Cost of living in SLO forces owners of B.O.B. Trailers and Strollers to Idaho

This article first appeared in The Tribune in December 2006.

The pressures of housing costs and the lack of affordable space to expand his business motivated Roger Malinowski to move his business -- B.O.B. Trailers and Strollers -- to Boise, Idaho, this past January.

Half of the company's employees moved as well, and nearly all have purchased a home in Boise. According to Money magazine, Boise was ranked one of the best places to live in 2006 with a median home price of $183,008.

The company has relocated to a facility that is three times the size of its former home in San Luis Obispo and costs about one-third of what it would here. Revenues are up 40 percent over last year, and the employee base has grown from 13 to 20.

"It was a simple mathematical exercise for us. If you are not selling into the local market, there is no reason to be located here from a business perspective, " said Malinowski. "Response to stress is flight or fight. We looked at the fight and we chose flight. It's a battle that we couldn't win."

That math makes it just as difficult for area employers to attract individuals living and working in other markets. Linda Quinones-Vaughan, a Bakersfield resident, had to turn down the position of program director for the Women's Business Partners program at Mission Community Services Corp. in San Luis Obispo this fall because of the cost of housing.

"The job was so attractive and I love San Luis Obispo, but our standard of living would have changed significantly, " said Quinones-Vaughan. "The cost of living was just too high to justify."

The departure of area businesses concerns Michael Manchak, president and chief executive officer of the Economic Vitality Corp. of San Luis Obispo County.

"This problem is worse today than it was a year ago and there are no signs of it getting better, " said Manchak, who works to promote the start-up, expansion and attraction of businesses in the county. "There are many groups of people working to solve this problem but the solutions have not come."