Why Salem? Why NOT?

A lot of people that we've met in the Salem area seem to be confused why we would land here.
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My wife and I moved to the Salem, Oregon area about 14 months ago. We had started our company in Silicon Valley and spent 5 years learning how to build a business from the ground up.

We were surrounded by tech millionaires and billionaires to be – even if we didn’t always know it. There is a tangible energy and prevailing attitude among a large part of the population in the Silicon Valley area that simply encourages entrepreneurship and building “your own thing”.

Being a startup company means doing whatever it takes to get off the ground, and in our case, that meant hitting the pavement and meeting new people.

So when we would meet new people and tell them that we were self-employed, very rarely did anyone ask the question, “Why would you start a business in Silicon Valley?”

It was just the thing to do. We wanted the freedom to make our own schedule and call our own shots. After years of building our business in San Jose (and around the world thanks to the internet), we were getting ready to find a new home base of operations that wasn’t so expensive and busy.

As chance would have it, we had to move relatively suddenly out of San Jose because our landlord was moving back into the house that we were renting at the time.

With the high cost of living in the area and since we are still in the startup stage of our business, we decided to check out other cities on the west coast.

A friend of ours had been recommending Salem for quite awhile and was able to help us find an apartment relatively quickly.

We started getting involved here in Salem right away – as we didn’t know many people in the area and didn’t have any existing business connections.

As we introduced ourselves, one of the most common questions we were asked was “Why Salem?”

It was often asked with a look of disgust.

I’ve been surprised every time anyone has asked me that, because for us, Salem has been a wonderful place to live so far.

So why Salem? I say, why NOT Salem?

ask why notIn a little over a year, we have created logos for the Chamber of Commerce for the Buy in the Mid-Valley program, self-published my first book, released my first album, hosted our first art gallery at the Ike Box, met and started working with some amazing people at the Small Business Development Center through Chemeketa Community College, taught a class on Trello, launched version 3.0 of our Reformation Designs website, did a superhero photo booth at the Northwest Comic Fest, had our first trade show at the Salem Mini Maker Faire, joined the volunteer video production crew with CCTV (ironically appearing on the home page), spoke to several classes of students in the various school districts about entrepreneurship, interviewed the speakers at the TEDx Salem event (thank you, CCTV), spoke at a social media panel through the Small Business Management program, and hosted our first ever Startup Salem event.

We even had reporters from the Statesman Journal approach us wanting to know more about Startup Salem.

All this while continuing to build our business at Reformation Designs (we run a creative branding agency) and working on various projects that are still to be announced.

And people tell me there’s nothing to do in this town.

So again I say, why NOT Salem?

Starting something new always takes work. Lots of it. And time.

We are building in Salem because we care about the city and the people we have met here.

We are building in Salem because we see potential where so many others just see status quo and boredom.

And that “why not?” attitude is the one that has sustained us and every entrepreneurial venture prior to anything we’ve ever built.

The next time someone asks you, dear reader, why you’re living/building/creating in Salem, I would challenge you to simply respond…

Why NOT Salem?

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