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Survey: GF residents grow more attached to community

Grand Forks area-residents have grown more emotionally attached to their community in the past year, a new report from the Knight Foundation found. Perceptions about the beauty of the area's parks, its nightlife, the quality of its elected offici...

Grand Forks area-residents have grown more emotionally attached to their community in the past year, a new report from the Knight Foundation found.

Perceptions about the beauty of the area's parks, its nightlife, the quality of its elected officials, participation in elections and even that people care about one another all improved.

This was true for all demographics, though the biggest improvements came out of the 18 and younger and 18-to-34 groups. The former's community attachment score rose 6.2 percent and the latter's score rose 15.2 percent.

Knight Foundation program officer Anne Corriston speculated that efforts to attract and retain the area's youth population had begun to payoff.

"Sometimes you don't realize what you have until somebody points it out," she said. "There has been some strong community efforts on the part of some city leaders to share what they know are the great assets of the region."

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The report based its conclusions on interviews with 400 area residents.

Of the 26 communities that the foundation tracks, Grand Forks ranked second highest in attachment. There is some evidence that the more committed residents are to their community, the more likely the community will experience stronger economic growth, the foundation said.

The top ranking community was Bradenton, Fla., a city of 53,000 near St. Petersburg.

The 26 communities are those where the Knight Brothers owned newspapers.

Data points

Here's some findings from the foundation's report:

- The community attachment rating for the Grand Forks area, which includes Grand Forks County and Polk County, went up 6.1 percent to 4.03. The mean for similar Knight communities was 3.73.

For the 18-to-34 demographic, the improvement in perception was dramatic: Up 15.2 percent to 3.94. For the 18-and-younger set, the score was up 6.2 percent to 3.92.

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Community attachment is a combination of several factors that measure the psychological bond residents have to the community.

- The likelihood that Grand Forks area residents will stay or recommend that others move to the area went up 4.8 percent to 3.94. Similar Knight communities: 3.64.

For those 18 to 34, the score was up 9.1 percent to 3.85. For those 18 and younger, the score was up 4.9 percent to 3.82.

The pride area residents have in the area also went up 7.3 percent to 4.13. Similar Knight communities: 3.82.

For those 18 to 34, the score was up 21.8 percent to 4.03. For those 18 and younger, the score was up 8 percent to 4.03.

- Perception of safety and education, the area's traditional draws, went up slightly.

Education was up 1.7 percent to 2.4. Similar Knight communities: 2.01.

Safety was up 3.3 percent to 2.19. Similar Knight communities: 1.87.

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- Affordable housing, long considered scarce in Grand Forks proper, was up 12.3 percent to 1.73. Similar Knight communities: 1.68.

- Perceptions of the economy suffered, down 5 percent to 1.7. Similar Knight communities: 1.46.

- Residents thought more of their elected officials, up 3.7 percent to 1.68. Similar Knight communities: 1.44.

More thought community leaders represented their interests, up 2.6 percent to 1.6. Similar Knight communities: 1.4.

More approved of the leadership of elected officials, up 6.6 percent to 1.77. Similar Knight communities: 1.5.

- Perceptions of the area's parks, playgrounds and trails was up 7.1 percent to 2.27. Similar Knight communities: 2.04.

The "beauty or physical setting" of the area went up 5.9 percent to 1.98. Similar Knight communities: 2.08.

- Perception of the nightlife, a perpetual source of complaints, with the score going up 8.3 percent to 1.69. Incidentally, this is better than the perception of Duluth residents of their nightlife.

The 18-to-34 demographic, which arguably craves a vibrant nightlife the most, increased its rating by an astounding 20 percent to 1.56.

- Online: www.SouloftheCommunity.com .

Reach Tran at (701) 780-1248; (800) 477-6572, ext. 248; or send e-mail to ttran@gfherald.com .

Related Topics: POLK COUNTY
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