Sur­vey re­veals high sat­is­fac­tion, great fu­ture in Ar­ling­ton

Star-Telegram (Sunday) - - Opinion - BY RICHARD GREENE may­or­[email protected]­or­greene.com Richard Greene is a for­mer Ar­ling­ton mayor, served as an appointee of Pres­i­dent Ge­orge W. Bush as re­gional ad­min­is­tra­tor for the En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Agency and lec­tures at UT Ar­ling­ton.

With the chal­lenges that cities face in pro­vid­ing sup­port for strong lo­cal economies, Ar­ling­ton is en­joy­ing con­sid­er­able suc­cess, as re­vealed by a re­cently re­leased sur­vey con­ducted by the Greater Ar­ling­ton Cham­ber of Com­merce.

The six-month-long project gath­ered responses from 137 com­pa­nies that shared their opin­ions about busi­ness con­di­tions and ser­vices in the city by rat­ing their ex­pe­ri­ences across mul­ti­ple ar­eas that im­pact their op­er­a­tions.

Then 30 on-site, hour­long in­ter­views with busi­ness own­ers were con­ducted us­ing method­ol­ogy de­vel­oped by the Busi­ness Re­ten­tion and Ex­pan­sion In­sti­tute at South­ern Mis­sis­sippi Univer­sity.

With a mis­sion of de­ter­min­ing what was work­ing well and ar­eas where im­prove­ments were needed, the Cham­ber’s find­ings were then shared with its mem­bers, the city’s elected lead­er­ship and se­nior man­age­ment of­fi­cials.

The ul­ti­mate goal was to fur­ther em­power the work of eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment and job cre­ation by sup­port­ing the city’s pri­or­i­ties of be­ing busi­ness-friendly in the highly com­pet­i­tive field of at­tract­ing large and small busi­nesses that ul­ti­mately lead to a higher qual­ity of life for the city’s res­i­dents.

The re­port finds a wide range of en­trepreneurs and corporations to be very sat­is­fied with Ar­ling­ton as a com­mu­nity in which to do busi­ness. Pos­i­tive at­ti­tudes abound to­ward the city gov­ern­ment’s role in cre­at­ing an en­vi­ron­ment in which busi­nesses can be suc­cess­ful.

Those find­ings in­clude util­ity and trans­porta­tion in­fra­struc­ture, fire pro­tec­tion, law en­force­ment, ef­fec­tive zon­ing, code en­force­ment, parks and recre­ation, low cost of liv­ing, hous­ing stock avail­abil­ity, and ed­u­ca­tion providers at all lev­els.

The cost of leas­ing or pur­chas­ing space to op­er­ate; lo­ca­tion op­por­tu­ni­ties; cost and avail­abil­ity of la­bor; the over­all cost of do­ing busi­ness; and work­force de­vel­op­ment were over­whelm­ingly rated as be­ing good to ex­cel­lent.

Law en­force­ment and fire pro­tec­tion gar­nered the high­est rat­ings of sat­is­fac­tion with both scor­ing in the 90th per­centile among the good to ex­cel­lent responses.

More than 60 per­cent of re­spon­dents said code en­force­ment ser­vices were good to ex­cel­lent and even traf­fic flow, a long­stand­ing is­sue in Ar­ling­ton, gar­nered a 57 per­cent ma­jor­ity in those two cat­e­gories.

Road main­te­nance did get more than 50 per­cent ap­proval as good to ex­cel­lent, but was the sec­ond­low­est in rat­ings ( per­mit­ting came in at 44 per­cent) of all city ser­vices. What is in­ter­est­ing about that re­sponse is that cur­rent road work con­tin­ues to set new records in ex­pen­di­tures across the city ev­ery year.

A con­clu­sion could be drawn that no mat­ter how much money is poured into keep­ing roads in good con­di­tion, there will al­ways be more that needs to be done.

On the other hand, the cat­e­gory of high­way in­fra­struc­ture won the ap­proval of 73 per­cent of those sur­veyed while other trans­porta­tion ser­vices such as air and truck ship­ping and pack­age de­liv­ery all scored in the 90th per­centile range.

Elec­tric and gas ser­vice providers got high marks with good-to-ex­cel­lent scores of 90 and 88 per­cent. The prin­ci­pal com­plaints about elec­tric­ity was, no sur­prise here – power out­ages.

Ar­ling­ton city gov­ern­ment was rated good to ex­cel­lent by 76 per­cent of the re­spon­dents and poor by fewer than 10 per­cent.

An in­ter­est­ing side note here may be to won­der, with such a strong ap­proval of the work of the city’s elected rep­re­sen­ta­tives, why did a ma­jor­ity of vot­ers in last month’s elec­tions de­cide the struc­ture of lo­cal gov­ern­ment should be rad­i­cally changed?

Fall­ing far short of city gov­ern­ment rat­ings, Texas state gov­ern­ment was seen pos­i­tively by 58 per­cent with only 13 per­cent putting it in the ex­cel­lent cat­e­gory.

In the al­ways-im­por­tant ques­tion about tax­a­tion, 74 per­cent found the sales tax rate good or ex­cel­lent and a ma­jor­ity even put prop­erty taxes in those two cat­e­gories.

So, what’s to be con­cluded by th­ese re­sults? While in­ter­pre­ta­tions may vary, I think it means Ar­ling­ton’s tra­di­tional can-do spirit re­mains strong, and its best years still lie ahead.

RES­I­DENTS GIVE THEIR HOME HIGH MARKS FOR LIVABILITY AND CITY SER­VICES, EVEN FOR ROADS, HIGH­WAYS AND TRAF­FIC.

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