Survey lets Thiensville officials know what business owners want

Published on: 11/14/2012

Thiensville - Sign regulations, visibility from the street and the economy were among the highest concerns in the village's business community, based on results from a recently administered survey.

The village's Business Renaissance Commission conducted the survey and sent it to 75 percent of business owners in an effort to get a pulse of the opinions of the people behind the nearly 130 shops and services that have taken root in the community.

Trustees Kim Beck and David Lange said the goal behind the survey is to initiate dialogue with village businesses and potentially guide decisions at the Village Board level.

At a Committee of the Whole meeting last week, Beck and Lange shared the survey results with the Village Board.

About 90 businesses received the survey via email in mid-October, but none responded to it. A week later, two commissioners visited 72 of the businesses and received 18 responses back.

While the response is low for the overall business community, commissioners did see a few trends, including a perceived lack of support for independent retailers, traffic concerns and inequity with rules and regulations from one business to the next.

But there were other findings that resulted in positive results. A majority of the respondents, for example, expressed satisfaction with the cost of space in Thiensville, the availability of parking and level of taxes charged by entities serving the community.

'The people I visited were generally friendly and optimistic,' Lange said. 'I think they're pleased overall that something is happening.'

Beck added, 'I think it's a good survey. It's gotten people talking.'

Village President Van Mobley said signage has traditionally been one of the more challenging issues within Thiensville's business community. Responses, he said, could help guide future decisions.

'Signage is always a contentious issue,' Mobley said. 'But I don't think the Plan Commission is in love with the current sign code.'

Treffert said he was encouraged by the responses that indicated real estate in Thiensville was competitive with surrounding communities.

Moving forward, Beck said he and other members of the commission will be reaching out to Thiensville businesses and working toward increasing the response rate.

The commission was borne out of several goals that included creating a vision for the village's downtown area, developing an incubator program for businesses and recognizing the existing businesses within the community.

Eventually, the commission would like to work with the Thiensville Business Association to develop and maintain a directory of every business in the community. The directory would be placed on a website and likely be linked to Thiensville's official page.