Survey addresses Montevallo tourism, service

By CHRISTINE BOATWRIGHT / Staff Writer

MONTEVALLO – The citizens and students of Montevallo voiced their opinions about the city in a survey recently conducted by a group of University of Alabama business students.

Montevallo City Councilmember Dee Woodham participates in the Women’s Initiative Program with the university’s business school, mentoring MBA students such as Caitlin Norton.

“In discussions with the student I’m mentoring (Norton), she came to a couple of city council meetings,” Woodham said. ” I said I wanted to develop some economic development. She said it was the perfect idea for a project.”

And so the concept of a city-improving survey began.

“Dee Woodham approached our professor about using our class, Small Business and Entrepreneurship Consulting, to create an economic development plan for the city of Montevallo,” Norton wrote in an email. “We first met with the city of Montevallo, and from there concluded we needed to do a survey.”

Woodham said she began by warning Norton, a first-year MBA student, and her four senior-year partners of the customary outcomes of such surveys.

“We told the students we’ve had these studies done, and they’re great ideas, but nothing ever comes of it, or relatively few things,” Woodham said. “A lot of what I asked the University of Alabama team to do is implementation.”

The group of students sent out two surveys, one to Montevallo residents and another to University of Montevallo students. The survey to the residents of Montevallo asked questions concerning life in the city, how often residents attend UM events or hear about events at UM and from what types of retail stores Montevallo citizens would benefit. Norton said 87 residents and 223 students responded to the survey.

Norton, her team and the participating city members created four objectives for the survey. The objects were as follows:

-Identify special events that can be hosted at the Alabama National Cemetery and benchmark other National Cemeteries to increase visitors to the cemetery, as well as provide visitors with incentives to visit other parts of the city.

-Enhance tourism in Montevallo by increasing the number of visitors, other than educational institutions, to the American Village, and to provide these guests with incentives to enjoy other attractions in the City of Montevallo and visit local businesses.

-Increase the awareness of campus activities in order to create a cooperative environment between The University of Montevallo and the city.

-Suggest a medium-priced retail store that would be appropriate for the atmosphere that the City of Montevallo is trying to portray.

“Based on these objectives we found the top restaurants in Montevallo to form sort of collaboration for the American Village objective,” Norton wrote. “We learned the percentage of students and residents who wanted to see an increase collaboration effort between the city and University, and, lastly, we learned about the shopping preferences of students and residents.”

To assist with implementation of survey results the following city members participated in the formation and execution of the survey: the Montevallo Chamber of Commerce Board and executive director, the University of Montevallo Stephens College of Business, the Montevallo Industrial Development Board, the Shelby County Economic Development Executive Director and the Montevallo mayor, City Council and staff.

“We’re excited about the University of Montevallo being involved,” Woodham said. “Hopefully we’ll use Montevallo MBA students to fill out ideas University of Alabama students are coming up with. We’ll be working closely together to make sure there’s follow up.”