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North Bend seeks financial feedback from consumers

NORTH BEND - A little piece of paper sunshine arrived in most North Bend mailboxes last week. No, probably not tax refunds just yet, but it does encourage shopping.

A consumer survey by the North Bend Economic Development Commission (EDC) was sent to 7,064 residences within the 98045 ZIP code area.

The survey is just one of several that are part of the EDC's Downtown and Business District Market Analysis project. The project's aim is to discover what visitors, residents, consumers and businesses like about the North Bend marketplace-and what it is lacking. The EDC has already surveyed businesses and will continue to survey visitors.

Tonie Cook, management analyst for the city, said the survey is based on a standardized survey developed by the Wisconsin Main Street Program that will allow the EDC to compare North Bend's business climate with other communities across the United States.

"The EDC selected that market analysis project because it was a community based approach for small rural communities," Cook said. "It's a really good way to find out what's best for our city, our future."

The 34-question consumer survey is simple to fill out and is due back to the EDC by April 22.

"It takes just a few minutes and is kind of fun," Cook said. "It talks about a lot of different issues in North Bend; where to get services, where people get their shopping needs met - if it's local or not."

The survey also asks about restaurants people enjoy or would like to see in North Bend, what kinds of leisure activities people like to participate in, parking, housing and special events.

"There's quite a bit of area that's zoned commercial/residential. We're looking for how people want housing, office, restaurants to look in downtown, on 'Main Street' as well as outside of the main street areas," Cook said. "We also ask what they think of different things in the city, not only where they buy products, but what they think downtown looks like and feels like to them."

The EDC is hoping to uncover what businesses prefer and what their needs for expansion are, what encourages people who live here to shop and use the services within the community and what businesses would be complimentary to the existing ones.

North Bend wants to have this information available for potential businesses, and it wants to know what types of sectors it should encourage to come to North Bend.

"We're also taking into consideration other commercial areas, not just downtown, but how we connect with visitors who come for recreation, the outlet mall, the train," said Cook.

North Bend has experienced a lot of growth in the last 10 years, so a survey such as this becomes necessary to get to know the needs and concerns of the people who have moved in, as well as those who have been living in North Bend for some time, Cook said.

So far, response to the survey has been positive. The EDC had already received 30 replies the day after the surveys arrived in mailboxes.

"I think people are really excited. The economic development commission members are actively involved in this and with their expertise and professionalism, they all bring great strengths to the table," Cook said.

The EDC will present the results of the survey to the Snoqualmie Valley Chamber of Commerce and the North Bend City Council. Survey results will also appear on the city's Web site.

Cook said it is preferable that residents respond to the survey on the city's Web site at http://ci.north-bend.wa.us. To access the information on the Web site, go to the homepage and click on "consumer survey." Residents may also mail their survey to P.O. Box 896, North Bend, or drop it off at City Hall, located at 211 Main Ave. N.

Those with questions regarding the survey are asked to contact Cook at (425) 888-1211. Cook also invites interested residents to attend EDC meetings at 8 a.m. on the first Thursday of every month at City Hall. The next meeting will be May 5.

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