Last week I did a short interview on WPRO’s Morning News with Tara Granahan & Andrew Gobeil. I was invited on after a report on CNBC came out listing Rhode Island as the worst state for business. The morning show was looking for someone to voice the real-world view of starting a business here.
In preparing for the interview, I was forced to ponder the question I thought most likely to be asked: Why am I trying to start a business in the state that makes it the most difficult to succeed? After all, Massachusetts ranks right in the middle of the states at #28 and is just as close to my house as my chosen brewery location.
The short answer is that I didn’t think to check such rankings before starting the brewery! It’s more than that, though. Even knowing what I do now, I’d have stayed within our borders.
The real reason, I realized, is that the CNBC list ranks states on factors related to government and economics. A state, though, is much, much more than that. Rhode Island is the sum of its people, places and culture. In my years here I have met a lot of the people. I met my wife here and my best friends here. For years I played kickball with a league full of hundreds of very cool and interesting people. More recently I’ve played in a bocce league and enjoyed a new set of fun people there. My Wednesday running club is full of friends and acquaintances that I look forward to spending time with on a weekly basis. Outside of my social scenes, I see waitstaff, mill-mates and others that always greet me with a smile. It’s fair to say that there are a lot of great people.
There is never a shortage of fun things to do here, either. On the rare occasion that I do find myself bored, there is always the option of going to see an entertaining roller derby event, a play ranging from major touring companies to local community theater, baseball games, hockey games, arts festivals, waterfire, and the list goes on and on. My dilemma is never finding something to do or somewhere to eat, but which of the many options to choose from.
All of this is the Rhode Island I chose. I chose it as my home, and that inherently led to it being the home for my business. When I look forward, I don’t look at becoming part of the Rhode Island business scene, but of becoming part of the Rhode Island cultural and social scene. Of course you can’t have one without the other, but one is the motivation and the other is simply the canvas on which this will be created.