Belpre Area Chamber of Commerce seeking resident input with development survey

Updated: May. 21, 2021 at 2:31 PM EDT
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BELPRE, Ohio (WTAP) - The Belpre Area Chamber of Commerce has partnered with the Southeastern Ohio Port Authority, the Belpre Area Community Development Foundation, and the City of Belpre to create a survey asking residents about their priorities in regards to development in Belpre.

The goal of the survey is to gather data that will be used to determine strategies for improving Belpre in terms of business and economic prosperity, education, public lands, and more.

The survey also discusses a number of the city’s strengths, as laid out in the City of Belpre’s recent Economic Development Strategy report, and asks residents which strengths they feel are the most important to leverage. Those strengths include access to the Ohio River, the resources at Civitan Park, the transportation network, the presence of large employers, and workforce development and education.

The organizations have agreed upon 15 potential strategies for encouraging development in Belpre. For example, some of the strategies include reviewing and revising zoning regulations, implementing walkability improvements, establishing a city/school liaison committee, and more. The full report, along with all 15 strategies, can be viewed here.

The results of the survey will help to reveal which strategies residents are interested in most, and those will become the focus of upcoming development projects, said Karen Waller, executive director of the Belpre Area Chamber of Commerce.

“We were looking to see what aspects of the community we needed to focus on to provide a positive business climate here, a positive climate for home ownership, expansion of business, attracting business, attracting residents, educational development, and jobs development,” Waller said. “We had done some demographic studies before, but what we really needed was a plan, and to use this as a basis for some plans of action,” she added.

Jesse Roush, executive director of the Southeastern Ohio Port Authority and chair of the committee spearheading the survey, said the role of the survey is both to find out what residents care about most, and to provide data that will enable proactive implementation of development projects in Belpre.

“Belpre is unique in small communities in rural Appalachia right now, the fact that they’ve forward with a plan. They way that they really separate themselves from the rest of the communities in the region is actually executing the plan. A lot of these plans don’t get executed,” Roush said. “The questions were built out around the plan itself and the strategies, trying to seek as much input from stakeholders as we can so that we can make informed decisions. I think there have been conversations in the past amongst the community where sometimes they feel like they’re left out of the decision making process, or they weren’t asked to play a part in it, and this is the attempt to do that,” he added.

Roush said the survey has received responses from around 100 residents, and he would  ideally like to see about 600 participants in order to gain a representative picture of what residents are most concerned about.

Those who would like to participate in the survey can do so online here.

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