The Hilltop Surveys SAU and Palmer Communities

Over the last couple of months, the Hilltop Campus Village (HCV) has had the opportunity to send out short surveys to St. Ambrose University and Palmer College. In general this is an effort to get a better picture of who are the residents of the Hilltop. It is our hope to provide a longer survey to the residents of the neighborhood in the near future as part of a deeper conversation to add context to that question so that we can also better tell the story of this neighborhood.

The HCV surveyed over 200 students faculty, and staff with 4 questions: Where Do You Live?, What Types of Restaurants Do You Want to See in the Hilltop?, What Kinds of Shops Are Needed in the Hilltop?, What Hilltop Businesses Have You Tried?.

So to begin, one might wonder why we asked the question “Where Do You Live?”. Along with the fact that we encouraged faculty and staff to fill out the survey, historically both campuses have had large portions of their student population that commute, sometimes great distances, to come to school. In 2022, the HCV requested a “Market Snapshot” from the Iowa Economic Development Authority. It found that in the census tracks that comprise the HCV, that only about 47% of the people that live in the HCV both live and work in the area of the Hilltop. Meaning we have a very transient population during the day. Further more about 40,000 people work within the census tracks that the HCV is apart of. So the question becomes what might make them stop and invest their money in the Hilltop.

The campuses when surveyed as to what they would like to see in the neighborhood had some interesting answers. Brunch / Breakfast restaurant was #1 for restaurants, while Bookstore was the #1 for type of store in the neighborhood. Brewery actually came in 4th which is surprising since there are no real drinking options in the neighborhood.

To note, I took out many of the name branded establishments (ex. Village Inn), because they were skewing the data. The Hilltop, while it is here to support all of the businesses in the neighborhood, is focused on helping sustain the small businesses that are so crucial to our neighborhoods.

The HCV hopes that as we head into 2024 that we can help with raising awareness about these businesses through events and other special marketing initiatives. Additionally the HCV is here to help provide technical resources for entrepreneurs and small business owners alike.