Likely so. However, having empirical evidence that validates these perceptions is important and useful as a first step toward moving the conversation forward. Additionally, the study explicitly identifies the community characteristics that impact residents’ emotional connection to their communities, which is critical to finding ways to build resident attachment.
The study also moves the conversation forward by examining the relationship between attachment and economic growth.
Survey information, raw data and key findings will be available on the study’s website for public review and feedback.
Leaders in three of the 26 cities surveyed – Miami, Charlotte and Detroit – already have plans in place to use the findings to help transform their communities. For example, The Miami Foundation, formerly Dade Community Foundation, will use the research to identify needs specific to the South Florida region – and address them through advocating for public policy changes or taking direct action.
Three community qualities – social offerings, openness and beauty – have consistently emerged as the leading drivers for community attachment over the study’s three years of research. They beat out other possible drivers such as perceptions of local economy, leadership and safety across all of the 26 cities included in the Knight Soul of the Community survey.
While we still can’t confirm that community attachment drives GDP, the correlation between economic growth and residents’ emotional attachment towards where they live has increased using updated GDP figures in the second third year of study.
We are giving it to community leaders (elected, business, nonprofit, government sectors) and the general public. We find that this information is of interest to many different sectors, so we are trying to disseminate the data as widely as possible. We encourage our communities to find ways to apply this information to their work and let us know what they are thinking about it. We also want folks to explore the raw data for themselves and see what other questions could be answered with the data – and to let us know what they are finding out.
Gallup’s researchers are continuing to look at this issue. However, in other places Gallup has found that in fact it is emotional attachment that drives GDP growth. If indeed community attachment drives local economic growth, then by pinpointing the qualities that drive residents’ loyalty and passion for their community, local leaders know which levers to push to influence both residents’ feelings about their community and potentially its economic well-being.