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Community Pulse 2017

December 2017

Community Pulse 2017

Community Pulse 2017 Survey Results

Looking Ahead: Positive Impact

Looking ahead, what issue(s) do you see as having a positive impact on the welfare of the communities you serve and why? Be as specific as possible. The selected quotes below represent issues written verbatim by respondents.

MD

“More awareness of need to create affordable housing opportunities in higher opportunity areas. Regional housing cooperation beginning via the BMC/Opportunity Collaborative. Success of Baltimore Housing Mobility Programs. Fair Housing settlements requiring development of affordable family housing in job-rich Baltimore County and other higher opportunity areas of the region.”
— Public Interest Legal Organization (Maryland)

NC

“Collaborations that are developing between high-performing groups and agencies. For instance, in the Raleigh area, Carolina Small Business Development Fund (FKA The Support Center), Wake Tech Community College's Center for Entrepreneurship and the North Raleigh Rotary Club have come together to operate a program called Launch Raleigh that only serves budding entrepreneurs coming from Southeast Raleigh, with small business technical assistance and loan funds. This program gets to the heart of all the challenges facing lower income persons trying to start a business.”
— Other Financial Institution (North Carolina)

“The converting of the designation of Highway 64 and US HWY 13-17 into an actual interstate (87) connecting Raleigh and the Hampton Roads region will be a game changing event for our area. The designation was important[,] but the completion of the upgrades will make the biggest difference.”
— Chamber of Commerce (North Carolina)

“More engagement with the business community to commit to second chance employment opportunities for previously incarcerated individuals to reenter the workforce with dignity and respect.”
— Social Services or Public Health Agency (North Carolina)

“In regions that have seen a shift in industry or departure of large employers, we are seeing many take up self-employment by starting their own business. North Carolina has a strong entrepreneurial spirit, and it is not only prevalent in the high-tech, high-growth industries. We see it with ‘main street’ businesses as well. People are interested in starting and growing their own ventures. The challenge is meeting their enthusiasm and interest with capital and resources to meet their needs.” – Community Development Financial Institution (North Carolina) 

“Dual enrollment or ‘early college’ — ability of high school students to enroll in community college courses while in high school. Across our rural counties, early college (or whatever name localities brand it with) is clearly seen as a major achievement that is making a difference locally.”
— Rural Community Development Non-profit (North Carolina)

SC

“Opportunity to use SNAP E&T program to leverage federal dollars into our community to increase skills of clients so that they may secure jobs that pay a sustainable wage. This is an opportunity to create public/private partnerships to address the skills gap issue facing our community.”
— Community Development Corporation (CDC) (South Carolina)

“The establishment of a state earned income tax credit in South Carolina. Although it is non-refundable, it represents the beginning of a policy infrastructure that will assist low-wage workers to begin to build assets. The state EITC, coupled with the federal EITC, combined with the right financial counseling and more access to traditional financial institutions will have a positive impact on family wealth building.”
— State-wide Trade Association for Community Economic Development (South Carolina)

VA

“A growing voice for creating new locally controlled capital pools to begin to address deep-rooted issues associated with concentrated poverty and the lack of access to opportunities. There are conversations now that are positioning our community to be less reliant on federal and state resources that look as though they may be declining more significantly in the near term.”
— Community Development Corporation (CDC) (Virginia)

“We anticipate infusing entrepreneurship into all of our WIOA youth career development so that youth can be a part of strengthening the economy in our economically challenged communities”
— Workforce Development Board (Virginia)

“Development of a comprehensive transportation system for rural areas of the county would make a significant impact on the local area. Local transportation is critical to meeting the needs of individuals for access to nutritional foods, health services and employment.”
— Community Action Agency (CAA) (Virginia)

“We, county leadership, are constantly looking for ways we can better our community. Recently we developed a solution to bring broadband to our rural community. This one act is giving our citizens the opportunity to take classes and learn new skills. It has also made the economic development folks take notice of our county. Helping to bring businesses and[,] we hope in the future[,] stores to our community.”
— Local Governing Body (Virginia)

“Single greatest issue for region is diversifying it[s] economic base with more and high paying jobs in the private sector. The state's recently launched Go Virginia initiative has the potential to incentivize the region's localities to leverage their individual strengths to a greater community good.”
— Philanthropic Organization (Virginia)

“Our burgeoning arts and culture community is getting national recognition, and is opening communities to more diverse populations. We are seeing better partnerships between business and the creative community — and we could use more.”
— Arts/Humanities Support Non-profit (Virginia)

WV

“So, the necessity of a transitioning economy itself is what I believe will have the most positive impact on the welfare of the communities I serve. Turning our sights toward family farming and local food economies, cultural and recreational tourism, renewable energy industries and worker cooperatives to retool abandoned factories under local ownership are probably the best opportunities we have. Putting more investment into community land trusts to better manage long-term affordability as well as maintenance (prevent abandonment and dilapidation) is another good opportunity. It's good to see some of the POWER funds going to these types of workforce development and social enterprise initiatives.”
— Academia or Policy Center (West Virginia)

Looking Ahead: Negative Impact

Looking ahead, what issue(s) do you see as having a negative impact on the welfare of the communities you serve and why? Be as specific as possible. The selected quotes below represent issues written verbatim by respondents.

MD

“Uncertainty associated with the Federal budget and legislative priorities is particularly troubling for Maryland in light of the economy's strong reliance on Federal spending and employment. Unexpected decisions at the Federal level could have a chilling effect on continued investment and economic performance of the State.”
— State Department of Housing and Community Development Agency (Maryland)

“Public safety and opioid abuse are growing threats to the quality of life in our city. New approaches that do not rely primarily on law enforcement and incarceration are needed.”
— Urban/MSA Community Development Non-profit (Maryland)

“Continuation of low-income housing, drug rehab and other half way houses all concentrated in my community condemns the community to a lifetime of unhealthy, crime ridden neighborhoods with poor school districts and poorer outcomes for residents.”
— Community Association (Maryland)

“Lack of populace creates opportunities for gentrification. When people leave due to violence, poorly equipped schools [and] lack of nutritional resource options, it provides opportunities for those with greater means to redevelop those communities in which long-time residents cannot stay.”
— Workforce Development Non-profit (Maryland)

NC

“[A]vailability and affordability of broadband i[s] [a] limiting factor in too many rural communities.  Broadband is the great equalizer of the 21st century, but too many coverage gaps exist and even in places where broadband is available, subscription rates are too low (and that's partially an affordability issue).”
— Rural Community Development Non-profit (North Carolina)

“The rise of online small business lenders is a top concern for small business owners and entrepreneurs. As credit remains tight, these online lenders offer quick funding but at a high cost, as many have exorbitant interest rates, hidden fees and engage in predatory practices. This threatens the viability not only of the businesses financed, but the financial stability of business owners and their families.”
— Community Development Financial Institution (North Carolina)

“For affordable housing developers, the increase in construction costs coupled with restraints in tax credit pricing has made it more difficult to develop rental units, especially for those in the lower income brackets — 30% and 50% of AMI. Increasing the 9% LIHTC program would be helpful.”
— Community Development Corporation (CDC) (North Carolina)

 

SC

“Repeal and replacement of the Affordable Care Act. Although South Carolina did not expand Medicaid, the ACA still provides the opportunity for low-wealth residents to access healthcare. Healthcare continues to be a tremendous cost burden on poor families in South Carolina”
— State-wide Trade Association for Community Economic Development (South Carolina)

“Lack of transportation from our poorest communities to the larger employment centers. Much of our existing industry base is struggling to find a dependable workforce. We think creating easier transportation to those centers could help connect high unemployment neighborhoods with those looking to hire.”
— Local Governing Body (South Carolina)

VA

“Continued concentration of poverty in communities in the Greater Richmond area. This is spurned by the limited transportation options outside of the City of Richmond, which limits access to job opportunities. The absence of a regional plan to address these issues will perpetuate the widening of the disparities in wealth, educational attainment and health outcomes in our community.”
— Academic Medical Center/Health System (Virginia)

“Land use issues as they relate to our community being in the Chesapeake Bay watershed is deeply impacting our aquaculture and agriculture concerns. Stormwater regulations and the like are putting onerous services that need to be supplied by the county without monetary compensation on us. We simply cannot afford them and the businesses we do attract find the waiting times for permit issuance and the like too long and decide to build elsewhere.”
— Local Governing Body (Virginia)

“Continued stratification of rural vs. urban areas, i.e. the jobs are in more densely populated areas, and those with opportunities take them and move, leaving, primarily, those who do not have options due to health, age, education, mental capabilities or other issues. [T]his leaves a smaller, less vibrant economy in the rural areas and a higher percentage of the population reliant on some sort of public assistance.”
— State Department of Housing and Community Development Agency (Virginia)

“There are also a number of people who are not accessing services available to them because they are in a compromised immigration position — or are concerned with family members who are and don't want to have anyone from any organization receiving public funding involved in their lives. [L]egal immigrants and refugees are also impacted. I'm seeing this happen more and more. Whether it's social services or support for someone with a small business, they'd rather not access services than risk exposing anyone to the possibility of legal entanglement.”
— Other (Virginia)

WV

“I worry that resources will not go to community-based, bottom-up initiatives that are seeking creative responses to the economic opportunities noted above. ... I guess what I'm saying is that the way we are funding community and economic development needs to change because the status quo is not only ineffective, but is actually harming the welfare of the communities I serve.”
— Academia or Policy Center (West Virginia)

“West Virginia's political and economic leaders continue to focus on natural resource extraction and associated industries. These industries are important and vital to West Virginia, but there must be a concerted effort to develop economic activity not based on coal mining, oil/natural gas drilling and similar industries. This singular economic development mindset has not improved in recent years, and it may in fact be worsening.”
— Academia or Policy Center (West Virginia)

“Cost of healthcare[,] including patients not seeking needed care because of associated costs[,] and loss of revenue for sites that see all patients regardless of ability to pay (e.g.[,] Federally Qualified Health Centers, emergency departments, critical access hospitals) for which they do not receive adequate reimbursement for the cost of services provided”
— Academia or Policy Center (West Virginia)

Community Conditions

General Economic Conditions

Do you think that A YEAR FROM NOW general economic conditions in your community will be better, about the same or worse than they are currently? (N=315)

Local Labor Market Conditions

Do you think that A YEAR FROM NOW local labor market conditions in your community will be better, about the same or worse than they are currently? “Local labor market conditions” includes the degree of job loss or gain as well as changes to wages for low- and moderate-income earners. (N=299)

Local Housing Market Conditions

Do you think that A YEAR FROM NOW local housing market conditions in your community will be better, about the same or worse than they are currently? “Local housing market conditions” includes changes in house prices and rental rates as well as any new developments in housing activity for low- and moderate-income communities. (N=298)

Financial Well-being of Constituencies

Do you think that A YEAR FROM NOW the financial well-being of constituencies in your community will be better, about the same or worse than they are currently? “Financial well-being” is defined as the ability to fund basic needs, stay current on debt service, and save and invest for the future. (N=298)

Community Conditions by State

Policy Challenges and Regulations

Are there any policy challenges or regulations that are preventing you from meeting the needs of your constituencies/clients or fulfi lling your mission? (N=272)

The word cloud below shows the word phrases used by respondents when asked to discuss the specific policy challenges or regulations impacting their line of work. Size of the word corresponds to the number of respondents who used it in their response.

Policy Challenges and Regulations by State

Policy Challenges and Regulations: In Their Own Words

The selected quotes below represent policy challenges and regulations written verbatim by respondents.

MD

“Federal budget reductions would have a major impact on resources for service non[-]profits and the communities they serve; repeal of the Johnson Amendment on non-partisanship of 501c3 organizations would negatively impact the advocacy credibility of the charitable community”
— Non-profit Capacity Building Association (Maryland)

“I would like to see significant changes to the SBA's microlending grant program for technical assistance. The requirements for TA are focused to[o] highly on post lending help when many times new businesses need assistance in getting a plan together before going out and searching for funds to start the business.”
— Community Development Financial Institution (Maryland) 

“We're concerned that the potential implementation of Small Area Fair Market Rents (SAFMRs) by HUD will have a deleterious effect on housing quality in lower income neighborhoods of Baltimore City. While we understand the intent of the policy, the unintended consequences outweigh the benefits.”
— Small/Medium Established Company (Maryland)

“Water Quality State Revolving Funds can be used creatively to increase affordable housing and also eliminate blight that has toxins, lead and other pollutants that enter the water systems, but interpretation of the language has been inconsistent.”
— State Department of Housing and Community Development Agency (Maryland)

“Increase the impact of the EITC for young workers with no dependents.”
— Statewide Non-profit (Maryland)

“Capital requirement that local lenders must maintain has dampened the lending environment.”
— Local Economic Development Authority (Maryland)

NC

“Developers indicate that underwriting criteria for mixed use residential infill (re)development constrains their ability to finance these projects. This presents a significant barrier to constructing affordable and accessible housing for many rural and urban communities. In-fill housing also supports lower cost of government services and infrastructure.”
— Council of Governments (North Carolina)

“We need flexibility in the federal funding we receive, we need funding in federal programs that is driv[en] by changes (increases) in our population, more state funding as well as focus on housing issues and willing partners at a local level to create solutions. We need to be able to tailor the money received in a way that maximizes benefits to our community while setting up both rewards and consequences for families who do well or, conversely, do nothing to help themselves. Everyone needs to be accountable.”
— Local Housing Authority (North Carolina)

“Inclusionary zoning is currently prohibited in NC.”
— Local Governing Body (North Carolina)

“The LIHTC market has taken severe hits with the promise of tax reform. Drastic dips in pricing has killed some deals and hurt others. Shoring up LIHTC, or increasing the overall allocations would be helpful.”
— Community Development Corporation (CDC) (North Carolina)

“Refugee Families come into the countr[y] [and] many [are] not able to read, write or speak the language. They are taking ESL classes and participating in Job Club classes that teach them about the surrounding community and how to search for employment. State policies do not allow for us to count the ESL class time as Job Readiness[,] which would be a countable activity and help counties meet the 90% 2 parent participation rate.”
— Social Services or Public Health Agency (North Carolina)

SC

“The elimination of the Individual Development Account program, better known as Assets for Independence. IDAs are a match savings about program encouraging the poor to save toward acquiring an accruing asset: Homeownership, entrepreneurship, education. SCACED has successfully operated this program in partnership with the US Department of Health and Human Services. Its elimination is a severe blow to our economic development strategy.”
— State-wide Trade Association for Community Economic Development (South Carolina)

“We have access to funds in the HOME Partnership program. These are federal funds. Even though we make these funds available as matching funds to help stretch our limited resources, our partners in the business community and development community resist accepting the funds due to all of the federal regulations that come along with it that can delay projects and cause large cost increases. The federal regulations that are the most burdensome are the environmental regulations, but generally the funds just add another layer of bureaucracy, potential for non-compliance, etc.”
— State Housing Finance Agency (South Carolina)

 

VA

“As a private foundation, our board is watching the foundation's growth relative to the required 5% minimum distribution required under IRS guidelines. There is concern that it gets harder and harder to maintain purchasing power or even survive and grow enough to offset the 5% plus minimal expenses and the inflation rate. The board is serious about its mission in community and its charge to remain in perpetuity. There is interest in seeing a federal discussion of the appropriate required spending level.”
— Philanthropic Organization (Virginia)

“The loss of federal and state dollars has dramatically impacted our rural community partners that now have little or no access to support for infrastructure, services and programs that have formed the safety net for our vulnerable populations. That has resulted in local policies being enacted that further reduce the level of services and support that used to be available to vulnerable populations. For example, public transportation programs have been closed, making family members have to take off from work (and put their jobs at risk) to get seniors to medical appointments. Non[-]profits that used to administer Summer Feeding Programs for young people don't have paid staff or volunteers that have the time/capacity to handle all the paperwork required by the programs.”
— Rural Community Development Non-profit (Virginia)

“Recent change to proffer legislation by VA legislature has caused localities to become overly cautious about considering residential rezoning proposals. What was originally viewed as a political win by the homebuilders interests has backfired and awaits reform by the legislature.”
— Local Governing Body (Virginia)

“There seems to be difficulty for child care programs to participate in state funded child care subsidy programs. These programs help parents to remain employed. When there is no flexibility for a program to address issues that cause a disruption in subsidy status, families ultimately pay the price.”
— Other (Virginia)

“The uncertainty around defunding the CDFI Fund and the delay in enacting Dodd-Frank 1071. Funders are hesitant to work with emerging CDFI's when there is uncertainty hanging over our ongoing certification status. It's also uncertain as to 1071 becoming enacted and what the possible implications could be for expanding strategic partnerships with CDFI's.”
— Community Development Financial Institution (Virginia)

WV

“Protecting water quality is an ongoing challenge in West Virginia and the newest threat comes from hydraulic fracturing and the handling/storage of the by-products[,] which are hauled through our communities, stored in our communities and injected into substrata near tributaries that feed public drinking water supplies. The lack of regulation of these materials at the state and federal level harkens back to the fight to regulate mountain-top strip-mining and study the health impacts of those extraction activities on Appalachian population health.”
— Local Governing Body (West Virginia)

“State policy challenges are that most federal dollars are allocated by state agencies — very few are awarded directly to local governments or organizations. West Virginia could be characterized as having a state-centric policy culture — one that limits agency and autonomy at lower levels, particularly around use of grants-in-aid and taxation. So, the state's policy priorities limit the options for communities. As an example, this is one reason why there are so few homeownership programs and so many rental housing programs.”
— Academia or Policy Center (West Virginia)

“The uncertain future of the Affordable Care Act makes the health care environment challenging in West Virginia. West Virginia, as a state, relies heavily on the provisions and reforms of the law, such as Medicaid expansion and the requirement to insure those with pre-existing conditions.”
— Academia or Policy Center (West Virginia)

Leading Practices

Each respondent had the opportunity to share any new products, programs, partnerships, or strategies that their organization has adopted or developed since August 2016, which have been helpful in addressing community needs. The quotes below are a selection of these thoughts in their own words.

MD

“Art @ Work, the summer mural program for young people enrolled in Baltimore City’s YouthWorks program for five weeks, approximately 80 young people between the ages of 14–21 are hired to work under the direction of professional artists to create highly visible murals throughout the neighborhoods. In addition to creating the murals, Art @ Work participants attend professional development and skill-building workshops led by various local organizations. The goal of Art @ Work is to introduce youth to career opportunities in the arts, offer gainful employment in a positive learning environment and to provide youth with the tools to express themselves through the arts, all while beautifying their community.”
— Arts Council Baltimore City (Maryland)

“The CASH Campaign of Maryland worked with its partners to cap payday loan fees/interest[,] increased the availability of financial coaching[,] launched EARN Savings Account to help residents build the habit of savings and is increasing its training of local organizations to integrate financial capability programs into their services.”
— Statewide Non-profit (Maryland)

“The Eastern Shore Innovation Center was opened February 1, 2016. Initially, our primary new business startups have been professional services firms; however, in early 2017 we built a Wet Lab with the help of the Rural Maryland Council, our State Senator and Delegates, and a promising new businessman. The result has been to attract a new Life Sciences business[,] which began operations here in September 2017. We hope that this is the first of many Life Sciences businesses.”
— Local Economic Development Authority (Maryland)

“Maryland New Directions recently created its Commercial Transportation Career (CTC) training model. Assisting low-income resident[s] to learn and be trained in commercial passenger driving. MND has a transportation company partner that will hire the most qualified trainees based on performance. There is a great demand for commercial drivers in the Maryland area and MND is doing its part to close the gap.”
— Workforce Development Non-profit (Maryland)

NC

“Expanded apprenticeship program in Guilford County and will work to continue expansion of youth apprenticeships and creation of adult apprenticeships with state funding that has been approved for FY 2018—2019. Expanded Opportunity Greensboro Fellows Program in 2nd year and plan to double the participants in 3rd year. Will support and work with Guilford County Schools to reinvent Career and Technical Education so that all students will have access to career pathways. Working on Talent Alignment Strategy that will help align industry needs with education offerings.”
— Chamber of Commerce (North Carolina)

“We attempted to provide a Pre Kindergarten full-day program during the summer for our resident youth 3–4 year olds. It was very successful but due to lack of funds we had to scale back to a morning (4 hour) program[. However,] for working parents this wasn't enough time[,] which prevented them from utilizing our "free" service or the parent chose not to work at all. Sometimes they would not send their child to our program. This was unfortunate for the child to prepare them for kindergarten.”
— Local Housing Authority (North Carolina)

“In October 2016, we launched our Latino Program (Programa Empresarial Latino)[,] which is aimed at expanding access to capital and other resources such as business coaching, training and education to the growing Hispanic/Latino population in NC. These services are delivered through dedicated bi-lingual and bi-cultural staff, and through partnerships with other organizations across the state.”
— Community Development Financial Institution (North Carolina)

SC

“In 2016, SCACED launched Health Insight Initiative, designed to elevate the intersection be[tween] community economic development and health. This initiative has demonstrated the benefits of community development strategies and programs on the social determinants of health. The education process to diverse stakeholders have begun to increase interest and support for a healthy Insight framework in South Carolina. More can be learned about Healthy Insight by going to
www.healthyinsight.org.”

— State-wide Trade Association for Community Economic Development (South Carolina)

VA

“We also launched a new initiative in the early care and education space using a collective impact model. Dubbed Minus 9 to 5, the initiative engages over 100 stakeholders in such targeted areas as healthy home-healthy children, thriving families, early learning and development, community connections, date and knowledge sharing, and policy and advocacy. Stakeholders include representatives from the provider, higher education, healthcare, medical school, government, and non-profit sectors.”
— Philanthropic Organization (Virginia)

“United Way of Southwest Virginia has developed the Ignite program, which connects schools and students with employers through career guidance and work-based learning. The Ignite Program helps middle school and high school students realize their potential and work to be ready to enter and advance in the region’s workplace. By partnering with Ignite, a program of United Way of Southwest Virginia, parents, community partners and employers can join the efforts of the school system to build students’ career education and awareness. In the fall of 2017, the pilot components of the program will be taken to scale to 15% of the state of Virginia — in every middle school and high school in our service area, reaching over 29,000 students in over 80 schools and partnering with dozens of regional employers.”
— Philanthropic Organization (Virginia)

“We have partnered with a local non-profit to provide automobile financing to individuals who have a job but do not have transportation to the job. The individuals are qualified by the non-profit and the loans are guaranteed by the non-profit as they do not meet our current guidelines. It has been a very popular and meaningful partnership within our community. Win-win for all involved.”
— Community Bank (Virginia)

“We have worked intensively with several non[-]profit organizations to help them achieve better long-term financial sustainability that will allow them to continue serving their missions long into the future. The program is based on identifying and overcoming serious challenges affecting financial sustainability. The program, called the Non[-]profit Sustainability Challenge, provides extensive professional coaching and multiple opportunities for peer-to-peer support to enhance accountability for driving meaningful outcomes. Results from the two initial classes of this program have been outstanding.”
— Community Development Financial Institution (Virginia)

“City and adjoining County have implemented a Drug Court as alternative to traditional court system.”
— Local Governing Body (Virginia)

“We are beginning to have conversations with long-time donors to explore the possibility of social impact investing as a new capital tool that will help position our organization to better compete for acquisition of existing affordable housing complexes.”
— Community Development Corporation (CDC) (Virginia)

WV

“NCIF partnered with the Hatfield-McCoy Regional Recreation Authority to develop a targeted RLF and TA program to support business development in Hatfield-McCoy trail communities in southern WV. [T]he initiative will address the lodging capacity issue in southern WV and result in job creation in coal impacted communities.”
— Community Development Financial Institution (West Virginia)

“We've adopted an alternative land access program that help young and beginning farmers access property to begin their farming businesses. We've also employed strategies for farmers that are really about networking and working together, but delivered in production training opportunities.”
— Non-profit – Food and Ag (West Virginia)

“West Virginia’s current health care system is siloed and unaccustomed to collaboration. That is starting to change because of the Affordable Care Act, other legislation and the advent of collaborative organizations[,] such as West Virginia Partnership for Health Innovation (WVPHI). Due to West Virginia’s poor financial status, state government is unable, by its own account, to lead a value-based health care transition without external support. WVPHI facilitates collaboration among health care insurers, providers and community-based organizations by building consensus and better leveraging scarce resources to achieve common goals. WVPHI is implementing a model that requires gaining the support and trust of all key health care stakeholders, including insurers (i.e.[,] health insurance plans and public programs such as Medicaid and Public Employees Insurance Agency)[,] providers (i.e.[,] physicians, medical practices, hospitals and health systems)[,] purchasers (i.e.[,] employers who purchase health insurance for employees) and organizations representing consumer interests (i.e., AARP and West Virginians for Affordable Health Care). Only after the support and trust of these parties is gained can WVPHI move the state toward a value-based health care system.”
— Academia or Policy Center (West Virginia)

“The Healthy Places for Healthy People program through the EPA and in conjunction with the ARC will help the riverside Cities of Montgomery and Smithers develop plans to address dilapidated buildings in those communities and redevelop in a manner that will help address poor health outcomes while creating and attractive community that will help recruit business and residents to the Upper Kanawha River Valley of Fayette/ Kanawha County.”
— Local Governing Body (West Virginia)

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Survey Methodology

The purpose of the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond’s Community Pulse survey is to identify the most significant current and emerging issues in the Fifth District’s numerous, highly diverse communities. The survey is administered once a year to a panel of participants representing the community development field in the Fifth District. The participants are chosen based on a predefined set of criteria that best represents the community development industry in the District. The survey was sent to roughly 1,600 community stakeholders. The 2017 survey was administered online from mid-August to early September. Responses were received from 344 individuals, however, only 323 responses contained answers to noncontact information questions.

The 2017 survey instrument consists of 26 questions. When identifying the top current issues, respondents may select from a predefined list of issues or write in their own issues. The list of issues is revised for each round based on the results of the previous round and input from Community Development department staff members. All open-ended responses to survey questions included in this report are taken verbatim from respondents’ written in answers. Any reported percentages have been rounded and may not equal 100 percent. To participate in future surveys or offer feedback, contact Emily Corcoran.