The study presented here was part of a larger consulting project focusing on resident, visitor and outside perceptions of Moore County. The insights gleaned were to inform a marketing campaign by the local economic development group Moore County Partners in Progress (PIP) to attract, retain and support talented residents; however, this chapter only features one portion of an online survey executed from 7 May - 10 July 2013. The survey was comprehensive in soliciting both forced-choice and open-ended responses from the sample regarding their impressions and perceptions of Moore County. More specifically, respondents were asked to comment on specific elements that shape the business environment, amenities within the county that shape the social and community environment, and their concerns about the county’s direction and pace of growth.
This chapter focuses on a set of descriptors for how residents view/ perceive towns within Moore County, as well as how they view/perceive the residents within the broader context of Moore County. In addition to identifying the most appropriate descriptors, a list of amenities available within the county was also provided. Respondents were asked to simply select the words they associated with the towns, and with the residents, and which amenities they felt were readily available/easily accessible in the Moore County area. These lists were created from Moore County marketing collateral (e.g. brochures and websites), discussions held with members of the PIP Marketing Committee, and literature describing the ideal community climate to support entrepreneurial activities that attract relocatees and tourists (Kline et al., 2012). In this regard, the descriptors/ amenities were intended to reflect important, intangible community elements that contribute to quality of life and vibrancy of the community, and are factors that have contributed to attracting tourists and new residents to the community. As such, these descriptors also provide insight into how residents view their community identity and if that identity is shared among different resident groups.
The PIP Marketing Committee provided feedback to the final version of the instrument. Snowball sampling was used with members of the PIP Marketing Committee distributing within their social networks, followed by the primary researcher also contacting representatives in the K-12 school system, the community college, local political groups, military-related organizations, faith communities, the business community and other prominent groups to ask for their cooperation and support in disseminating the survey. Because many of the networks extend beyond the county, impressions of non-residents were collected. This was intentional and related directly back to the overall project’s goals. Socio-demographic variables were explored (e.g. generation, gender, race, educational background, type of employment, household income), as well as characteristics of residents that define their association with Moore County (e.g. resident or non-resident, if they work in the county, if they live in the rural or urban part of the county and their length of residence in the county). Additionally, residents were asked to evaluate their level of entrepreneurial spirit. To determine if various residents view their county differently, chi-square analysis was conducted. Data analysis was conducted in SPSS 22.0.