Chequamegon Bay residents love where they live—and that’s good for business, according to the Northland College Center for Rural Communities.
The Center released results Tuesday from their study, “Roots in Chequamegon Bay: Opportunities for Strengthening Community Attachment,” showing that close to seventy percent of residents are highly attached to the Chequamegon Bay Area.
“This strong attachment bodes well for the region, indicating personal investment and emotional connections, essential ingredients for community and economic growth,” said Brandon Hofstedt, faculty director of the CRC, noting only 2.9 percent of residents feel unattached.
The report uses survey data collected from a representative sample of 496 residents in the region to examine how community values, attitudes and social ties relate to attachment to the Chequamegon Bay area in northern Wisconsin.
The report also identifies opportunities for investment in social infrastructure that have the potential to attract and retain residents and, in turn, spur community and economic growth.
“Recent research suggests that communities that have residents who feel strongly connected also have high rates of economic growth,” Hofstedt said. “The Chequamegon Bay area has a large number of people who are strongly attached to this place, and this is fuel for sustainable economic growth in the region.”
According to CRC researchers, studies on social capital and community attachment show that communities with residents who feel attached experience higher GDP growth.
“When residents are connected to the place they live in, they are less likely to move away, and are more likely to invest locally and contribute to the community,” Hofstedt said.
Findings show that the three most important social attributes connecting residents to where they live are their views on how invested in the community other residents are, their level of trust in different groups and if they experience the community as open and welcoming of others.
“These data suggest that we should invest in strategies that increase opportunities for connections, engagement in community life, and other social aspects of community that can strengthen attachment and promote development in the Chequamegon Bay area,” Hofstedt said.
The study looked at different demographic groups, how they view social aspects of community, and their respective levels of attachment.
Across all age groups, residents exhibit high levels of trust and civic engagement. However, residents forty years old and younger, and sixty-six and over, reported weak social ties.
“Our data shows that social ties have a strong relationship with attachment, so there is an investment opportunity for initiatives and programs to strengthen social ties for these two age groups,” Hofstedt said.
Data was collected between August of 2014 and June of 2015. The survey was sent to randomly selected households across the region including the city of Ashland, city of Washburn, town of Washburn, Barksdale, Bayview, city of Bayfield, town of Bayfield, La Pointe, Russell, and Red Cliff. Participants were asked to complete a survey via mail.
A total of 496 surveys were completed and returned for a response rate of 28.2 percent. This survey is designed to provide a baseline assessment of social capital measures for communities in the Chequamegon Bay area, and to capture quality of life measures important for community and economic development.
The CRC applies research-based solutions to social and economic challenges, partners with community members to build on local knowledge and promotes the long-term health and vitality of rural communities in the north woods region. For more information or a complete report visitwww.northland.edu/crc.