We really viewed this survey as an initial step of a community-building process,” Taylor said. “Like economic development, this is a process and not an event. We really look at it as a long-term investment in the community.
“There is the perception that some activities are exclusionary and we really feel that this process can help our community be more inclusive.”
Zeller is majoring in communications at BYU-Idaho with a focus on business such as helping management communicate with employees. He said he would like to be a consultant.
His minor is in industrial organizational psychology – implementing research into a business to show where a business can improve through the use of a survey. That’s where his major and minor dovetailed well with Taylor’s ABCD program and the Lovell Inc. survey.
“In industrial organizational psychology you learn to use the skills you have within a community and build the community from the inside out,” Zeller said. “With ABCD it’s a similar process.”
Added Taylor, “Our ultimate hope is that more people will be more comfortable participating in the community and sharing their skills and ideas.
“There are a lot of people with talents in the community, and they typically aren’t asked.”
The survey results
One of the early survey questions asked “What do you feel is your role in the community?” and 68 people chose to answer the question, with a variety of answers. Another early question asked “What do you know that you want to teach others that has been forgotten or become a lost art?”
Some answers were negative, such as the person who answered the first question about community role by replying, “to pay through the nose for everything that’s a necessity, i.e. garbage, water, sewer.” But other responses were positive. Answers to the “what do you want to teach others…that is a lost art” question included such ideas as “work, respect and values” and “how to work hard and share with others the advantages of living in a small community.”
Many answered the “role in the community” question by stating that they simply want to be a good citizen.
When asked what comes to mind when they hear the phrase “Rediscover Lovell,” just over half responded that they should be more aware of what is going on in the community. A large percentage are willing to be supportive of annual events and to support local businesses.
Many stated that the appearance of downtown businesses could be improved and some had specific suggestions for improvement. Wrote one person, “I would be opposed to any uniform requirements for storefronts. A wide variety of differences and styles between stores creates interest and excitement…Grants, creative designs and ideas that business owners can implement would be great for Lovell. I think that, probably, the biggest barriers to Lovell business owners are having the money, time and creativity to spruce up their storefronts.”
Answering the question about the ideal population for Lovell, 66 percent of those responding felt that 5,000 would be the ideal and that increased population would offer more jobs and more overall opportunities.
Thirty-four adults who took the survey said they are interested in starting a business, which would go a long way to increasing the local business base, Taylor noted.
Asked what kind of commercial business would be beneficial to the community, 71.4 percent of respondents said a clothing and shoe store, 66.7 percent said another restaurant, 58.3 percent said another grocery store 53.6 percent said another variety or discount store and 40.5 percent said a franchise or national chain.
One section of the survey asked questions relating to housing and more than 80 percent of those responding are homeowners, 12 percent rent and the balance are either looking for a home or are living with relatives.
When asked what youth would be willing to do to help the community, one-third were willing to volunteer once a month and a slightly higher number were willing to take part in physical activities such as yard work and painting during the summer.
When the youth were asked if they had thought about owning their own business, 50 percent said yes, with service businesses being the top choice for those with an interest. One-third of the youth felt that changes in the area of housing could be made in the community.
The top businesses that youth would like to see in Lovell and would be willing to support are: more food choices, a sports store and an electronics store, with trend clothing and arcade/laser tag following close behind.
Youth had many ideas for helping the community grow including becoming more of a go-getter type of community, home development, getting the entire community involved in events, having more places to shop, having more restaurants and various teen activities.
One question asked about the quality of education youth are receiving and 81 percent rated the quality great or exceptional. When asked what could be done to improve their learning experience, a common answer was having more hands-on experience and more class choices.
Several youth responded to the housing issue with good ideas including getting rid of the houses in poor condition and constructing more apartments. Many others also suggested repairing homes in poor condition.