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STARKVILLE, Miss. (WCBI) – Finding out what residents like best, and where they like to spend money are keys to helping a town grow.

To get those answers, Starkville and Mississippi State’s National Strategic Planning and Analysis Research Center are working together to engage in the buying power of the community through a survey.

The survey is for local residents, MSU students, faculty, and visitors to give the city an edge in luring new stores to the region.

The survey kicked off in April, and research experts say it’s off to a great start.

“We’ll start looking at these responses as these waves are complete. The student and faculty just wrapped up. We’re in the initial of phases reviewing that data, and so we’ll do this as more of a rolling process. We’ll move through as each survey finishes, take a look, and try to get an understanding of what’s unique about that group,” says NSPARC Deputy Executive Director, Dr. Michael Taquino.

Starkville gets the information, while the students get experience.

“The extra benefit of this survey, gathering the data, and really getting the city the kind of information on the community, and buying power, and interest is very important, but it’s also important to have this kind of opportunity for students to come, and get that real world experience in their area of interest,” says Taquino.

For education major Erin Ivey, it helps her understand how things run.

“I never really considered that taking surveys would be a part of, I don’t know, economic development in Starkville, but being able to be a part of this, and seeing that everybody is taken into account, what the local residents really want here,” says Ivey.

NSPARC student workers work 40 hours a week, and help with developing the survey, and making sure it gets out to the public.

“Occasionally, I will do one over the phone, and it has to do with consumer spending patterns, what stores, and restaurants people would be interested in. Most of the time, we’re just trying to email it out, because it is in-depth,” says NSPARC student worker, Abigail Arinder.

The survey is expected to be completed by the end of the summer.

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