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"We're getting a [insert business here]?!": Demystifying why businesses come to Wilson

"We're getting a [insert business here]?!": Demystifying why businesses come to Wilson

"We're getting a [insert business here]?!":  Demystifying why businesses come to Wilson

One of the great things about living in a growing community like Wilson is watching as new businesses pop up to offer ever-expanding options for goods, services, and experiences.  It is a welcome dynamic that doesn’t happen in every community, and is a consequence of living in a desirable market.  While growth is good for the most part, it can also present some challenges like traffic congestion, increased demand for public services, and in some extreme cases, economic displacement or gentrification.  Fortunately, Wilson has a history of making sure these challenges are met head-on, with leadership dedicated to ensuring that the cost of growth doesn’t outweigh its benefit.
As consumers, it can also be a bit perplexing when a business opens that doesn’t quite match up to our expectations: “Don’t we have enough of [that type of business]?”; “Why don’t we get [this type of business]?”; “Why doesn’t [type of business] come here instead?”.
To answer these questions, it’s helpful to “follow the money” to explain how and why businesses choose to open where they do:

  1. Businesses exist to make money.
This seems like an obvious point, but no one starts a business with the expectation of failing.  Businesses are going to choose to open and locate in places that provide them with the greatest chance at success, or at least a reasonable return on their investment.  This can mean they choose the place with the greatest demand for their product, or highest concentration of customers, or most skilled available workers, or lowest cost to operate, or any number of other factors that contribute to profitability.  The most successful ventures work this out with pinpoint accuracy using sophisticated data analytics tools.  In these cases, the capriciousness of public opinion has nearly no impact at all on their decision making.
  1. It takes money to make money.
There are plenty of successful businesses that have started with nothing more than an idea and hard work.  However, by the time you see construction for a new business, know that their “overnight success” was very likely years, maybe decades, in the making.  Investors, commercial lenders, and financial partners all hedge their risk by choosing to fund businesses that have a track record of success, and a precise plan for how to keep it going (after all, investors, commercial lenders, and financial partners are all in the business of making money too!).  There is a direct correlation between a business’ chance of success, and its access to capital.
  1. There is no such thing as free money.
Apart, perhaps, from some well-intended and generous loved ones, no one is clamoring to give startup businesses money without any strings attached.  The idea of “grants” as a concept has been distorted to convince people that money exists to fund concepts with no demonstrated potential for success.  The (very) few governmental and charitable grant programs that do exist are typically tailored to meet specific end-goals like large-scale job creation or retention or the preservation of culturally significant property.  Even in these very limited cases, matching funds and reporting standards usually make access highly competitive and technically challenging.  Speculative business projects without conventional financing would find grant funding nearly impossible.
  1. Government can’t stop money…but it can slow it down.
Free enterprise, with limited government interference, is one of the hallmarks of American life.  But just because businesses enjoy a high degree of freedom doesn’t mean that any business can always locate wherever they would like.  Zoning laws, building codes, and other development ordinances are put in place to offer broad protections to the health, safety, and general welfare of the public.  However, outside of these fundamental regulations, government is extremely limited in its ability to require a business to locate in any one area.  A business that builds someplace does so not by government mandate, but by market-driven factors.  Likewise, there’s very little a unit of government can do to compel a business to locate somewhere when the cost of doing business doesn’t make sense.
When you take into consideration the money forces behind business decisions, you begin to understand why it is that certain enterprises are more successful than others, and how certain franchises flourish while others struggle to gain traction.  Development patterns also start to emerge:  like riding a wave, businesses follow the momentum of success started by others, and also find ways to avoid or abandon markets where support for their business doesn’t exist.
This is where you – the consumer – have all the power.  By supporting local businesses, you vote with your dollar to determine what types of businesses are considered attractive to the Wilson market.  Your buying trends, and those of other consumers, ultimately decide if Wilson is going to be chosen as the next site for your new favorite business.

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