Downtown Feedback from Employees and Residents

Michael Freilinger, Downtown Development Corporation of Peoria

The Downtown Development Corporation (DDC) has collaborated with the Downtown Advisory Commission (DAC) and Bradley University to conduct a survey of downtown residents and employees to gather information that will assist with marketing and project identification efforts. We believe the information collected will be an insightful tool for employers to use in their efforts to retain talent. The same data will also be beneficial as we continue to work towards developing downtown Peoria.

To begin the project, Dr. Mitch Griffin, professor of marketing at Bradley University, facilitated meetings with two groups of students—one group focused on downtown Peoria residents and the other on downtown employees. The DDC and DAC worked very closely with the students to develop a list of relevant questions that would be as concise and informative as possible. Much time was spent discussing goals and objectives for the surveys, as well as the target audience and process for collecting data. Once the two surveys were finetuned, the students reached out to residents and employees by emailing a survey link.

Downtown Residents Survey
The objective of the Downtown Residents Survey was to discover information that would assist the DDC and DAC with downtown development initiatives. Some of the survey questions were related to demographics of residents, opinions regarding current attractions and services, cleanliness and safety, along with overall satisfaction of living in downtown Peoria and what they would like to see develop in the area.

Based on the results of the sampling survey, the group summarized that there is a desire among residents for more downtown shopping—especially a grocery and/or convenient store. While the box stores in East Peoria are a convenient amenity to downtown residents, they do not fill all the needs nor support our city’s economy. In addition, many residents stated the desire for more community-minded developments, and would like to have more to choose from than just bars and nightclubs. These answers illustrate a growing demand to develop other kinds of services that will attract new residents and retain existing residents in downtown Peoria. It is clear that increasing efforts towards retaining younger residents now will build a stronger base in the future.

Downtown Employee Survey
The objective of the Downtown Employee Survey was to discover what amenities and services downtown employees would like to see added to downtown Peoria, along with identifying relevant issues that affect the quality of their experience—such as parking, cleanliness, safety and overall satisfaction working downtown. The results from the surveyed groups provided a great insight into downtown Peoria employees’ wants and needs.

Parking is an important topic for those who work downtown. It was discovered that most employees surveyed strongly dislike the reverse angled parking. In addition, although we have many good food options in downtown Peoria, most responded that they often choose to drive across the river for lunch. While this may be fine for the region as a whole, it is not supportive of the city’s local economy and businesses. For this reason, it would be helpful to consider how we can make our downtown restaurants and businesses easier to access during restricted lunch hour requirements. The DDC believes that increased parking options is one area we can improve the experience for employees and enhance the city’s economic development at the same time.

Opinions regarding cleanliness and safety by downtown employees were very positive, with the Warehouse District scoring the highest on both accounts.

We are encouraged to hear that overall satisfaction among downtown employees was high. It is very beneficial to be able to share this kind of direct feedback and information with potential developers and businesses that are considering moving to downtown Peoria. While there were many interesting results, an overwhelming amount of downtown employees and residents have a strong desire to see a grocery/convenience store located in the area. To see the entire survey results, visit downtownpeoria.us. iBi

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