APRIL 2, 2009BusinessWeek magazine: Kearney tops for startups
By TODD GOTTULA, Hub Staff Writer
Updated 04/01/2009 01:06:02 PM CDT
KEARNEY — Don Eckles knows a good place to do business when he sees it. Since founding Scooter’s Coffeehouse in 1998, the Omaha businessman has successfully grown his company to include 80 stores across the Midwest.
Last year, he opened two stores in Kearney, where he says the business climate is as strong as anywhere.
“When you look at Kearney, it offers so many of the things you like to see when building or expanding a business,” Eckles said. “From the minute you enter the city, you can feel the progressive nature of things and see it is a forward-thinking town.”
On Monday, BusinessWeek magazine named Kearney as having one of the top entrepreneurial climates in the U.S. for startup businesses. In a list called “Best Small Cities for Startups,” BusinessWeek pegged Kearney as Nebraska’s top city in the 20,000 to 200,000 range for start-up businesses. The magazine picked one city in each state.
Eckles agreed that Kearney should be touted as a place for its ease of doing business.
“There is a lot to like about Kearney,” Eckles said. “From the university and medical communities to the overall retail environment, it’s just a busy town with a lot of good people and positive leadership who support business.”
BusinessWeek profiled cities where high-growth companies could thrive and used 11 factors to gauge Kearney’s entrepreneurial climate, including availability of a young, talented and college-educated labor pool; existence of a thriving business community; the number of small businesses operating and new startups; and quality of life.
Kearney also was ranked on factors that included venture capital investment in the city, patents issued and sole proprietorships.
Using data from GIS Planning and ZoomProspector.com, BusinessWeek asked entrepreneurs in each city what people should know about starting a business there.
“A community like Kearney, I think, is a perfect place to start a small business and build it up to the point where you can replicate it out,” Dan Shundoff of Kearney told the magazine.
Shundoff is founder and CEO of IT services firm IntelliCom.
“Kearney’s market is diverse and balanced at the same time. We have all kinds of different businesses. We have four or five real core pillars to the economy,” Shundoff said. “It takes a lot of the valleys and the lows out of the equation.
“It creates a really healthy, progressive, confident type mind-set for the other businesses in the region,” Shundoff added. “Lending institutions are more apt to work with startups than the traditional asset-based lending that occurs with most banks in other markets.”
Kearney Business Climate
Labor force: 16,856
Startups per 1,000 people: 2.43
Small businesses per 1,000 people: 49
Some other “Best Small Cities for Startups” named by BusinessWeek: Boulder, Colo.; Ames, Iowa; Overland Park, Kan.; Eden Prairie, Minn.; Columbia, Mo.; Fargo, N.D.; Sioux Falls, S.D.;
Source: BusinessWeek magazine
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