What Attracts Entrepreneurs to a City or a Small Municipality? How Does Salisbury Stack Up as an Entrepreneurial Magnet in 2018?

Posted on March 2, 2018

Steve Mensing, Editor

♦ Consider cities and even small municipalities across the United States well known for being entrepreneurial centers. A number of such cities exist Northern California and of course in the Silicon Valley. These cities are home to major institutions, large universities, research hospitals, industry clusters, a tremendous quality of life, often great natural beauty, a large body of entrepreneurs and their networks dwell there, a youthful population, a top ranked public school system, affluence, amenities, low cost housing, vast cultural and recreational assets–an excess of anything an entrepreneur could desire.

On first blush Salisbury would get a resounding thumbs down as an entrepreneurial magnet because it lacks all of the qualities mentioned in the first paragraph. But don’t sell Salisbury completely short. Real entrepreneurs will go anywhere where they see an unfulfilled opportunity and are willing to tap “old pluck” and ingenuity. In the old West entrepreneurs flocked to Deadwood in the Dakota territory and sold dry goods, grub, and firearms in this rough and tumble mining town. Sometimes entrepreneurs became wealthy. So “old pluck” and ingenuity paid off in a dangerous hardscrabble mining town beyond civilization and law and order. Sound familiar?

But what do entrepreneurs desire? What attracts entrepreneurs to a city or a small municipality? Numerous studies and surveys exist on what attracts entrepreneurs and their results pretty much mirror each other. Here is a list of those very important entrepreneurial attractants. As you read through the list, see how Salisbury or some other Rowan County municipality might qualify as being attractive to entrepreneurs.

Low costs in doing business.

Salisbury with its taxes, fees, Municipal District Tax, Storm water fees, codes, historic codes, and Salisbury-Rowan Utility bills are quite onerous. Leasing Downtown is problematic especially if the landlord sticks you with repair and renovation costs. Add to this the area’s lack of human traffic during business hours and parking.

Attractive business areas and districts.

Downtown looks blighted in many areas with many vacant storefronts.  Old mercantile buildings lack pizzazz and their upkeep is expensive.

How are the area’s major institutions such as colleges, universities, libraries, and hospitals? Are they well regarded?

Catawba is a pleasant small college, but not a major research hub.  Livingstone has a pretty good open door admissions policy.  The major institutions in Salisbury will not draw entrepreneurs.

A secure customer base and a sense of business opportunity.

Salisbury because of its 25% poverty and lack of spendable income will not offer a secure customer base.

Existing networks of entrepreneurs already there.

No existing networks of entrepreneurs.

Industrial clusters/company clusters that permit collaboration between entrepreneurs with similar interests.

Maybe funeral directors and real estate agents?

A welcoming attitude toward small business and entrepreneurs.

Some Downtown business owners may be desperate to lure the unknowing into their spider web on Friday night’s out.

Does the area possess walkability? Sidewalks?

In the Downtown, Historic District, Fulton-Heights, and around the Country Club areas they have sidewalks, but not much other places.

Do several high-speed internet companies operate in the area? Do they have competitive prices?

Salisbury has an abundance of high-speed internet with Spectrum and AT&T.  Fibrant is fairly pricey, has contracts, fees, and suffers periods of instability.  Salisbury’s residents are gouged for Fibrant backdoor style even though they don’t subscribe to the service.  They pay for it through water and sewer bills, taxes, fees, and lost core city services.

A large variety of restaurants, entertainment, movie theaters, theater, common interest groups, and music venues.

Some decent restaurants, some entertainment venues, amateur neighborhood theater, common interest groups, and music venues. Hurting in the movie theater category.  What Salisbury lacks in culture can be found on TV and on IPTV devices like ROKU, Fire TV, Apple TV, and Chromecast devices.

Are there research facilities in the area?


• Do friends and family live in the vicinity?

Only the reader can answer that.

Does the local government create unnecessary red tape and barriers such as excessive codes or show favoritism that newcomers must struggle through?


Are local public schools well-regarded?

In Salisbury the 4 public schools received 3 Ds and an F on the State’s Public Instruction report card.

Do entrepreneurial incubators and training programs exist in the area?

There is some recent talk of doing such activities over at the West End Plaza.

Is there good clean water available in the area at inexpensive rates?

The city water is suspect with reports of hexavalent chromium and asbestos particles in the water supply.  The city didn’t help itself when it employed the cliché used by cigarette and pesticide companies that no substantive evidence exists linking these substances with diseases, etc.  Water and sewer prices are high for Salisbury’s “cash cow” utility.  Now “smart meters” are turning customers pockets upside down.

Convenient airports and public transportation?

Yes.  Trains, public transportation, and the Mid-Piedmont Regional Airport exists here.

Low crime rates? Is the area safe?

Extreme crime.  The area is not safe.

Are the area’s streets and roads well maintained?

Poorly maintained.

Is there an active local economic development agency?

The local economic development agency is a non factor in the area.

Is the area a good place to raise a family or move one in? Is the area children friendly?

Not really.

Are very bright, talented, and creative people drawn to the area?

No.  Many have left the area in recent years.

How are the areas parks and recreation?

Okay. They could use some more youth activities and Boy’s and Girl’s Clubs.

A youthful population?

Tends toward older and retirement age folks.  The young leave after college for good jobs elsewhere.

Are homes affordable?


Does the community have much spendable income? Is the poverty rate low?

Poverty rate is high and spendable income is low.

Is the city or small municipality friendly toward cooperative ventures?

Haven’t seen any sign of any movement in this direction.

The community’s physical setting attractive?

A few nice spots, but many vacant and abandoned houses and buildings add to Salisbury’s blight.

Is there convenient shopping close at hand?

Yes Wallmart, the Tinseltown area, and in Carbarrus County Concord Mills and Afton Ridge.  People are going to the internet to make larger purchases.

Are local taxes reasonable?

Not really.

Is the local government business friendly?

Depends who you are.

Is a well-educated workforce available?


Are there local business incentives and grants available?


Are community banks and lending institutions friendly toward entrepreneurs?

If the person has a solid business plan, a decent track record, and the economy is healthy.

Would you be excited about calling this place home?

No.  People are leaving the area due to the extreme crime, lack of good jobs, poverty, bad schools, gang violence, and the subpar municipal services.

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