Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.
That’s the mantra of Ferris Bueller, hero to Gen-Xers and fans of late film director John Hughes. In it’s own way, the Pensacola Young Professionals annual Quality of Life survey is a chance to do just that.
The PYP survey doesn’t advocate creating the ultimate “skip day,” by crashing a parade, catching a Cubs game and impersonating the Sausage King of Chicago.
But it does give citizens a moment to stop and take a look at where we believe we are as a community now — and where we were back in 2008.
The polling was conducted by Mason-Dixon in June of 2017. The sample size of 800 mimics the demographics of Escambia County voters. Read the entire survey results here.
Generally, more people in Escambia County and in the City of Pensacola feel that things are heading in the right direction than they did last year — from 51 percent to 57 percent for county residents; and from 45 percent to 57 percent in the city.
— Job security remains a concern of about two-thirds of our neighbors — 62 percent of people are concerned about the security and future of their own job or the job of a family member. In 2008, that figure was 58 percent.
— For the most part, those surveyed think our area still struggles to respond to address new economic challenges and attract job growth. In 2008, 93 percent of those surveyed thought the county did a fair or poor job of addressing these challenges.
In 2017, that stands at 78 percent.
— The City of Pensacola gets better arks in the area of attracting new job growth. In 2017, the rating of fair or poor is 60 percent. In 2008, that figure was 90 percent. Improvement for sure, but with lots of room to grow on.
— Downtown Pensacola and the waterfront is the greatest improvement in the City in the last 10 years, according to 38 percent of those surveyed. That’s the largest percentage any area received.
— On the question of rating the quality of public schools, in 2008, 28 percent of those surveyed ranked schools excellent or good. In 2017, 29 percent of those surveyed gave public schools a good or excellent ranking.
So after all this time, the Quality of Life survey finds that Pensacola-area residents love the natural beauty, parks and outdoor playgrounds of the area, the access to good healthcare, the welcoming atmosphere for people from other ethnicities and cultures.
But we also carry a core of ambivalence and apprehension about well-prepared we are to meet the economic challenges of the future. That apprehension is also reflected in many of the metrics in the Studer Community Institute’s Pensacola Metro Dashboard.
The data shows us that this core has been with us since at least 2008. Which means it will take more than a trip to the Art Institute and a joyride in a cherry red sportscar to cure what ails us.
What ails us seems to be more than Ferris Bueller’s best skip day can counter.
One key to turning this frown upside down might be clearly communicating the economic development vision, mission and leadership for the city and county.
Forty percent of city residents and 47 percent of county residents say they disagree with the statement “I have confidence in the vision, plans and leadership for economic development…”
If we are to move forward toward prosperity, everyone needs to know what the plan is.
Otherwise we’re just spinning our wheels.