Expanded Outreach Boosts Public Engagement for Albemarle Strategic Plan

Centralina Regional Council has been a longtime partner of City of Albemarle’s strategic planning activities. In 2020, Centralina helped Albemarle, one of Centralina’s member governments, administer a community survey to gather public feedback on the current state of the community and a vision for the future. This survey received 1300 responses from residents, business-owners and other stakeholders interested in Albemarle’s future. City leaders used the survey input to develop the city’s vision and establish short and long-term priorities for the strategic plan, The City Council adopted the FY23-26 strategic plan in May 2022. 

With year two of Albemarle’s strategic plan implementation process under way, city officials were interested in gaining further input from the community to help measure the progress of strategic plan implementation. While the results of the 2020 survey were extensive, city leaders were interested in encouraging more participation to gain a deeper understanding of their progress and to formulate goals for their upcoming annual workplan.

In need of guidance, city officials again reached out to Centralina to assist with administering a 2023 community survey. Centralina worked with city staff to design a survey that built on the questions from the previous survey and captured the community’s perspectives on topics associated with quality of life, city governance and services, future opportunities for Albemarle and positive changes observed since 2020.  

In order to allow as many residents as possible the opportunity to provide feedback, city staff took a unique and innovative approach to promoting the survey, including:  

  • Offering the survey in both online and paper formats to make it as accessible as possible 
  • Providing the survey in multiple languages to reach diverse populations within the community 
  • Having the survey available on tablets at the annual Albemarle Christmas Parade so attendees could provide feedback at the event 
  • Collaborating with community partners to distribute the survey through Albemarle’s strong social networks 
  • Incentivizing participation by offering respondents an opportunity to enter a drawing to receive a gift card for completing the survey 

As a result of this increased, multi-pronged outreach, the City received 2200 responses to the survey, a 70% increase over the previous survey’s response rate. City officials are actively reviewing the survey feedback to measure strategic plan implementation progress and develop goals and tactics to include in Albemarle’s FY25 annual workplan.

Other communities interested in gathering public input through surveys can replicate Albemarle’s success by designing and implementing a similar approach. For assistance with your survey, community engagement or strategic planning efforts, contact Centralina at info@centralina.org.