Pensacola Young Professionals will release the results of the 2016 Quality of Life survey on Tuesday, Sept. 6.
Since the survey began, it has reflected an ambivalence in the community. That this is a great place to live — but not for everybody.
The survey has consistently given the area high marks as a place for retirees to live. But the results have been more mixed when it comes to the outlook families with children, entrepreneurs, young people, immigrants and people of racial or ethnic minorities are concerned.
The survey has been funded by Quint and Rishy Studer since 2008. The Studers are also the founders of the Studer Community Institute. Mason-Dixon conducts the polling and PYP, a networking and mentoring organization, directs the questions to the polling company.
In the 2015 version of the survey, suburban voters expressed ambivalence about the leadership of the city and county.
The education system was a spot, according to the 2015 survey, where many felt there was room for improvement.
In terms of workforce readiness, 42 percent of respondents said the Escambia County School system does a fair job of helping the community’s economic development. Another 24 percent said the system does a poor job.
But when asked what they thought would improve the education system, beyond volunteering, the survey showed little consensus.
Economic concerns and jobs remain an area where many residents have worries. That was true when the survey was first done in 2008 and remained true at least through last year.
It’s probably a safe bet that that will be the case for the 2016 version of the survey as well. While the boom at Navy Federal Credit Union near Beulah has brought needed jobs that pay better-than-most wages, people still remain concerned.
In a recent column, Allison Tyler Romer of the University of West Florida’s Haas Center for Business Research and Economic Development shared analysis of business growth in both Escambia and Santa Rosa counties since the Great Recession.
Romer wrote that historically Santa Rosa County recovered faster than Escambia County in slow economic times because of its booming population growth. But in that period from 2010 to 2014, the two-county area lost 203 businesses. In other times of economic recovery, Romer writes, the two-county area saw increases in the number of firms.
Clearly education and the economy are the pillars upon which our community will sink or swim. Progress in one boosts the other. So too when one lags, the other suffers.
Which makes investing in a solid educational foundation for our youngest children the best civic, economic, political and personal investment we can make.