Best Cities for Business
In today’s hyper-competitive global economy, Kent is literally competing with the thousands of cities for new businesses. The odds sound daunting but a recent report by University of Pepperdine Professor Michael Shires gives hope for small cities like Kent as he found the nation’s hotbeds for new entrepreneurial activity to be in unexpected places like Bellingham Washington, Morgantown West Virginia and St. George Utah.
Inc. Magazine calls it the “revenge of the boondocks” as smaller cities that were not historically considered business centers have discovered the power of being small. The rise of small cities is described as the most important emerging trend in 2006 and has centered around new businesses built around the internet, medical services and universities.
A look at the map shows the states that have benefitted most and those like Ohio that have struggled View the Map. Perhaps not surprisingly Ohio has few cities anywhere near the top of the list with Columbus landing at 266 and Akron at 314 out of a total of 393 cities analyzed.
The good news seems to be that the traditional economic advantages enjoyed in major urban business centers are increasingly less important and small cities have indeed broken through the glass ceiling. Now it’s up to us to say WHY NOT? in Kent.
With a growing list of companies like Alpha Micron, Kent Displays, RocketCalc and Liquid Learning, Kent is building a genuine entrepreneur community and as a result we’re raising our innovation quotient as a city. We need to put our growing innovation expertise into high gear with a deliberate focus on entrepreneurship and innovation. Rather than just benefiting from fortunate innovations and spin-offs that happen serendipitously in Kent, I want the city to be a catalyst to trigger more of them.
My goal is to create a frenetic entrepreneurial environment that has the ability to accelerate innovation. I want Kent to be a “Business Innovation Factory” with easy access to research, business and government. Ubiquitous experimentation and innovation must become synonymous with the Kent brand. We have a great opportunity to position the city of Kent as the inventor’s playground where great ideas take shape and are put to work in the name of innovation.
As a city, I always try to ask “what problem can we solve?” and I’ve come to believe that our strength is being able to help small businesses do what big businesses already do for themselves. Small businesses can’t afford R&D but that’s where the university can help fill-in. Small businesses typically have cash flow issues and that’s where the city can provide incubator space and tax incentives. And perhaps most importantly small businesses need networks and access to entrepreneur communities which is where our local businesses come into play. Together we create the synergy that makes our economic success possible.
In the speculative world of entrepreneurship we may fail 9 times out of 10, but there’s nothing stopping us from trying 10 times. I like those odds.