Intangibles … can often make all the difference

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John Powers for the KPBJ

When it comes to making well-informed business investment decisions — decisions about establishing, expanding, or even relocating a business — aggregating and analyzing hard market data is a wise place to start. However, for many individual business decision-makers the final factor may be an intangible one — “quality of life” — which can often be the dispositive factor when deciding where to invest, and hire, and operate your commercial enterprise.

As an economic developer, I’m often asked what draws businesses to Kitsap, what keeps businesses here and growing in our community? I reply the vast majority of businesses our alliance works with want to know, first and foremost, that there is an educated, skilled and productive labor pool available to fulfill their workforce needs. Businesses also want to know there is reliable essential infrastructure (transportation, power, water, sewer, and the ever more important telecommunication/fast fiber access) enabling them to operate at maximum capacity and easily access broader markets. Businesses want to know that government regulation and taxation is fair and balanced (“business friendly environment”). They want to know there is a robust supply chain to serve their operations and customers’ needs. And, businesses also want to know there is availability of top-notch professional services, in particular health care.

Finally, when business decision makers have gathered and run all the “numbers”, they often turn to examine another very important — yet intangible — factor influencing their decision to, or not to, start a business, invest in expanding an existing business, or hire more employees. That intangible factor is commonly referred to as “quality of life.”

Quality of life, in economic development terms*, is comprised of many elements: environmental stewardship and natural beauty; excellent schools; affordable housing stock; art, cultural, and recreational offerings; innovative entrepreneurial spirit; and strong and balanced social political capital — “community pride” — which includes a business friendly climate. (*Learn more about this important intangible in an excellent presentation by Jeff Finkle, CEcD International Economic Development CouncilKEDA is a proud to have been recognized by IEDC for its award-winning portfolio of videos featuring Kitsap’s quality of life, our series “Kitsap Connected Life & Work.”

It is this quintessential intangible factor that can be boiled down to a simple question: “Can I succeed and prosper in business ‘here;’ and, is it ‘here’ where I desire to live and to work?”

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