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Strategic survey results unveiled

Staff writer

Just more than 400 people responded to a strategic planning survey, and 30 or so gathered Monday night to discuss Marion’s future.

In the admittedly non-scientific survey, the majority ranking economic development and workforce as top priorities.

Staff from Wichita State University’s Public Policy and Management Center shared results with the public. The meeting followed 10 focus groups attended by about 100 people.

Work on a strategic plan for the city began in August. Leaders plan to begin work next month on a three-year plan for the city.

Among the findings:

  • 46.5% of respondents ranked economic development and workforce as the city’s top priority.
  • 22.8% ranked housing as the top priority.
  • 17.02% ranked infrastructure as the top priority.
  • 13.68% ranked communication and city image as the top priority.

Asked whether they choose to live in Marion because of connections to friends and family, 28% said they strongly agreed, 62.12% said they agreed, 6.59% said they disagreed, and 3.29% said the strongly disagreed.

Only small percentages said they agreed (12.18%) or strongly agreed (2.81%) that people chose to live in Marion because of employment and career opportunities.

Marion is a good place to raise a family, 59.25% agreed and 32.79% strongly agreed.

A majority — 46.6% agreed and 31.26 strongly agreed — that they expected to live in Marion in five years.

Despite that, 58.33% disagreed or strongly disagreed that they were optimistic about Marion’s future.

Misty Bruckner, the center’s director, said 61.14% agreed they were willing to put community interests above personal interests, and 16.82% strongly agreed.

But 63.12% disagreed, and 18.44% strongly disagreed that others were willing to put community interests above personal interests.

Essentially, Bruckner said, those who said they would put community interests first doubted “if anyone else is going to do that.”

That leads to people thinking that “nobody’s going to step up to work together,” she said.

It will take everyone working together to improve the city, leaders said.

Ideas that attendees shared:

  • Burying lines for more secure and reliable Internet
  • Talking to more Internet providers to increase competition
  • Hiring a full-time economic development director to help attract and retain businesses
  • Providing co-working space for people who work remotely
  • Improving sidewalks and streets
  • Improving downtown buildings and adding apartments to second floors
  • Offering vocational and tech training for people who don’t want to go to college.

Last modified Feb. 22, 2023

 

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