By: Jennifer Quail, BEDC Director of Entrepreneur Support

Numbers can have quite an array of meanings for people, organizations and communities.  For instance, some adults are very willing to share the number of grand kids they have, the times they vacation overseas or their golf score, but not likely to share their age.  Youth look at numbers as milestones: becoming a teenager, being old enough to get a driver’s license, being considered an “adult” and able to vote.  Organizations and business may look at numbers regarding memberships, employees, longevity, profitability or net worth.

But what do numbers mean to a community?  Population comes to mind initially, but what other numbers are there, and what kind of an impact do they have?  There is the endless competition to be #1, which can be considered first or the best or sometimes both.  Numbers and rankings are relative, and for those of us that live in the rural regions of the nation, we are accustomed to hearing and seeing them for other larger communities.  However, this trend has been changing for Brookings!  Over the last few years our “number” has been showcasing Brookings as a unique, vibrant and family friendly community.  The following are 2016 and 2017 rankings: #1 Best Place to Live in SD, #2 Best School District in SD, Beautiful Small Towns in each State, Top 10 Finalist of America’s Main Streets and Top 100 Best Places to Live in America.

One such accolade that I’m especially excited about is being the 25th Best City for Entrepreneurs in the Nation!  This ranking was put out by Livability/Entrepreneur who looked at 2,000 cities before narrowing it down to the top 50 based on 15 indicators (http://livability.com/best-places/best-cities-for-entrepreneurs/2017).  Brookings was the smallest community in the top 25 with the next closest community in regards to size at 40,319 (Bozeman, MT) which has approximately 17,345 more people.

So, what was the ranking based on?  First and foremost, the finalists had to be a good city to start a business, one that supports startups and has a community of similarly driven people.  Brookings ranked especially well in the following areas:

  • second lowest unemployment,
  • second for high wage job growth,
  • second for per capita spending on food,
  • top 5 for affordable housing and
  • commute time was the lowest out of the 50.

But this isn’t news to the Brookings community; we have been supportive of startups for a long time and showcase this through a variety of ways, my position as Director of Entrepreneur Support with BEDC is one of them.  The Division of Entrepreneur Support provides free services to help entrepreneurs keep moving their idea forward.  As the One-Stop-Shop, we provide networking opportunities, educational programs, events and partner with service providers to help people start businesses!

As you can see there can be a lot “in a number”.  We believe Brookings is #1 and it’s great to see that the rest of the nation is beginning to see that as well!

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