Northern New York Newspapers
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Sun., Oct. 4
Serving the communities of Jefferson, St. Lawrence and Lewis counties, New York
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Survey results help agencies apply for funding and structure programs


Results from the annual community survey of Jefferson County help paint a picture of the area for outside agencies and businesses looking to invest in the county, according to local government and nonprofit officials.

The 2013 survey was compiled from the responses of 400 county residents who were asked a series of 69 questions about topics ranging from local government to the overall quality of life in the area. The list includes a core of 30 questions that have been asked every year since 2000.

By comparing these data year after year, Raymond E. Petersen, the center’s director, and Joel F. LaLone, the center’s research coordinator, can track the trends that have emerged over the 14-year history of the survey.

“What’s great about it is that you’ve got this timeline feature,” Jefferson County Director of Planning Donald A. Canfield said. “It’s very helpful.”

Mr. Canfield said that his department has provided survey results to consultants hired to put together economic strategies and transportation studies.

The results were given to Camoin Associates of Saratoga Springs for the development of a Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy and to Nelson/Nygaard Consulting Associates Inc., New York City, for the Fort Drum Regional Transit Needs Assessment and Analysis Report released last February.

“It helps people to be able to begin to form an understanding of the characteristics of the area,” Mr. Canfield said.

The results are used by the Jefferson County Industrial Development Agency when meeting with site selectors and developers interested in the area, according to Donald C. Alexander, JCIDA CEO.

Mr. Alexander said the survey provides the hard data that are preferable to anecdotal observations when trying to characterize the community to visiting businesses.

The data also are beneficial to nonprofit organizations.

“It helps us align our priorities and decision making with real data,” said Rande S. Richardson, executive director of the Northern New York Community Foundation. “And we’re able to help the agencies we fund leverage grants from outside agencies.”

The survey results help the foundation and its agencies validate their cases to outside organizations that are not familiar with the area, according to Mr. Richardson.

He said he did not know of another community with an organization that conducted the kind of “grass roots, broad-based, cross sampling of the community” the way the Center for Community Studies does.

Amanda R. Root, a nutrition team coordinator at Cornell Cooperative Extension of Jefferson County, said her organization recently used survey data compiled by the center to help design a program that awarded “mini-grants” ranging from $2,650 to $620 to eight agencies to improve access to healthy food and physical activity.

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