Sunday, August 06, 2006

Elgin survey results

In all, 40 percent of the survey respondents from communities including Algonquin, Bartlett, East Dundee, West Dundee, Geneva, Hoffman Estates, Lake in the Hills and St. Charles gave the city an excellent or good impression.

Another 46 percent gave the city an overall “fair” rating.

In Olafson’s mind, that means indifference, and that’s the group the city must strive to put in the good and excellent categories. (Elgin Daily Herald 8/6/06)

40 + 46 = 86% of respondents viewed Elgin as excellent, good or fair. Yet the Herald runs as its front page headline "Elgin finds reputation impedes it: Survey says many of its neighbors content to see The City to Watch from afar." What's that all about? And did they ever think what the impact of their ill-chosen headline would be on public perception? Ever heard of the marketing adage "Perception is truth?"

In any case, 14% negative reviews is not bad. If they're aiming for a 100% positive impression of Elgin, it's simply unrealistic. Most of their survey respondents come from homogenous communities that don't value the same things we value in Elgin. They drive to the casino and see blacks and Mexicans walking around National Street and that makes them feel unsafe. That's their problem not ours.

Despite the overall fair to positive impression, 81% of survey respondents said they feel downtown Elgin is not safe. I don't think there's any basis for this in crime statistics. I don't have figures for downtown, but look at Elgin's overall crime stats on Wikipedia. After Naperville, Elgin has the best numbers. Elgin's property crime index is at 52. Compare this with Rockford's 155, Joliet's 128, Waukegan's 125, or Peoria's whopping 169. Elgin's personal crime index is at 72. Again compare to Peoria at 174 or Rockford at 140. Only Naperville is safer than Elgin (If you were wondering about Chicago, it comes in at a horrendous 358 for personal crime and 173 for property crime). Elgin is not, as one survey respondent said, "a small city with big city problems." Truth be told, Elgin is among the safest cities for its size in America. In fact, Elgin is among the safest cities PERIOD. That's why our index numbers are below 100, the national average.

My recommendation to city officials: consistently and continually point out that Elgin is the second safest city in Illinois. Obviously the fine print will say "among cities of comparable size." But second is good. If you can't be number one, be number two. There's room in the mind for number two. An occasional full-page ad in area newspapers should get the message across.


Blogger stripestt said...

Nice words! I couldn't agree more. There are a lot of people who don't know how to cope with Elgin's diverse community. The negative comments in that article are truly based on ignorance. The city really needs a good marketer to get out and tell the story. It seems we spend a lot of time telling people how Elgin keeps changing when we should point out what we already have that is working. Of all of the places I have lived I would have to say Elgin has the most visible Police force I have ever seen.

The only criticism I have is the City's approach to homeless people and vagrants. It seems there isn't an approach. Do we have any type of outreach program for these people at all? What does the City and Community do to get these people off the streets and back on their feet again?

8:45 PM  
Blogger The Elginite said...

Hopefully PADS finds a permanent location. Nobody wants them for a neighbor so its tough.

From what I understand, some of the homeless are people who have been discharged from the Elgin Mental Hospital. It's uncertain that they can really "get back on their feet again."

3:51 PM  

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