Results of LIFE Study show region as safe, good place for family - October 7 2011

Report looks at strengths, challenges facing Southern Winnebago County
OSHKOSH, Wis. -- Nearly 200 got a fresh look at the area's strengths and opportunities for improvement with the release Friday, Oct. 7, 2011, of the 2011 Southern Winnebago County LIFE Study during a breakfast event at the Oshkosh Convention Center.

Read the Southern Winnebago County LIFE Study online

The LIFE (Leading Indicators For Excellence) Study is the result of 1.5 years of research on 10 key indicators for economic, physical and emotional wellbeing in the region. A community Steering Committee guided the research based on issues unique to Southern Winnebago County. Key baseline data was compared to past community surveys.

"What this study does is remind us that Southern Winnebago County is a great place to live, to work and to raise our families, but it also reminds us we have to continually be on guard to maintain this high quality of life and work to make this the best community," said Sue Panek, executive director of the Oshkosh Area United Way, a funding partner of the study.

"The study is important, particularly at this time when budgets are being reduced but needs are rising. This report will allow us to focus, to make sound funding decisions and measure our success."

The research was conducted by the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay Center for Public Affairs in coordination with St. Norbert College Strategic Research Institute. It was funded by the Oshkosh Area Community Foundation, Oshkosh Area United Way and the U.S. Venture Fund for Basic Needs.

The 2011 Southern Winnebago County LIFE Study includes input from 214 community leaders and 367 community members, focus groups from diverse community sectors, expert panels and secondary raw data.

The findings indicate that Southern Winnebago County has several critical strengths, including:
  • High satisfaction with quality of life
  • Affordable place to live, great for children and families
  • Economic conditions better than rest of nation
  • Significant community events impacting tourism
  • High quality of education at all levels
  • Student test scores higher than state averages
  • Lower crimes rates than the state or nation

In addition, the findings show some challenges and opportunities:
  • Access to health care and affordable housing
  • Creation of jobs that pay higher wages
  • Improving Infrastructure in the region
  • Lifestyle and health: obesity, smoking, binge drinking
  • Improving the image of Southern Winnebago
  • Support for children, youth and older adults

"I think the scope of this project has far exceeded anything that has been done in the past in Southern Winnebago County," said David Wegge, Executive Director of St. Norbert College Strategic Research Institute. "The LIFE report provides all sectors of the community - the private sector, government and nonprofit organizations - with the critical information they need to help promote the area as well as to assist them with their strategic planning, the establishment of priorities and the allocation of scarce resources."

The 2011 Southern Winnebago County LIFE Study is expected to be used by a variety community organizations, business and individuals, including nonprofits, municipal governments, school districts, businesses and groups interested in regional economic development and quality of life improvement opportunities.

LIFE Studies were conducted separately but simultaneously in communities in three metro regions of the Fox Valley, including Brown, Calumet, Outagamie and Winnebago counties.

The 2011 LIFE Study Regional Report was released Oct. 4 during a press conference in De Pere.
The unprecedented report compares key baseline data across the region. The first-of-its-kind collaboration between 10 funding partners found similar strengths and challenges in each area, providing regional quality of life improvement opportunities.

Printed publications are available from the study partners, including community foundations and United Ways in Oshkosh, the Fox Cities and Brown County. All LIFE Study reports can be accessed online at www.LifeStudy.info.

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