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Polco News & Knowledge

Emerging COVID-19 Research Reveals Insights on How Local Governments Can Plan for the Future of Their Communities

Our Brave New World: COVID-19 and Local Government Disruption recording highlights how local government leaders can use data as we recover from COVID-19.

-Forward Together Virtual Conference Recording-

What does COVID-19 research tell us about challenges and opportunities for residents, local governments, and businesses? How has one local government and business organization used this data to innovate towards a post-COVID-19 reality?

In this recording from the Forward Together Virtual Conference speakers Michelle Kobayashi, Senior Vice President of Innovation for Polco / National Research Center (NRC); Rick Getschow, City Manager of Eden Prairie, Minnesota; and Katherine Correll, Executive Director of Downtown Colorado, Inc. discuss smart ideas on how to use the disruptive nature of COVID-19 to improve communities and governing.

Our Brave New World: COVID-19 and Local Government Disruption


A Framework for Disruption

COVID-19 has drastically altered our local governments and the communities they serve. We can apply a 21st century skills framework so that communities can become better and stronger over the next few months as a result of this disruption.

COVID-19 Research

Starting in March 2020 Polco/NRC has been doing resident, business, government, and non-profit surveys related to the impacts of COVID-19. 

According to Polco/NRC’s national survey from April, emotional health is the issue that most affects households throughout the United States. As of April, Americans are doing best in physical health, second best in economic health, and third best in emotional and social health. NRC/Polco will continue to monitor these facets of health over time.

Survey Trends By Age

Some trends in the data emerged related to age. While younger respondents are suffering more emotional health issues and struggles with losing their jobs, middle-aged respondents are struggling with caring for children as well as economic struggles. Older respondents are dealing with loss of retirement income.

Interestingly, middle-aged respondents rated their physical health the best out of the different age brackets. And, the oldest age group rated their emotional health the highest.  

Business Trends

According to Polco/NRC surveys, half or more businesses said that they cannot stay in business if a partial lockdown is in existence for more than six months. Many businesses are facing decreased revenue and temporary or permanent shutdowns.

On the flip side, businesses are rapidly innovating, collaborating, and moving to more online services. 

Government Trends 

Similar to businesses, local governments are facing substantial revenue loss and unexpected costs. 

They are also increasing partnerships with local and state agencies and adapting the services they provide. Residents are more pleased with their local governments now than they were pre-COVID.

One Local Government’s Response

Eden Prairie, Minn. has used Polco to ask residents questions since last May. However, since deciding to use the COVID-19 surveys through Polco, their subscribers rocketed from 329 to 1,341 subscribers as of this month.

Based on findings from the survey data, Eden Prairie’s leaders are able to make better plans moving forward. For example, the City focuses on communicating only City-specific information after finding that just 25% of residents get information about COVID-19 from the City. The City also maintains a COVID-19 portal after residents shared a desire to know how many cases are in the community. 

One Business Organization’s Response

Downtown Colorado, Inc.(DCI) is a statewide nonprofit organization that supports Colorado’s local economy.

To gauge their businesses’ needs, DCI sent out the Polco/NRC Business Survey and began to host weekly commercial district response calls. They also hosted a virtual summit to involve local businesses in creating solutions to pressing issues.

DCI then partnered with Partnership with Progressive Urban Management Associates to take all the data gathered from the surveys, phone calls, and design summit to create a dynamic tool that each community can use to move forward. 

Another resource that came about from gathering community feedback is a website that helps businesses understand the resources available and residents understand how to contribute to the businesses. 


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