Growth: Bend’s defining force for three decades and a source of constant discussion. But how do Bend residents really feel about growth and why?
In the launch of its Better Communities Initiative, Hubbell Communications sheds new light on these questions in a report released today titled, It’s Not About Growth: Shifting the Conversation in Bend, which offers a path for decision-makers, employers and civic leaders away from the unproductive “pro v. no” debate and toward a future where solutions are aligned with residents’ aspirations for their community.
“The Better Communities Initiative is a platform for Hubbell Communications to get to the heart of what’s keeping communities mired in old problems. Our study found that the debate among Bend residents about whether growth is good or bad is over—Bendites want community leaders to address the impacts of growth to make sure Bend remains a place with a thriving middle class where everyone, regardless of income, can enjoy the amenities that the city and the region have to offer,” said Ward Hubbell, president of Hubbell Communications.
The report is the conclusion of a six-month project conducted in partnership with the Bend Chamber of Commerce and DHM Research that included stakeholder interviews, a qualitative focus group and a quantitative online survey. Key findings include:
- In contrast to earlier studies, a majority of Bend residents now view growth negatively (58 percent)
- The debate over whether growth is good or bad is over — residents believe growth is a reality and they want local officials to do more to deal with the impacts of it (80 percent)
- Many residents believe that new people moving to Bend are negatively affecting culture (43 percent), and still more think that people moving to Bend don’t share their beliefs about why Bend is special (48 percent)
- But the report reveals that across all demographics, Bend residents are actually largely united on why Bend is a great place to live, what must be done to manage growth, and their hopes for the future
- Finally, providing real data on how growth and tourism provide resources for first responders, roads, job growth, local businesses and local culture leads to much more positive views on growth
Through its in-depth look at beliefs about Bend’s changing culture and community the report unlocks answers for how public officials, community leaders and employers can more effectively communicate with residents regarding the toughest challenges facing this rapidly growing city.
“Our primary goal with this report was to provide direction for employers and policy makers,” said Katy Brooks, President of the Bend Chamber of Commerce. “They need to know what the workforce is thinking and how we can create solutions that really speak to the needs and priorities of the people.”