Business Sense: Economic development starts with you

By Bill Prescott, For the Times-Standard
POSTED: 06/23/18

Successful businesses all share two traits: an exceptional product or service and extraordinary customer service. You must have these two qualities baked into the very core of your company.

Companies such as Uline have become wildly successful due to their laser focus on customer service. Have you ever called Uline to order supplies? It is an absolute joy; a cheerful person picks up the phone on the first ring and is ready to help you immediately. No phone tree and no hold music. They will ship you three sample products for free, which amazingly arrive the next day. The entire experience is so smooth and painless, it is hard to even consider shopping around for a different supplier.

What if we took this same ideology and applied it to economic development for the City of Eureka? The City of Eureka has an amazing potential to become an exceptional product and all of us have the power to offer exceptional customer service.

Eureka is currently riding a wave of positive energy. Our new Eureka Visitor Center in Old Town (240 E St.), our new Friday Evening Market in Old Town and the coming expansion of the Sequoia Zoo, including a canopy walk in the redwoods; are just three examples of Eureka becoming a world class destination, for both visitors and north coast locals.

Extraordinary customer service starts with us. Last Saturday, I was with my family having ice cream on the boardwalk. We met a young family visiting from Utah, considering moving to Eureka. It was so easy to sing the praises of our community. The family was already charmed, by the authentic nature of Eureka, but they were asking about the weather, schools and the airport.

This is boots on the ground economic development; to speak one-on-one about our community and cast it in a good light. I fear that if they had approached another person eating ice cream that day, they may have heard a different narrative, one laced with homelessness, illegal drugs and crime.

Every interaction we have has the potential to increase or decrease the value of our community. In business this often starts with how the phone is answered. If you call a business for information and the person picking up the phone is rude or apathetic to your needs, the chance of you giving this company your money drops significantly.

We have the the power to transform Eureka, and it starts with how we talk about ourselves. This may be a cultural change for many folks in Eureka, as we have been down on ourselves for far too long. Next time you want to put down our town, stop and think, what good will this do?
We are blessed to live and work in a beautiful, unique place. Yes, we need more jobs, yes we need more opportunity, and yes we need fewer empty store fronts, but these changes are possible and they begin with how you speak about Eureka.

Bill Prescott is the Marketing Communications Specialist for the Sun Valley Floral Farms, and a Commissioneron the City of Eureka Economic Development Commission. Bill can be reached at

Bill Prescott