Duncan Town Manager John Basteen and council members are expected to learn this week what conclusions were drawn by the Local First Arizona Foundation when it interviewed 25 residents back in November about shopping local.
Lexie Krechel, rural community development manager, said she spoke with business owners, parents, city officials and others to find out what they believe is special about Duncan, their spending habits and their dreams for the town of 800.
Her finalized report is expected to be delivered this week.
“I think some of the highlights, as we talked to the residents, was just the support that everybody has for one another and just the love that they have for Duncan as a whole,” Krechel said. “Some of them have family who have been in the area for generations and just had nothing to say but positive things about the community and how everybody comes together to help one another. That’s just the way it’s always been. Then some people had just stumbled upon Duncan later in life and now it’s the place that they call home and they would never think to go anywhere else.”
She also discovered that it’s quite common for business owners to direct their customers to other local businesses and “spread the love,” Krechel said.
The Town of Duncan will also be posting this week a video on its newly-revamped website and Facebook page that was created by two Thatcher girls hired by Local First Arizona. It uses interviews conducted with local residents to highlight the town. It’s already been posted by the foundation on YouTube.
“I think the video will be a tool that can be used for new resident recruitment, potential employee recruitment and certainly business recruitment,” said Liza Noland, director of rural programs for the foundation. “We hope it sort of lives well beyond just the initial use and post and circulation and sort of becomes something that the town can use and that employers can use. We certainly will help share it as well.”
What happens next will be up to the Town Council and its budget, Noland said.
One community, upon receiving its report, discovered a need to work on customer service skills, she said. Another realized they needed to improve communication between the town and business owners. Another community saw the need for some planning and zoning initiatives, Noland said.
The study was funded by $7,500 in Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act money and $2,500 from Freeport-McMoRan, so while the foundation would like to provide additional help, it would depend upon the town’s budget, Noland said.
“We’re open to a presentation and certainly a discussion on next steps to see what they could potentially consider,” Noland said. “It really is about where they want to take it next.”
Back in November, Vice Mayor Valerie Smith said, “I think the survey will very beneficial to our understanding our needs and what we’re lacking. I think we have an idea of what we’re lacking, but having the data will help us when we’re looking for grants and help from non-profits.”
According to their website, the Local First Arizona Foundation is an 11-year-old statewide organization focused on building a “self-reliant economy for communities of all sizes.”