ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT SURVEY RESULTS: Wilmington Wants Shopping & Dining District; Entertainment Venues; Experiential Businesses

Below is an announcement from the Wilmington Economic Development Committee:

WILMINGTON, MA — In January 2020, the WEDC conducted an online survey directed to residents, business owners and business professionals who work in Wilmington. The purpose of the survey was to gather important feedback and observations of people who live and work in the town of Wilmington about the town’s economy. Using this survey data and data from other sources, the WEDC intends to develop strategies toward reinforcing our local economy and promoting an atmosphere conducive to smart economic growth. This survey data will help the committee understand residents’ ideas about key business sectors that complement the fabric our community, are beneficial to the residents, and create jobs.

Through the month of January and into February 2020, over 1000 survey responses were gathered. At the conclusion of the survey, the intent was to gather the data, analyze it and begin the process of taking some strategic actions. Then the COVID-19 pandemic hit. The pandemic stalled this aspect of the WEDC’s efforts. While the pandemic is still having an impact on the national, state and local economy, the WEDC believes it is appropriate to reengage in this project to prepare for a Wilmington business community post-pandemic.

Attached HERE is the summary of the survey data that the committee will be using to help guide its efforts going forward. For the areas of the survey that allowed for open text entry, the use of the word clouds has been applied as a means of summarizing the response data into a visual, useful form.

Major takeaways from the survey results include:

  • Residents see the idea of “Community” as an asset of Wilmington. Business growth and economic development must reinforce and be consistent with this idea.
  • The Survey confirms residents generally agree with the findings of the UMass
    Donahue Institute Main Street Study.

    • Experiential Businesses are most likely to be well-received by residents
      and achieve success. These include restaurants and craft brewery/winery/taprooms.
    • Encourage local-owned dining options over national/regional chains.
    • Entertainment venues like bowling, laser tag, and other services that draw
      people out to shared experience with food and drink available.
  • Work towards creating a “Main Street” shopping & dining district conducive to
    foot traffic and social gathering and interactions.
  • Town would benefit from an organized, cohesive Marketing message promoting
    Wilmington assets for existing and prospective businesses.
  • Explore streamlining of zoning where appropriate to simplify siting of certain
    businesses and the process for them securing appropriate operating permits.

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