Support local businesses; the city of Kent does

DKS Editors

Even in this seemingly never-ending recession, it’s good to see the city of Kent is encouraging the growth of local businesses through its incubator program.

Through the program, the city provides subsidized leases to young businesses, two years and under, until they build and move into a new location in five years or less.

“The incubation concept gives them a low-cost opportunity to test their business model in the marketplace by being able to occupy subsidized lease space that is well below market rate so that they can keep whatever limited capital they have where it’s needed most — for business development purposes rather than paying for a roof over their head,” Kent City Manager Dave Ruller said in an e-mail interview with a Daily Kent Stater reporter.

Ruller’s right in that opening a business is always scary, especially in today’s economic climate.

Potential entrepreneurs could use a little government help in order to grow their business. If all goes smoothly, the business owner gets a thriving business with limited overhead, and the city gets a new reason for people to spend money in Kent, which is always good.

And hopefully, students and residents of Kent get a new place to hang out, get their hair done or eat.

Kudos to the city for being proactive in helping our small business owners when an astounding amount of new businesses close before they are able to find their market or give back to the community.

It’s nice to see the small business owner getting a break rather than the big corporations and chains that don’t need any help to establish themselves.

It’s also nice to see a city admitting that small, unique businesses are what it is trying to attract to the area. Many people, especially the college-aged, would prefer supporting a small business to a national chain.

In short, it just makes sense for Kent.

“Much of the strength and growth opportunities for the Kent economy comes from entrepreneurship and small niche business owners,” Ruller said. “So we work hard to offer programs and services to help cultivate those businesses and create a business climate where they can succeed.”

Before any one starts crying “socialism!” or “big government!” let’s see the program for what it is: an investment. Successful businesses in Kent mean more tax dollars, and more tax dollars means more improvements for the city and chances to invest all over again.

And why shouldn’t we give a little help to the underdog once in a while? If you have a good idea for a business you want to bring to Kent and just don’t have the capital to get it off the ground, someone should be willing to throw you a brief lifeline.

We applaud the city for agreeing, and hope to see more help for the small business owner soon.

The above editorial is the consensus opinion of the Daily Kent Stater editorial board.