Name-change survey coming online this month

FLINT TWP. — Following up on its decision last month to commission a name-change survey, the board on Monday heard an explanation on the process Monday from Eric Bowe, a Detroit-based marketing expert who was hired to conduct the research.

Bowe proposed a four to eight minute survey to be conducted online around June 19-30. He’s aiming for as many responses as possible, ideally at least 20 percent, of the township’s 10,000 households and 1,500 businesses.

The survey will pose questions about six of 10 names supplied by a Suggestion Committee that met several months to probe a name change for the township. That group culled 10 names from more than 100 submitted by the public.

Bowe said the list of propose township names to be included in the survey should be limited to avoid survey fatigue – the point when respondents get tired of answering questions.

The list of names to be survey will be Carman Hills, the committee’s top choice; Garland, Dyewood Heights, Genesee Hills, West Haven and Westwood Hills.

Township board members also requested that Flint Township be added to the survey to give an option for those who do not want to change the township’s name.

Based on the Suggestion Committee’s goals, Bowe said the survey would ask respondents to evaluate each proposed name in terms of its sense of community, believability and marketing appeal.

In terms of creating a sense of community, the name should be identifiable with both residents and businesses, he said.

As far believability, the name should be rooted in community heritage and/or historical value including references to topographical features such as hills, farms or woods.

From a marketing perspective, the name should have a positive meaning for businesses.

Board members also alternate ways to survey community members who don’t use computers. Trustee Carol Pfaff-Dahl said she did not want to include senior citizens who might not be computer savvy.

Trustee Tom Klee volunteered to spend time at the senior center helping those lacking in computer skills. Bowe said that the township would be responsible for manually uploading survey responses collected that way.

Board members also discussed the cost and time efficiency of mailing postcards to notify stakeholders that the survey is being taken. Bowe’s proposed time line includes survey development until June 16, with the survey instrument being finalized by June 13. The proposed survey “fielding” would take place from approximately June 19-30. Bowe said that timeline could be extended based on the number of respondents received but that it would be best to avoid the July 4th holiday period when people will likely be too preoccupied to participate in a survey. He proposes that data retrieval and processing takes place July 5-7 and analysis from July 10 to August 1. His final report to the board would be presented at its August 7 meeting. That would include a proposed community name analysis. Jerry Preston, chairman of the Suggestion Committee, noted that if the township board decides to pursue a name change, the ultimate decision would be made by the Genesee County Board of Commissioners, based on the request of township property owners. The Suggestion Committee was formed last fall in response to concerns, especially from business owners, about the negative impact of the Flint contaminated water crisis. Flint Township’s water supply comes from Detroit and is not part of Flint’s problem. However, sharing a name with the city has resulted in some businesses deciding not to relocate in Flint Township and many restaurants having to post signs to reassure customers that they do not use Flint water. A majority of Suggestion Committee members hoped that removing the Flint name from the township could improve marketability and create a fresh start. Some committee members opposed the name change.

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