Opinion

Hometown values make good business sense

by Paul McConnell

Attorney at Law, Hansen

McConnell & Pellegrini

Eighteen years ago, my wife and I made a decision to move to north Snohomish County for the same reasons many of you made the same choice. Lower traffic volumes and less crime. Better schools and a great place to raise kids. More elbow room and clean air. But my business, banking, and most of my shopping remained in the larger urban communities to our south.

Gradually that changed. We discovered many wonderful, one-of-a-kind, proprietor-owned businesses that gave us better products right here than we could find by driving for miles down I-5. Little by little, my excursions south dwindled.

The final step was to separate from our lawfirm in Seattle and move our law practice to Marysville, to put our business life together with our home life in an integrated whole. This month, my business is celebrating its 10th year in Marysville and we’ve never looked back.

Still, I find many people in this wonderful community, and many local businesses continue to live the dual life. Enjoying the serenity of north county life, they take their service-related business south. As professionals, we have found within this community all of the services needed at a high level to run a healthy business. Our accounting, banking, printing, even our plumbing are all provided locally by outstanding professionals, who like us, came here for the lifestyle and found a life. As an added benefit, we’ve made many friends in the process.

I still find an old attitude at work, however, that South is somehow better, and we seem easily swayed by that image. As a young lawyer, I quickly learned that the quality of the lawyer was not determined by how many levels down you had to go to get parking, or how many levels up you had to go to find their office. I have found this negative, 2nd-best self-image still at work in Marysville, and it is simply not true. In my experience, our local professional community, be it medical, legal, educational, or financial, takes a back seat to nobody.

A difference exists, however. The people making their businesses here care about their Marysville neighbors, more than some faceless entity in a downtown office tower ever could. After all, this is our home.

As business people, from time to time, we review our expenses to see if they still make sense. We have found it easy to fall into familiar and sometimes expensive patterns that have long outlived their real usefulness. We have to act purposefully to identify such spending and change it.

In the same way, we need to scrutinize our business relationships. The fact is, no good reason exists to travel out of the community for our professional services. Local merchants want Marysville residents to “buy local.” As a business community, we need to do the same thing for our services.

It’s time to get the hyphens out of Marysville like “commuter-town” or “bedroom-community.” Those monikers permit us to see our community as less than what it should be, or what it is: our “hometown.” “Home” in every sense of the word. And as Dorothy said, whether for living or doing business, “there’s no place like home.”

Paul McConnell is a lawyer in Marysville with the firm of Hansen, McConnell & Pellegrini, and a resident of Smokey Point.

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