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Another reason to explore the quality of life here

A few months ago, Endeavor Insight released a report titled, “What do the best entrepreneurs want in a city?” Based on surveys and interviews with 150 founders of some of the nation’s fastest-growing companies, the researchers identified four key “lessons” about what these business innovators value in a metropolitan area.

Two of the lessons will surprise no one: Successful entrepreneurs want a location where they can hire from an ample pool of talented people, and they want ready access to customers and suppliers.

The other two key findings? One is that these company founders “rarely cite low tax rates or business-friendly regulations as reasons for starting a business in a specific city.” And at the top of the list drawn up by Endeavor Insight is the finding that “entrepreneurs at fast-growing firms usually decide where to live based on personal connections and quality-of-life factors many years before they start their firms.”

In other words, places with a strong sense of community and superior quality of life attract the types of people who succeed as entrepreneurs.

Does this sound like any place you know? Yeah, I thought it would.

The quality of life in the Rochester region is not exactly a secret. Indeed, in the past few years Rochester has been recognized by, among others, “Places Rated Almanac” (ranking sixth in its 25th edition) and Yahoo Travel (the Finger Lakes earned a place on its worldwide list of 10 “lakeside vacations that have it all”). But some people—here and elsewhere—seem unaware or doubtful of Rochester’s virtues as a place to live.

In part as a response to that, in 2003 we launched Explore Greater Rochester, a guide to all the region has to offer. Since then, Explore Greater Rochester has become multifaceted: It is an annual RBJ supplement, a website (with a mobile version), a digital publication, a page in the Friday print edition and a weekly email. They all have unique qualities but a common purpose: To help both residents and visitors discover what makes the Rochester region a special place.

As noted here a year ago, 2013 was a year of big changes for Explore Greater Rochester. Chief among them was our new partnership with Visit Rochester, the region’s premier tourism organization. With it, Explore Greater Rochester became the official Visit Rochester guide—and its reach, in print and online, grew dramatically. This partnership continues with the 2014 edition, delivered to RBJ subscribers as a supplement to this week’s issue and distributed to a wide geographic area by Visit Rochester.

The chapters in the print and digital editions of Explore Greater Rochester—not to mention its companion website, exploregreaterrochester.com—cover a wide range of topics including arts and entertainment, museums, sports and recreation, parks and gardens, special events, dining, shopping, wineries and easy day trips. (On the website, you can map out visits to the locations listed.) The new edition also has a redesigned Upfront section with a diverse sampling of things to see and do. But we make no claim to have included everything that gives Rochester a right to boast.

We see Explore Greater Rochester—in all its forms—as a place to start if you want to fully appreciate our region’s offerings, from the George Eastman House and the Strong National Museum of Play to the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra and Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival to Highland Park, the Lake Ontario shore and much more.

Do other cities have a lot of offer too? Sure. Does Rochester face economic challenges? Of course. But viewed in the context of the Endeavor Insight list, our region seems well-positioned for a bright future—with the makings of a strong knowledge-based workforce, a good location and, yes, a community that’s a good place to call home.

As for those tax rates and regulations that apparently don’t scare away many founders of fast-growth companies, well, we’re working on it.

5/9/14 (c) 2014 Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-546-8303 or email rbj@rbj.net.


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