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May 17, 2016 | Submitted article
West Chester PA — The Chester County Board of Commissioners and the Chester County Economic Development Council (CCEDC) announced the results of a comprehensive business survey entitled “Take the Pulse.” The survey, developed in partnership with the county’s ten chambers of commerce, is a key component of VISTA 2025, Chester County’s ten-year economic development strategy designed to maintain the economic health of the county by striking a balance between progress and preservation.
“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,” said Chester County Commissioners’ Chair Terence Farrell. “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.”
“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 & CEO Gary W. Smith.
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. 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 ten (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.”
Commissioner Kathi Cozzone said,“The data gathered will help influence the course of Chester County’s economic well-being 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.”
Commissioner Michelle Kichline, who also co-chairs the VISTA 2025 initiative, noted: “It is reassuring to find that Chester County business owners really value the quality of place that Chester County offers, and it’s not surprising to see that public transportation and traffic congestion have the most negative effect on businesses. 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.”
Take the Pulse is a key component of VISTA 2025, a public-private partnership between the County of Chester and the Chester County Economic Development Council (CCEDC) focused on creating and implementing a 10-year economic development strategy for the county. Implementation of the strategy is a collaborative effort involving the CCEDC, the Chester County Commissioners, Chambers of Commerce, key county business leaders, educators and non-profit executives. For more information on Vista 2025, see www.vista2025.com. For information on Chester County, see www.chesco.org. For more information on the Chester County Economic Development Council, see www.cceconomicdevelopment.com.
The CCEDC is a private, non-profit economic development organization promoting smart growth in Chester County and the surrounding region for more than 50 years. The CCEDC provides proven financing solutions, cultivates workforce talent, leverages business partnerships, and fosters entrepreneurial collaboration. Together, with the support of the private and public sectors, CCEDC initiates, implements and innovates programs that improve the business community and enhance the quality of life in Chester County.
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Kristen Stewart, NouSoma Communications