The Richland Community Development Corporation recently conducted a survey of Richland area residents to identify wants, needs, and perceived issues in the community.

Carrie Turner, the Richland Chamber of Commerce President, represented the Richland Community Development Corporation (RCDC), at the Board of Aldermen meeting in Richland last Tuesday night and gave the findings of a recent survey.

Turner stated at the meeting, “The Richland Community Development Corporation is the economic corporation formed about eight months ago. The last two to three months we were making some headway with our goals and what we are trying to do.”

Cindy Payne, RCDC President, explained to the Daily Guide that RCDC’s vision is “to provide a bridge between all the partners in making Richland a more accessible, welcoming, vibrant, diversified and economically viable community.”

RCDC’s mission statement reads, “To collaborate with city and county governments, business and property owners and industry, developers, workforce educators, the Chamber of Commerce, bankers, and leaders in the arts to develop and implement strategies that will add to Richland’s economic stability and quality of life.”

Turner presented the Board with a ten-question survey RCDC took of the Richland community and the results of that survey. The survey helped make the corporation aware of perceived issues in the community and things that community members would like to see improved.

Turner said at the Board meeting, “This is a result of a survey that we wanted to take of the community. We wanted to know what their input was; what did they want us to focus on? You’ll see from this we had 159 respondents. We used our population base off the zip code which gave us 2.7% of the population. You want for that to be between 2 and 3 percent.”

Payne explained that RCDC is compiled of four teams that focus on different areas including, Business/Industry Recruitment, Downtown Revitalization, Partnerships with Fort Leonard Wood, and Tourism/Parks.

Payne commented in an e-mail to the Daily Guide, “All four teams are open to area residents’ involvement, and already have some wonderful ideas. If you have attended one of our Town Hall/board meetings, you have seen for yourself how excited people are to be taking action.”

The corporation concluded, from the survey, that sidewalks would improve the community. The Board of Aldermen approved the proposal at Tuesday night’s meeting.

The survey covered a number of topics including Richland’s assets, challenges, and things people might like to see improved.

The number one answer under what the individuals surveyed felt was Richland’s best asset was a sense of community. About 50 percent of individuals surveyed felt the city’s best asset was a sense of community while the lowest response, at 3.82 percent, felt recreational opportunities was the best asset. Other responses included education with 10.83 percent, affordable housing with 12.74 percent, natural habitat with 10.19 percent, and 10.19 percent gave a different response that the survey classified as “other.”

The majority of individuals surveyed agreed that providing adequate job opportunities is Richland’s greatest challenge. More than half the survey takers concurred that Richland does not provide adequate job opportunities.

Turner said, “I am serving on the jobs committee along with Anne Myers, Mary Baker, and Kathy Ruggles and we are trying to find how can we draw businesses and keep our businesses here in town-that is one of our main focuses that we have that are there.”

Sixty-seven percent of the survey takers thought economic development was the most important area to focus on. 56.33 percent of those surveyed agreed that utilities were the most important, making it the second top answer. The third top response was sidewalks and bike paths with 41.14 percent.

Downtown redevelopment was the clear top response to the next question. Sixty-three percent of respondents agree the city should prioritize downtown. Sidewalks were the second top response with 40.26 percent, while green and sustainable initiatives was the third with 35.06 percent.

Richland barely made the top response to the next question with 29.94 percent. When purchasing supplies and services, the survey taker primarily, more than 50% of the time, buys from businesses in town. Lebanon and Waynesville tied for second and third top response with 27.39 percent.

The individual surveyed shops outside of Richland for various reasons. The top response was she or he cannot get the item she or he wants in town with 51.68 percent. The second top response was “it [shopping outside of Richland] is cheaper” with 46.98 percent. The third top response was “I [the survey taker] am somewhere for another reason and it is easy” with 28.86 percent.

The survey takers would support a variety of community activities. The top response was festivals and events with 80.67 percent. The second top answer was children or youth activities with 60.67 percent and music or concerts came in third with 51.33 percent.

Quality housing that is obtainable for working families was the response to the next question. The other top two housing needs were rental housing (53.38 percent) and housing for seniors and retirees (32.43 percent).

Forty-one percent respondents would support food co-ops in Richland. Small engine shops were the second top answer with 40.54 percent, while clothing stores were third with 39.19 percent.

Thirty-nine percent of respondents live in the city limits of Richland. Thirty-three percent live within five miles of the city of Richland.