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Every week Duncan residents jump into their cars and head out of town to go shopping, but what would it take for them to stay home and spend their money locally?

Duncan entrepreneurs and officials will find out soon.

The Local First Arizona Foundation will be conducting 15-minute surveys with more than two dozen people this month on that topic. The Town of Duncan provided the foundation a list of business owners, government employees, retirees and families so it can get their insight, said council member Deborah Mendelsohn.

According to their website, the 11-year-old foundation is statewide organization focused on building a “self-reliant economy for communities of all sizes.”

Mendelsohn, who also owns the Simpson Hotel in Duncan, said that when she and vice mayor Valerie Smith learned the town had Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act money available, they approached Town Manager John Basteen and fellow council members about the possibility of doing such a survey.

Kimber Lanning, executive director for the foundation, was a driving force behind downtown Phoenix’s revitalization efforts, Mendelsohn said.

Survey participants will be asked what items people travel to Safford and elsewhere for, what sorts of items can’t be purchased in Duncan and what could get them to shop locally, she said.

Once they are armed with that information, the town will be able to create targets and plans, Mendelsohn said.

“I think the survey will very beneficial to our understanding our needs and what we’re lacking,” Smith said. “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.”

In addition, the survey will help Duncan in its expansion efforts, but in a responsible way, Smith said.

The foundation will also create a video to market Duncan and entice people to the area, Mendelsohn said.

According to the foundation’s website, “the video can then be used to promote entrepreneurship, to attract new investment and new residents, through a vigorous online outreach campaign in collaboration with Local First Arizona, Greenlee County, the Greenlee County Tourism Council and a number of business-owned websites.”

Lastly, some money has been set aside to create a new website for the town since the current one is subpar, she said.

The town is devoting $7,500 to the survey and video and Freeport-McMoRan has agreed to pitch in $2,500.

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