City surveys 2,300 businesses for ideas, input
October 16, 2012
By Warren Kagarise
Issaquah leaders put a question to business owners in recent days: How can we help you?
Citywide, all 2,300 businesses started to receive surveys from the economic development team at City Hall last week. The effort is designed to help officials understand business leaders’ concerns and needs.
The data collected from survey responses could influence future decisions related to business regulations, incentives and more.
Not long after joining the staff at City Hall earlier this year, Economic Development Manager Andrea Lehner gathered anecdotal information from business owners from meetings and visits, but, through the process, started to crave more empirical information.
“I’ve been talking with lots of different business owners that have a variety of concerns or have had a history of issues,” she said. “A lot of things have come to my attention, but it’s hard for me to really get an idea of what exactly are the most pressing needs that we should be focusing on.”
On the Web
Issaquah business owners can complete a survey from the city’s economic development team at www.ci.issaquah.wa.us/bizsurvey. The deadline to submit responses is Oct. 26.
The survey seemed like the next logical step for the economic development team. Respondents can complete and mail the survey, or submit responses online.
The economic development team also identified 70 businesses for face-to-face interviews. The lineup includes large employers, such as big-box retailer Fred Meyer and apparel company SanMar, small businesses and nonprofit organizations.
“One thing that I do when I go in and talk to a business is finding out, OK, what are the specific, immediate concerns that we can address right now?” Lehner said. “With the survey effort, we’re also going to be able to discover, what are the policy issues that probably are going to take a little bit longer to sweep out and find good solutions to.”
The team plans to compile the survey results into a report to guide future policy decisions.
City leaders laid the foundation a year ago for a more muscular economic development program to retain and attract businesses. The survey effort is in part focused on smoothing the interaction between local businesses and municipal government.
“Just as businesses adapt to meet the needs of their clients, the city is enhancing its services for our customers — Issaquah’s business community,” Economic Development Director Keith Niven said. “While we have lots of ideas, we need to hear what is most important to our businesses first. This survey process is a great start.”