NSPARC consumer survey in final phases

Staff Writer

A survey gauging community interests in future stores and restaurants, analyzing spending patterns and to gain insight on the collective buying power of the Starkville community is almost complete.

The survey is the first of its kind for the city, and Mississippi State University's National Strategic Planning and Analysis Center is conducting the study in partnership with the city and Greater Starkville Development Partnership. Data will be used to inform local, regional and state decision makers and economic development leaders on Starkville's prospects of attracting new growth and future businesses.

The study was prompted by NSPARC and city officials seeing the success of a similar consumer study conducted in Tuscaloosa. By compiling a more in-depth survey, NSPARC can better pinpoint the economic viability of the Starkville community, according to NSPARC Executive Director Domenico Parisi.

"When we are trying to bring a high-end retail service and large retailer, it's very hard to make the case for those businesses that we do have the buying power to meet the demand of the particular services with census data," Parisi said. "It excludes students and only sees Starkville as residents."

NSPARC is a research unit at MSU that uses smart data, analytical techniques and advanced technology to develop research-based solutions.

Started in March, NSPARC researchers completed the first wave of the study by surveying MSU students, faculty and staff, along with alumni and donors. Researchers are currently reaching out to randomly selected Starkville residents and visitors to finish the last phase of research.

"The survey will be a powerful data tool to be used by the city, partnership and MSU," NSPARC Communications Manager Carol Gifford said.

Those hoping to participate in the survey must wait on NSPARC to make contact, since the group previously completed its random sample selection process. All residents chosen will be notified via phone call asking for participation before any further information is requested.

"Starkville is a very complex community," Parisi said. "The survey recognizes that."

The project will finish its initial research around June 30, followed by a two-month analysis period followed by a final published report. NSPARC will publicly present its findings to the Starkville Board of Aldermen, Parisi said.

To incentivize participation, prize packages are available for survey participants.

Participants will be entered into drawings for a MSU or GSDP prize package. One MSU student will choose from an Apple or Android smart watch, with a MSU prize package of premium seating at an athletic event, Yeti cooler and tailgating gear, and Bulldog apparel to be given to one MSU faculty or staff member, alumnus, or resident. Visitors will be entered to win the "Starkville Weekend Getaway" that includes hotel accommodations, restaurant gift cars and tickets to one of the city's premier cultural events.

For more on the story, see our June 14 edition.