Wonder what suburban residents need? Just ask

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Noblesville is in planning mode.

Three years after its first citizens' survey set helped officials set priorities for the growing community, Vision Noblesville leaders are preparing to ask again.

Housed in the Mayor’s Office and powered by volunteers, the “community listening” initiative has been working on five strategies intended to address issues like preparing residents for meaningful employment and aligning varied efforts to help the needy.

Its year-old Workforce Development Council, for example, created an internship program for Noblesville High School seniors that has placed 75 in part-time positions at local businesses, not-for-profits and city government.

Another 20 are getting hands-on experience as teaching interns, and about the same number are learning a trade at the Associated Builders and Contractors Institute, Mayor John Ditslear said Wednesday in his annual State of the City address.

“These students are gaining first-hand knowledge on how to function successfully in the business environment, and are also refining their own career goals,” he told a crowd of nearly 200 at a Noblesville Chamber of Commerce luncheon.

Results of the survey—administered by Colorado-based National Research Center Inc.—also guide the city’s budget and policy decisions. NCR comes up with most the questions, so results can be compared to those from peer cities.

But a few custom questions will explore residents’ preferences when it comes to housing stock, mass transit and sources of information about city services, said Vision Noblesville director Cindy Benedict.

The new survey will be mailed to more than 1,000 randomly selected households, and also will be available online. Results are expected to be available in late January.

City planners also have been seeking public feedback as they update Noblesville’s comprehensive land-use plan, essentially a guidebook for future development. A draft is expected to be presented at a public meeting late next month, Ditslear said.

Companies invested almost $27 million in commercial projects in Noblesville last year, the mayor said, and momentum is building as the economy continues to recover. The city issued 391 single-family housing permits last year, Ditslear said. The total so far this year: 351.

So what’s your take on life in Noblesville? What should city leaders move to the top of their to-do list?

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