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Community involvement and growth linked

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The more emotionally involved residents are in their communities, the more the communities grow economically, says a new study.

“The study is especially important in the current economic crisis because, beyond addressing immediate needs, communities will have to make smart choices to direct resources to areas that have the greatest impact on engaging the community,” says Warren Wright, managing partner for Gallup, which conducted the study with funding from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

While the two factors are related, however, it has not yet been determined whether emotional involvement affects economic growth or vice versa.

The qualities that make people love where they live include how welcoming a place is, social offerings such as entertainment venues and meeting places, and aesthetic factors such as green spaces, says the “Soul of the Community” study.

It generally takes at least three to six years for residents to feel highly engaged in their communities, says the study, which interviewed residents of 26 communities throughout the U.S.

But communities can take steps to engage residents earlier, such as helping new residents connect with others in the area.

On a smaller scale, increasing employees’ emotional connection to a company has been found to improve the company’s financial performance, says an earlier Gallup study.

The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation invests in projects that promote community vitality and growth throughout the U.S.

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