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Sterling branding survey available today; officials looking for input

STERLING – The city needs the public’s help to define what its image should be.

Starting today, citizens across the Sauk Valley will get a chance to answer questions about what they see as the town’s best asset, what visitors most are attracted to and what attracts businesses to Sterling.

The survey is part of the city’s initiative to develop a brand to help market the city to potential investors, said Hadley Skeffington-Vos, assistant to City Manager Scott Shumard.

“We basically just want to understand what residents think of Sterling and what outsiders think of Sterling,” she said. “What are some issues, what are some challenges and what are the good things?”

In a letter to members of the Sauk Valley Area Chamber of Commerce, she defined a brand as “what people say when you’re not around.” Branding is “the process a community embarks upon to change, refine, or improve what people are saying about you,” Skeffington-Vos wrote.

The survey asks participants to rank from 1 to 6 what most residents in Sterling like. Among the choices are an affordable cost of living, downtown Sterling’s offerings, parks and green spaces or schools.

Another question asks what’s the town’s greatest opportunity for growth?

The information will be useful not only for the city’s image effort but also in setting city policy, Skeffington-Vos said.

The survey is not just limited to Sterling residents. Skeffington-Vos hopes people from Rock Falls, Dixon and neighboring communities take part; they will have a different neighboring community survey to take.

Among other things, they will be asked to describe Sterling to someone who has never been here, and will be asked what other Illinois community does Sterling desire to be like, and why?

The city is doing the survey itself to save money by not hiring a consultant, she said.

The survey also will be on the city’s Facebook page, and Skeffington-Vos is meeting with local Rotary groups to solicit participation.

The survey will be available for a month, then the results will be tabulated, posted online and presented to the City Council, she said.

To take the survey

The Sterling branding and identity survey will be available at at starting today.

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