BEND, OR -- A new study reveals deeply engrained negative attitudes surrounding the growth of Bend. Ward Hubbell, President of Hubbell Communications, says that wasn’t always the case. "There was a study done in 2013 where people were really excited about the growth of Bend. And, that was coming off the heels of a recession and it would be expected that that would be the case." But, he tells KBND News, now that's changed, "We found in our study that 58% of the people in Bend view growth negatively."
Hubbell says it’s the result of growth most people have a problem with. "Growth is an inevitability and people have accepted that. And, what they want Bend’s leaders to do is to really prepare for and manage growth, and that means addressing things like congestion and affordability." He unveiled his report “It’s Not About Growth: Shifting the Conversation in Bend” at Tuesday night’s Chamber of Commerce What’s Brewing? event. Click HERE to read his full report.
Hubbell Communications spent six months on the research project, in partnership with the Bend Chamber. Based on the results of focus groups and statistically valid surveys, Hubbell says, people's attitudes improve when presented with positive aspects of growth, "If you tell people that $640 million a year is dumped into the Bend economy from tourism, every year, 70+% of the people say, ‘oh, I feel a little bit better about growth.’ If you tell them that 38% of the new businesses that have been formed in Bend in the last 10 years or so were started by relative newcomers to Bend, 70+% feel better about it." He adds, "If you tell them that the population has doubled, but the crime rate has stayed the same, about 50% view growth more favorably."
The study is part of Hubbell's larger “Better Communities” initiative that aims to help city leaders find real solutions for community concerns. He says 80% of Bend's residents want officials to take action on addressing growth-related problems, "I think the expectation is there’s going to be an infrastructure to accommodate it. And, there’s going to be a way for people in the middle class to enjoy Bend as much as people at the upper reaches of the economic scale."
Click HERE to listen to our full conversation with Ward Hubbell.