Sangamon County residents say they want to see more economic development and population growth. That’s according to a recent county-wide survey.
The Sangamon County Citizen Survey finds that two-thirds of those responding want more people to move here. Eighty-nine percent say developing downtown Springfield is also important for the county.
Dr. A.J. Simmons is the Director of the Institute for Legal, Legislative, and Policy Studies and the Survey Research Office at the University of Illinois Springfield, which conducted the biennial survey. “I think you are seeing more priority on growth that maybe hasn’t been here in recent years," he said.
"I think we are seeing folks taking that a little more serious."
Simmons said there has been a shift to promoting and branding the city as a good place to live and have a business. He said other small cities are doing the same thing and residents are taking notice.
The survey also shows Sangamon County residents see obesity, opioid abuse and access to mental health care as serious problems in the county. More than half of respondents rank obesity as a very serious issue, while 44 percent say access to mental health is.
Simmons said the results were surprising. “We hear a lot and think a lot of opioid problems, and we are starting to hear more about mental health issues. But the obesity jumped out to me -- thought it would be there, but not necessarily number one.”
These numbers could encourage more research to dig into why people think the way they do, Simmons said.
But not everything is negative. Simmons said residents are content with their overall quality of life, their children's public education and parks.
NPR Illinois discussed other results with Simmons. Listen to the interview here and read the survey findings here.