One of the first, and still one of the few, cities to conduct an annual business satisfaction survey, the City of Kansas City, Missouri, recently released its results for 2017. The survey helps the City and EDCKC identify the level of companies’ satisfaction with our overall business climate as well as specific needs and plans businesses have for their future growth and prosperity. The statistically valid survey was conducted by phone and email in late 2017, capturing responses from more than 100 businesses in each of four geographic zones in the City.
“Probably one of the biggest outcome metrics for the City and EDC to take from the survey is how respondents feel about KCMO’s overall environment as a place to do business” said Kate Bender, senior management analyst with the City of Kansas City, Missouri. “We are not striving for average so it is good to see that we have consistently had 70 percent of respondents rate the city as an excellent or good as a place to do business over the last three years.”
When the ratings of the City as a place to do business are compared across the four geographic zones, East Kansas City stands out as having a lower and declining level of satisfaction compared to the other three zones.
The EDC Business Development Officers (BDOs) have a primary focus on business expansion and retention. These kinds of survey findings, along with the feedback we gain in our one-on-one visits with business leaders in Kansas City, Missouri, help us identify issues and priority initiatives.
Bender sees the 24 percent that rated the City as an average place to do business as an opportunity. “You can push neutral into good so that’s an opportunity for us to work harder and improve perceptions,” she added.
EDC’s BDOs routinely field questions or work with the City on business needs regarding City services. The survey questions on business satisfaction with City services can be compared to results from its 2017 resident satisfaction survey and the responses are fairly consistent.
The study measures dozens of additional business indicators including the top kinds of business assistance most companies are interested in, including the top three:
- Workforce training
- Financial assistance
- Help with real estate development
Several questions seemed to point to potential issues for businesses related to workforce. Given the strength of the economy and the tightening of the labor market throughout the country, this was not surprising.
“This seventh annual survey is about the incremental improvements we can make in our business environment,” said Bender. “The 2017 results show stability or a steady increase in positive perceptions, but also identify opportunities to target resources – by industry and geography – on areas needing improvement.”
EDCKC ranked in the top two of six named business assistance programs in terms of awareness with more than two-thirds of those we work with being very satisfied or satisfied. While our professional staff provides a huge variety of services – connects businesses to industry resources and financing tools, advocates for them before statutory councils and City departments, expedites approval processes, assists in problem solving – these learnings inform the proactive programs EDCKC recommends for direct staff and funding investment, assuring that the City continues to grow as a desirable environment to attract, retain and expand business.