Bend Is Great for Business? Really?

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Bend has made another of those “Top 10” lists, but this time it isn’t about skiing or mountain biking. Forbes magazine has proclaimed it one of “America’s Best Small Cities for Business and Careers.”

Say what? With unemployment hovering somewhere north of 14% and a foreclosure rate among the highest in the country, Forbes is telling us Bend is a terrific place to launch a business or a career?

Yep.

Examining metro areas with fewer than 250,000 people, the venerable business publication ranked them “on 12 metrics including costs (business and living), job growth (past and projected), income growth, educational attainment and projected economic growth. [It] also factored in quality of life issues like crime, cultural and recreational opportunities as well as net migration patterns. Lastly [it] examined the percentage of subprime mortgages handed out over a three-year stretch and the number of highly ranked four-year colleges in the area.”

And on the basis of all that, supposedly, Bend came in at Number 7.

In its story on the Forbes ratings, KTVZ quotes Jenn Moriguchi and Nicky Lamport, who moved here nine years ago from the Bay Area to open a small downtown business and are still enthusiastic about Bend.

“I really do feel that people are still moving here from all over,” Moriguchi said. “We meet people from all over the country all over the world all the time, and we're really lucky to be where we are.”

“Bend's been really great,” said Lamport. “There's a lot of modern, hip people that moved from the city” – I guess that means San Francisco? – “so we were completely well-received.”

But a couple of the comments on the Forbes site are less complimentary.

“berjie” writes: “I lived in Bend for almost 5 agonizing years and those were the good years 2004-2009, the winters are horrible and long and people move in and out on an average of 2 to 3 years. Anybody tells you that the sun shines 300 days they are full of sh.t. Its a backwards hick town, dont buy into the real estate agents BS. STAY AWAY, look for moderate climate and that is were [sic] people want to be and stay.”

More literate, but no less negative, was “xl?nlm,” who commented: “Moved to Bend, big mistake! Businesses are leaving (two big manufacturing last year), unemployment is in high teens [actually it’s only the mid-teens] restaurants may be locally owned but just marginal, huge foreclosure rate, commercial landlords think it will bounce back any minute so not cutting rates. Seriously, why is Bend on this list?”

Good question – at least to me. I’d like to think the writers and editors at Forbes are geniuses, their analysis is flawless and Bend really is an undiscovered paradise for business – but I’ve seen too many magazine puff pieces about Bend over the decades to put much faith in this one.


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