Not long ago, consulting firm Ramsey Solutions published a list of the 10 best cities for a small business. While explanations of the rankings included common considerations such as population, sales tax rates, unemployment figures and the average cost of living, the descriptions of the winners also included other notable but less typical characteristics. As I read through the list, I realized that many of these small business-friendly assets are also available in our own little part of the country — and help support our local small businesses.
Ramsey put San Francisco at No. 1 — citing the city’s temperate weather and a beautiful international landmark in the Golden Gate Bridge as two of the reasons. Humboldt County definitely has the weather (at least for those tired of hundred-degree summers and/or snowy winters) and our majestic thousand-year-old redwoods grace visitors and longtime residents alike every day.
Austin, Texas, was noted for its thriving arts and music scene – and while the recent Redwood Coast Music Festival was a signature once-a-year event, live music every day of the week is the norm in many of our communities. And while we can also enjoy local art galleries, the growing inventory of public murals, painted utility boxes, sculptures and more in Eureka, Arcata and beyond means easy access to public art every day.
Minneapolis, Minnesota, was cited as a startup hub that prides itself on its small businesses, including local breweries and food trucks. Sounds familiar? The Ramsey folks also suggested Minneapolis as the place to go if you have a creative idea, but as home to the founders of Wing Inflatables, Marimba One, Kokatat, Locally Delicious and more, locals already know we’ve got them beat. And like Seattle, Humboldt also embraces local culture, often choosing to support local businesses over big corporations.
Nashville offers “fruity landscapes, rolling hills and friendly smiles,” notes Ramsey. Check, check and check again and while Ramsey noted that Boston has many eager college students, that has always been the case in Humboldt. Now with the university’s conversion to a Cal Poly, we will have even more.
I have to admit that before reading the list, I assumed that all communities benefit from strong small business development centers like ours. The North Coast SBDC often helps new and established businesses with free workshops, business advice and more — but those Humboldt’s familiar assets helped put Portland, Oregon on the list.
Every city identified in Ramsey’s Top Ten “Best Cities for Small Business” is home to 400,000 people or more and we don’t house that many across the county, but it’s clear that urban communities aren’t the only ones with the assets to support budding entrepreneurs . Humboldt also offers additional quality-of-life benefits to attract and retain the creative and engaged people small businesses need to thrive. We’re rich in community festivals, farm-to-table produce at our farmers markets and local grocery stores, have more outdoor activities than could be listed here, and enjoy proximity to beaches, rivers, and amazing views beyond count. We’re also home to friendly people and more relaxed, laid-back attitudes that make Humboldt a wonderful place to live.
Clearly the Ramsey people just haven’t found us yet…
Lynette Mullen is a local project manager and historian. She can be reached at [email protected]