A recent report ranks St. Joseph 17th as one of “The Best Small Cities to Start a Small Business.”
“I think to be ranked in the top 20 across the U.S. for places to start small businesses is an incredible attribute for St. Joseph,” said Natalie Redmond, vice president of membership for the St. Joseph Chamber of Commerce, of the report conducted by Go.Verizon.com. “If you looked at some of the comments from the folks who did the ranking, they said things like, ‘These cities in the top 20 should be an inspiration for other cities across the country on how to make an environment conducive for small businesses.’”
The Go.Verizon.com study gathered and examined data from nearly 300 cities across the country that had populations between 50,000 and 75,000. Factors taken into account when ranking the cities included the education level of the workforce, commuting, income per capita, broadband access, ability to receive business loans and tax scores.
In what was an up-and-down year for small businesses, the St. Joseph community’s ability to band together was something exemplified by the city’s resiliency, according to Redmond.
“The community came together and supported small business like nothing I’ve ever seen and I’m really proud of St. Joe,” Redmond said.
Having to shift and pivot in different directions during the pandemic helped make businesses stronger — particularly during a time when many businesses dealt with circumstances out of their control.
At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, Kelsey Brown, co-owner of Painted Beauty and now Painted Beauty Boutique at 708 S. Woodbine Road, recalled the difficulties the business faced.
Brown said the three women who run the salon were out of work for almost eight weeks at one point in 2020. She said because of the loyalty of their clientele, she feels the business didn’t skip much of a beat when it reopened.
“It feels like it’s been forever ago since we did all that. It was hard,” Brown said. “Luckily, we have very loyal hair girls. They waited for us and we got busy when we opened back. It paid off after being closed for two months.”