Once internet technology made it possible to conduct business from just about any location that had access to the web, we began to see business location decisions increasingly slide towards quality of life factors — which is good news for Kent since we think livability is one of our biggest advantages as a small town with big city amenities.
Hike and bike trails? Got it.
Farmer’s market? For over 20 years.
Walkable downtown? Check.
Outdoor recreation? Oh yeah.
Arts and culture? Definitely.
Natural resources? Got’em.
World class academics and sports? Yep, got those too.
Big city traffic congestion? Nope.
High cost of living? Not here.
High rates of crime? No way.
It’s logical that if business location is as ubiquitous as the web then the little things that make up daily life start to take on a greater meaning in business decisions. Thanks to our history, location, geography, size and scale, Kent has always held a lifestyle advantage — all we’re doing now is building on that lead by showcasing all those things that make Kent so uncommonly and unmistakably Kent, particularly in and around downtown which is our centerpiece.
In the old days location decisions tended to be “either – or” propositions but thanks to technology today you can find locations, like Kent, that let you have your cake and eat it too. Technology has moved the big city cheese and now mid-to-small sized cities can offer comparable economies of scale without forcing people to sacrifice quality of life. We’re entering the renaissance period for small cities that are positioned to be able to offer the best of both worlds and that’s right in Kent’s wheelhouse.
There’s been a lot of research on what makes communities livable, walkable, ride-able, etc., but I’m going to add one more to the list that I see growing in Kent — “sit-able.”
If our goal is to be the kind of destination that people come to soak in a little Kent, then we need to make sure there’s plenty of places to soak. Kent is full of outdoor enthusiasts but even our marathoners need places to sit, rest and recover — which is why we’re busy looking to beef up Kent’s “sit-ability” quotient.
In addition to the natural stone seating walls and sandstone blocks that we’ve strategically placed around downtown, we’re also adding more traditional benches and I’m pleased to report that less than an hour after getting a couple installed this Fall — they were in full use.