And the downtown business survey says... ‘Crookston is a good place to conduct business’

Times Report
Crookston Times

    The Downtown Crookston Business Survey 2020 results have been tallied and the survey says…“Crookston is a good place to conduct business.” The survey was a collaborative project by a committee of residents from Ward 4 and the Downtown Crookston Development Partnership (DCDP) including committee members Brian Follette, Cass Kappelhoff, Sharon Lewis, Ken Myers and City Council member Don Cavalier. Shirley Iverson and Jess Bengtson from the DCDP also assisted with the development, distribution and collection of the surveys.

    The survey asked 23 questions and its data represents the 61 participating businesses who completed the packet. Also noted in the survey were the number of people employed downtown (278 full-time, 130 part-time, 20 seasonal) and the types of businesses located downtown which include one art gallery, one candy shop, two financial services, one manufacturing, eight retail, two automotive, one Chamber of Commerce, two floral, one photography, one social club, two contractors, one dry cleaner, six health care, two printing, one salon or spa, three churches, one fitness/recreation, six insurance offices, seven professional services, one theatre, two clinics, five food/restaurant, one job placement, one real estate, and one youth center.

    Questions asked and popular answers included:

    • Main Reasons For Locating In Downtown Crookston - Historically good access and visibility, minimal competition/established building, available office space with good parking

    • Business Satisfaction - Satisfied Ratings for: Cost of Doing Business, Access to Customers, Quality of Life, Proximity to Amenities, and Proximity to Transportation

    • Downtown’s Greatest Strengths - One-ways offer easy access, central location/safe/well-lit, access and historic buildings, architectural character of several downtown buildings, small cultural location

    • Business Satisfaction - Satisfied Ratings for: Safety Services, Support From Local Officials; Neutral Ratings for: New Residential Development, Access to Employees, City Permit Process

    • Challenges to Location Downtown - Dwindling businesses, traffic speeds too fast/CPD doesn’t enforce, parking/noon and supper hours, snow removal is horrible/business goes down 50%, clean it up/dumpsters overflowing/street and alley maintenance, attracting employees to move here

    • Business Performance - Positive Outlook in Growth Expectation (29 votes), No Changes Expected/Future is Uncertain (tied at 15 votes each), and A Possible Downsize (2 votes)

    • Future Optimism Feedback - Grow Crookston/Collaboration with City, Continuing Customer Loyalty, Getting Kitchen Running, Recent Remodeling, Bringing Large Businesses to Crookston

    • Plans to Stay in Current Location - Yes = 58 votes, No = 3 votes

    • Greatest Challenges - Limited building spaces/parking spaces/traffic speed, diminished population and loss of neighboring businesses, CHEDA and its allies deterrent to businesses located or wanting to locate downtown, getting people to eat here/order to go, convincing people to shop local, lack of support/lack of vision/need to revitalize master plan for downtown, shrinking population/businesses, keeping everything in store maintained/electronics

    • Obstacles for Downtown Business - Access to Parking (25 votes), Recruiting/Retaining Employees (19 votes), Ease of Access to Business (15 votes), HR Requirements (4 votes), Restrictive Business Regulations/E-Commerce/Internet Competition (tied at 3 votes each), Expensive/Unavailable Utilities (1 vote)

    • Topics of Interest for Downtown Businesses - Social Media Marketing (17 votes), Marketing Strategies (16 votes), Internet Marketing (14 votes), Business Planning (11 votes), Retirement Planning/Website Design (tied at 7 votes each), Hiring Made Easy/Legal/Reg. Requirements (tied at 6 votes each), Selling Techniques/Employee Benefit Plans/Labor Laws (tied at 4 votes each), Starting a Small Business (3 votes)

    • Interest in Crookston Loans/Grants - No = 41 votes, No Response = 12 votes, Yes = 8 votes

    • Local Government Resources and Action Comments - Aggressively try to bring in more businesses/Make Crookston a destination, More locally sponsored activities on what Crookston businesses have to offer, Paint murals on back and side of buildings/Beautification, Community Marketing & Shop Local, Create more walk and shop friendly environment, continue to encourage our residents to shop Crookston, tax incentives/breaks for period of time, assistance to improve buildings, central downtown promotion/rehab of historical buildings, want to be a bigger part of the community and encourage nonmember use, local government should attend leadership training

    • Interest in Shop Local Crookston gift cards - No = 40 votes, No Response = 11 votes, Yes (only if no cost to participate) = 7 votes, One-time setup fee to participate = 3 votes

    • Keep Customer Log for UMC Students - No = 43 votes, No Response = 12 votes, Yes = 6 votes

    • Interest in Increasing UMC Students as Customers - No Response = 33 votes, Yes = 25 votes, No = 3 votes

    • Quality Ratings - Snow Removal = Very Good, Street Repair/Condition = Fair, Street Cleaning = Good, Enforcing Traffic Laws = Good, Police Services = Very Good, Recreation Facilities = Good/Fair tie, Park Benches = No Response, Walking Paths = Good, Garbage Cans = Good, Updated Signage = Good

    • Interest in Development Partnership - 3-Year Property Tax Abatement =  No, Low/No Interest Loans = N/A, Water/Garbage Free 2 Years = N/A, Energy Efficiency Incentives = Yes, Property Improvement Grants = N/A

    • Importance of Downtown Components - Appearance/Cleanliness = Essential, Quality of Lighting = Very Important, Downtown Amenities = Very Important, New Downtown Amenities = Very Important, Crime Prevention = Essential, Cities Active Redevelopment = Very Important, Improving Infrastructure = Essential/Very Important tie, Planning and Land Use = Very Important, Condition of Streets = Very Important, Improving Safe Travel = Essential, Slowing Traffic = Somewhat Important, Importance of Expanding Programs for Youth = Very Important, Importance of Ease of Car Travel = Very Important, Public Transit = Very Important, Bicycle Travel = Very Important, By Foot = Very Important, Tri-Valley Bus = Very Important

    • Top 3 Items of Importance - Appearance/Cleanliness (15 votes), Improving Infrastructure (9 votes), Cities Active Redevelopment/Crime Prevention/Improving Safe Traffic (tied at 8 votes each)

Cover of the Downtown Crookston Business Survey 2020