Today, the St. Joseph Community Alliance released the results of the 2023 Community Survey and for the first time since 2010, all trendlines improved.
Change, good and bad, takes time. And change for the better takes a lot of coordinated effort. That’s where the Imagine St. Joseph 2040 plan has come in. The St. Joseph Chamber of Commerce and United Way of Greater St. Joseph came together with hundreds of community leaders and volunteers to form the plan in 2018. Work has been ongoing to grow prosperity, create a better place and invest in people since. The Community Alliance now leads the plan.
“The survey is validating the work that we’ve been doing,” said Tama Wagner, Director of the Community Alliance.
The survey was performed by the ETC Institute and reflected the age, race/ethnicity and gender of St. Joseph residents with a 95 percent level of confidence. The results showed that respondents ranked the following items higher than in the previous survey two years ago:
- As a place to work
- Overall quality of life in the City
- As a place to raise children
- Overall image of the City
- As a City that is moving in the right direction
- Overall appearance in the City
Moving the needle in the right direction can be attributed to the community’s leaders working together.
“There’s a misperception in the public that we’re butting heads,” said Marci Bennett, Executive Director of the St. Joseph Convention and Visitors Bureau. “When actually, we all come together to support the whole community.”
Wagner said that everywhere St. Joseph goes at the state and federal level, leaders are constantly commended for the community’s culture of collaboration.
Mayor John Josendale pointed to the fact of there being a lot of new faces in leadership in St. Joseph and around the table at Community Alliance meetings. The Community Alliance is made up of the Chamber, CVB, Buchanan County, City of St. Joseph, St. Joseph School District, Missouri Western State University, Mosaic Life Care, the United Way and the 139th Airlift Wing.
He pointed out some of the new leaders in the room for the press conference including Dr. Elizabeth Kennedy, of MWSU; Natalie Redmond, of the Chamber; Scott Nelson, of the County; Dr. Gabe Edgar, of the School District and himself and Bryan Carter of the City.
“All the leaders at the table truly want to make St. Joseph a better place,” he said.
Dr. Kennedy agreed.
“This is the right time for the City of St. Joseph,” she said. “We’re all very likeminded when it comes to St. Joseph’s future.”
When asked how the Imagine St. Joseph 2040 plan differs from previous community plans, Wagner said upon closer inspection, the plans don’t have too many differences in substance. However, there is one obvious difference.
“The previous plans had been set on the shelf,” she said. “These people are engaged. You have to have someone work it every day.”
So, the members of the Community Alliance will continue to lead the way to make change in the community and continue to improve the survey figures. Residents feel the most important issues facing St. Joseph include public safety, education, jobs and community appearance.
Some interesting findings in the survey – some of the top reasons people choose to live in St. Joseph are:
- Cost of living
- Safety and security and
- Quality health care