Sylva businesses express opinions in professor, student survey

A Western Carolina University political science and public affairs professor recently teamed with the town of Sylva to create a survey for business owners about their opinions on local issues and services.

Gibbs Knotts, associate professor of political science and associate dean of research and graduate studies, also worked with two honors students, Dee Frommer and Coley Phillips. Knotts and the students mailed the voluntary and confidential questionnaire to 289 businesses located in Sylva. Approximately 24 percent responded.

The results:

Seventy-five percent of respondents rated Sylva’s business climate as excellent or good.

Seventy-two percent would support the creation of a Sylva Business Association, 65 percent would join it and 16 percent would be willing to serve on its board.

Ninety-four percent of respondents said it was somewhat or very important to market Sylva locally, and 84 percent agreed it was important to market Sylva on a regional basis.

Eighty-eight percent of respondents rated Sylva’s police services as excellent or good, and 92 percent rated Sylva’s fire services as excellent or good.

Seventy-two percent of respondents were supportive of recycling services, while 42 percent expressed satisfaction with garbage collection.

“The survey provided a chance for political science students to get some real-world experience in obtaining data, analyzing the information and writing a report about their findings,” said Knotts. “At the same time, we are providing a service to our neighbors in the town of Sylva by arming municipal government officials and the local business community with information that may help guide their decisions.”