What attracts people to the cities in which they live? An Urban Institute study funded by the Knight Foundation set out to find the answers, and Bradenton was among the 26 cities in the study, which included four Florida cities.
The study surveyed roughly 11,000 people, and the metrics included overall satisfaction, local culture and lifestyle, and a preference to stay. Behavior, the study said, also affects attachment, such as the level of a person’s community investment, the diversity within their own social network and their willingness to stay in a community over a certain period of time.
Access to certain amenities increases attachment, as does access to cultural activities, the study said. In addition, those with access to recreational areas and safe places to live and work showed more attachment than people with access to jobs, affordable housing and schools.
Quality of life, the study found, meant more to low-income people and people of color, but those groups nationally reported less access to the amenities that people enjoy.
“This study shows that Bradenton has made great strides in providing access to critical amenities to the community and deepening community attachment,” said Lilly Weinberg, Knight’s senior director of community and national initiatives. “Improving access to recreational areas such as the riverfront through a variety of investment strategies that focus on engagement is an important step in making sure everyone in the community can access community amenities equally – especially during the COVID-19, where outside areas are of the utmost importance.”
Rating overall satisfaction on a scale between 1-5, Bradenton’s 3.93 was a tick over the national average, and 70% of those polled professed a preference to stay as opposed to the national average of 58%.
One of Bradenton’s attractive traits, according to the study, is easy access to recreational areas. A total of 94% of those surveyed said the access was above satisfactory as opposed to 85% nationally. However, 81% said there was easy access to highways, which was six percentage points lower than the national average. Access to affordable housing (46 percent) also fell below the national average.
Access to health care and dining and nightlife also ranked higher.
Of those who took part in the study, 46% of the households earned less than $35,000 a year compared to 38% nationally. Meanwhile, 82% were white, well above the national average, and only 7% lived in the city itself, well below the national average.
As for diversity within a person’s social network in Bradenton, three categories ranked lower than the national average percentage-wise: The percentage of people within a social network from a poorer area, someone of a different race, and someone who grew up speaking a different language.
The percentage of respondents who volunteered somewhere within the last 12 months was below the national average, and the percentage of people who attended a public meeting or donated money was near the national average.
One of the more positive indicators of the local economy, as well as to a person’s attachment to Bradenton, according to the study, was home ownership. Of those contacted, 61% owned a home as compared to 54% of the people who were polled nationally.