Resident Attachment to St. Paul Fuels City Economy

A new Gallup study found that in St. Paul and 25 other U.S. cities, social offerings, openness, and beauty are the main drivers of community attachment-and that attachment translates to increased gross domestic product.

St. Paul residents are passionate about their community and, although that passion isn't driven by the local economy, it does helps fuel economic growth there, according to a Gallup study released Monday.

The third annual “Soul of the Community” report examined St. Paul and 25 other U.S. Cities over a period of three years. It found that three community qualities-social offerings, openness, and beauty-are the main drivers of community attachment. They are more important to residents than their perceptions of the local economy, leadership, safety, civic involvement, social capital, education, emotional well-being, and basic services.

The study found that the level of resident attachment in St. Paul is the highest that it has been since research began in 2008 and is significantly higher than other similar cities included in the study. In St. Paul, aesthetics was perceived as a community strength-particularly the area's parks, playgrounds, and trails. However, the city has a bit more work to do when it comes to social offerings and openness, both of which are key factors that emotionally connect residents to their communities. Still, high ratings for nightlife and a welcoming atmosphere for gay and lesbian individuals both helped to fuel positive momentum within the city, according to the survey results.

The study found a link between local gross domestic product (GDP) and residents' emotional bonds to a particular city. Communities with a higher percentage of attached residents also show higher levels of economic growth.

“Our theory is that when a community's residents are highly attached, they will spend more time there, spend more money; they're more productive and tend to be more entrepreneurial,” Jon Clifton, deputy director of the Gallup World Poll, said in a statement. Clifton conducted the survey with funding from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

The 26 cities studied were chosen because the well-known Knight Brothers owned newspapers in each of them. They vary in population size, economic levels, and how urban or rural they are. Gallup randomly surveyed 43,000 adults in the cities between 2008 and 2010.