Business survey reveals healthy Chesco pulse

When the Chester County Board of Commissioners and the Chester County Economic Development Council (CCEDC) opted to employ a comprehensive survey to “Take the Pulse” of the business community, they theorized that the assessment would help facilitate good health.

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Sixty percent of business owners who responded to the survey project revenue growth during the next year.

The results of their findings, released at the commissioners’ Sunshine meeting on Tuesday, May 17, reflected the county’s overall fiscal well-being with some areas in need of further treatment, such as traffic congestion and public transportation.

Developed in partnership with the county’s 10 chambers of commerce, the survey was a key component of VISTA 2025, Chester County’s 10-year economic development strategy, a plan that aims to maintain the economic health of the county by striking a balance between progress and preservation, said a press release from the CCEDC.

“The Take the Pulse survey results have revealed the top opportunities and challenges that Chester County business owners are facing as we continue to bounce back from the nationwide recession,” Chester County Commissioners’ Chairman Terence Farrell said in the release. “The results give us valuable guidance on where to focus our energy as we work to ensure the future health of Chester County’s economy.”

Chester County Economic Development Council COO & Executive Vice President Michael Grigalonis (clockwise from left), Chester County Commissioners' Chairman Terence Farrell, CCEDC Urban Development Consultant David Sciocchetti, Chester County Planning Commission Executive Director Brian O’Leary, RMI Research President Rosemarie Miller, CCEDC Director of Business Development MaryFrances McGarrity , and Chester County Commissioner Michelle Kichline gather for the survey results.

Chester County Economic Development Council COO and Executive Vice President Michael Grigalonis (clockwise from left), Chester County Commissioners' Chairman Terence Farrell, CCEDC Urban Development Consultant David Sciocchetti, Chester County Planning Commission Executive Director Brian O’Leary, RMI Research President Rosemarie Miller, CCEDC Director of Business Development MaryFrances McGarrity,  and Chester County Commissioner Michelle Kichline gather for the survey results.

More than 400 individuals responded to the online, 20-question survey that was open to all businesses and designed to assess the business climate in Chester County, the release said.

Key results from the Take the Pulse survey include:

  • More than 94 percent of respondents expect to see increased revenues in the next 12 months.
  • Approximately 90 percent of respondents believe the business climate in Chester County is “stable” or “improving.”
  • Most companies in Chester County are here because they were “started here” or because “the principal lives here.”
  • Survey respondents are highly optimistic about the future business climate in Chester County. More than eight in 10 (82 percent) of business owners expect to maintain or grow their business over the next year.
  • The overall “quality of place” in Chester County was rated as excellent in terms of its positive effect on the county as a place to do business. Community safety, community events and activities, recreational opportunities, community attitudes and quality of educational system were also rated as the most positive.
  • The majority of survey respondents have a long-standing presence in Chester County, with nearly half (49 percent) operating in Chester County for 20 years or more.
  • While survey respondents are optimistic for the future, managing “new business growth” was most often cited as the primary challenge facing their businesses, followed by the ability to attract and retain a “qualified workforce.”
  • The items rated as having the most negative effect were “public transportation” and “traffic congestion.”

“Take the Pulse survey results further validated one of the primary themes contained in the VISTA 2025 strategy – quality of place is paramount to the people of Chester County and critical to our continued ability to attract talent and businesses,” said CCEDC President and CEO Gary W. Smith in the release.

Chester County Commissioner Kathi Cozzone added that the data would help the county chart its course over the next decade. “These survey results, combined with the feedback we receive through our urban center forums, our workforce and education summit and workshops, and the work of our goal teams continue to provide valuable insight for our future economy,” Cozzone said.

Commissioner Michelle Kichline, who also co-chairs the VISTA 2025 initiative, noted that while it was reassuring to have the value of the county’s “quality of place” affirmed, it was not surprising to see that public transportation and traffic congestion affect businesses adversely. “We will continue to identify the top transportation improvements that support economic development, and are working on ways to improve additional modes of transportation including rail, bike and pedestrian infrastructure,” she said

For more details on Vista 2025, see www.vista2025.com. For information on Chester County, see www.chesco.org. To learn more about the Chester County Economic Development Council, go to www.cceconomicdevelopment.com.

 

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