Salisbury named 16th-best place in U.S. to start a business

Published 7:30 pm Tuesday, April 23, 2019

SALISBURY — The personal-finance website WalletHub has ranked Salisbury as one of the best small cities to start a business in for 2019.

The personal finance website looked at the business-friendliness of 1,200 small cities across the U.S., and Salisbury ranked 16th in the country. Salisbury was first in average growth in the number of small businesses, one of the 18 factors WalletHub considered.

Elaine Spalding, president of the Rowan County Chamber of Commerce, said being ranked that high by WalletHub gets Salisbury’s name out there, along with the recent announcement by pet retailer Chewy that it will bring 1,200 jobs to Rowan County. 

“That just helps position the community for future business success,” Spalding said.

Spalding said the ranking also is representative of the work the Chamber of Commerce, the Rowan IDEA Center, the Small Business Center at Rowan-Cabarrus Community College and Downtown Salisbury Inc. have been doing together to “grow their own.”

Janet Pyatt, of Backcountry Peddler, and Michelle Pentoney, of Hive, are among the many small businesses who both opened in Salisbury within the past year.

Pyatt opened her living history mercantile business Aug. 21. Pyatt said few cities would support such a niche market like her store. Salisbury has been a pleasant place to do business with its quaint downtown, her relationships with other store owners and help from the city, Pyatt said.

Spalding said factors that aid small businesses include a healthy business climate and local business advocacy.

A good business climate can help someone open in a reasonable time frame, she said, and having “buy local” campaigns and a pro-business government that details processes step-by-step also helps. The Chamber of Commerce is vocal about initiatives that are positive and negative for businesses, she said.

Pentoney said the city was extremely helpful to her. She had one contact with the city of Salisbury and was notified about grants and other resources. Pentoney said Salisbury residents have an appreciation for the arts and handmade products. People often stop at the Hive and say Salisbury needed a store like hers.

The Salisbury Hive is her second location; the first was in Concord.

Barbara Hall, director of the Small Business Center at Rowan-Cabarrus Community College, said one of the benefits of the Salisbury community is that resources are available for small business owners and prospective business owners. Hall said the Small Business Success Forum on May 7, organized by the Small Business Center, represents such a resource for small business owners to learn and network.

The event is 8:30 p.m. to 2 p.m. at Kannapolis City Hall

Hall said people in city government understand the value of entrepreneurship and revitalizing downtown and the community.

Meanwhile, one of the concerns for people who want to start a business is a stable workforce, Hall said. 

Pyatt said she would like to see more foot traffic and downtown promotions to attract customers. Customers are enthusiastic about her store, even if they don’t buy something that day, she said.

Both Pyatt and Pentoney recommended Salisbury as a place to start a business, but they suggested researching the community by talking to other business owners and city officials and walking around the city.

“As new as this as I am, do your homework,” Pyatt said. “Make sure this is the right place to do your business.”

In the WalletHub report, Salisbury ranked 169th for office-space affordability, 132nd in labor costs, 114th in industry variety and 89th in cost of living.

Mooresville was ranked 60th, Kannapolis was ranked 164th and Concord was ranked 193rd among best places to start a business.

Last year, WalletHub ranked Salisbury as the 13th best place to start a business.