You know those surveys you fill out and then forget about? 

Do you ever wonder, but never know what other people said? 
Do you ever wonder if the input made a difference anywhere? 
Do you ever wonder if your responses were even read? 

Today I want to remind you about the survey posted right here in the Good Business column back in February; let you know that it has been and still is being read and  let you read what other people said.  The purpose of the survey was to get input on how to achieve one of the  goals proposed by the Economic Prosperity & Engagement theme group for the future of Chapel Hill.  The goal:  Foster the success of local business.

Here’s a sampling of responses from the survey.  As you read through them, I hope you will remember the quote I shared last week.  The purpose of gathering this information is not to knock down the ways business is done here, but to look for opportunities  to build, repair or remodel these ways so that Chapel Hill is an even better place to live, work and play.

What do you like about doing business in Chapel Hill?

  1. Good university town with a good reputation
  2. Mix of people and incomes
  3. Community ideals
  4. Attractive, family friendly city, small town feel
  5. Climate, culture, clean, safe
  6. Walkability
  7. Bright people/forward thinking/well educated
  8. Has its ups and downs but is more recession proof than other towns
  9. People try to keep their dollars here, even though difficult to do.
  10. Many people actively engaged to make it better
  11. The never ending stream of customers that come to the town because of the University
  12. I’ve been in business in Chapel Hill for 43 years and can’t think of anywhere I’d rather be.

40+ additional responses in complete document (see below)

What do you dislike about doing business in Chapel Hill?

  1. The Inspections department is difficult to work with at times.
  2. Not enough parking downtown
  3. PLEASE do not plan for more parking – it only encourages them!
  4. I miss the trolleys.
  5. It is more difficult (and takes longer) to obtain approval here than other communities in the Triangle.
  6. Staff is not service minded.
  7. Current Town Council’s attitude towards development.
  8. Restrictive sign ordinances/time consuming and expensive to navigate sign ordinances.
  9. It’s a difficult municipality in which to effectively advertise/promote your business.
  10. It’s a seasonal town which causes many of us to have to dip into savings by the end of summer or lay off the normal number of employees during the summer months.
  11. High rent, taxes and utilities.  Some of this is a function of low commercial space supply; some is function of poor government stewardship of finances.
  12. Property owners can’t afford to properly keep up their properties because they must spend so much money on taxes.
  13. Too much support for anarchists who require government resources but don’t believe in government.
  14. Town’s approach to panhandlers.
  15. Town officials and Chamber can often get stuck in their ways.

78+ additional responses in complete document (see below).

What could the town do to foster the success of your business? 

  1. I do not look to the Town to foster my success.  The town is my success.
  2. Provide more online services so I don’t have to go to Town Hall as much.
  3. Continue to foster facilitation instead of regulation.
  4. Create a Relationship Manager type of position to help take a business through all the hoops/departments to obtain approval or set up a time like Chatham County where a business can come into a room to meet to discuss his idea/needs with all departments present.
  5. Help with advertising to bring in more tourist dollars.
  6. Build up and not out.
  7. The Town should be trying to fill empty spaces now…and advocating for decent rents for the tenants so they can be locally owned.
  8. Take a supportive yet responsible stance on pro business related items that improve our tax base and overall business climate.  We need to grow the business base versus exporting jobs to other communities.
  9. Free up the process and allow some options for creative signage and advertising in these tough economic times.
  10. Be more welcoming to retail and commercial development; streamline the approval process.

40+ additional responses in complete document (below)

Back to a critical question posed at the start of this article:  Will this input make any difference?

Not if all we do is read it, then let it sit on the PDF shelf.

There’s much digging and discussion left to do.   With open minds and a constructive approach.

Participants of the Community Prosperity & Engagement theme group for the Vision 2020 process will be digging into the discussion at their meeting TOMORROW (Thursday, April 12) from 4:30 to 6:30 at Rashkis Elementary School.

PLEASE JOIN US.  Whether you’ve attended one, many or none of these meetings – it’s not too late.  PLEASE JOIN US!

If you can’t join us, please add comments below or send them to

And I’ll be sure to give you an update on the discussions and decisions in an upcoming column right here at

View the document below or use the buttons at lower right of image to download.

can’t see or access document?  use this link to get a PDF of Good Business Survey