The health of our communities is directly tied to the health of our local businesses. We cannot have one without the other. Although in good economic times it is easy to lose sight of our region’s competiveness to attract and retain businesses in a world where many companies can operate from anywhere.
If our communities want more head-of-household jobs, which local economists report that the Tri-Counties are lacking, we must create a culture of competitiveness for businesses to thrive. For communities to be healthy and have the jobs they need, experts argue that we must be mindful to appreciate businesses so that they don’t move to other desirable locations throughout the West since capital and talent are transportable.
As one of several recent examples, San Luis Obispo–based MindBody went public on the NASDAQ and raised capital to create jobs and thrive in its new headquarters. This is a shining example that the Central Coast can be a great place to start and grow a business despite the high cost of living and the lack of workforce housing.
However, capital is key. What MindBody CEO Rick Stollmeyer has done successfully will help a company stay and create jobs. As a community, we should embrace that we will all benefit from higher-paying jobs and the time and treasury that these employees will provide to communities and nonprofits. Nonprofits argue that they are the first to feel a recession.
Keeping the Tri-Counties competitive for business in good times and bad is a reminder that if history repeats itself with a recession approximately every decade, our best guess is that the next “hurricane” is about three years out. And as hurricanes and recessions go, you don’t know exactly when they will hit, how intense they will be, or how long they will last. So let’s build strong foundations of both infrastructure and policies in good economic times to withstand the bad times.
If our communities are not mindful of the companies that create jobs and help pay for vital community services through taxes, we run the risk of driving them away to other places that also have a high quality of life but may be more competitive. Business leaders are sometimes forced to make the difficult decision to move or grow a company elsewhere out of necessity, not out of choice, so let’s help these business leaders make their decisions easier to benefit our communities.
Entrepreneurs on the Central Coast have worked hard and risked all to grow companies that create jobs and lasting benefits to our communities. They’ve earned our congratulations.
• Michael Manchak is president and CEO of the Economic Vitality Corp. of San Luis Obispo County.