2021’s Best & Worst Small Cities to Start a Business

April 26, 2021

For Immediate Release

This has been an eye-opening and frankly embarrassing week for our community, after multiple news outlets reported on a national study that cited Westfield as the worst small town in America to start a business.

Westfield is a special place that has long been defined by our attractive downtown, and the unfortunate reality now is that our local economy is failing. While it should not take a bad news cycle to spark change, hopefully this can serve as the motivation for us to act.

For those who have not seen it, a recent study by WalletHub looked at over 20 different metrics to determine the best and worst small towns in America to start a small business. Unfortunately, Westfield came in dead last out of 1,337 cities.

Additionally, the New Jersey Senate Budget Committee singled out Westfield as an example of abusing COVID-19 grant monies distributed by the state for small business relief. Senator Sam Thompson wrote, “Westfield’s agency was given money to waste on frivolous expenditures. Their funded requests included: purchasing 3,000 canvas tote bags emblazoned with the agency’s logo; buying new ‘canvas covers for parkettes’; hiring a New York City-based consultant at a proposed cost of more than $200 per hour; and renting a storefront for a holiday greeting office.”

The fact is there are over 55,000 square feet of vacancies in our downtown, not counting Lord & Taylor. The abandoned stores and constant turnover of new business are obvious to anyone who passes through. We acknowledge that the private sector and specifically small businesses have shouldered the majority of the pain as a result of COVID-19; however, it appears as if competing downtowns such as Cranford and Summit are not struggling nearly as much as Westfield.

When Mayor Brindle ran for office, she said her top priority was revitalizing our downtown. While she may have tried to make a difference, her approach has simply failed. She has ignored concrete, well thought-out solutions in favor of splashy events and quick fixes. Her frivolous actions have drained 60% of the town’s surplus when what our local economy needed was long-term investment in our small businesses.

It is time for a change in local leadership in Westfield. The Mayor and Council are elected to serve as our leaders, not an exclusive party planning committee that doles out the tough decisions to commissions. We are a group of serious, innovative leaders with the experience and readiness to make a difference and put Westfield back at the top, rather than dead last in the country.

JoAnn Neylan, Candidate for Westfield Mayor
Amanda Como, Candidate for Westfield Town Council Ward 1
Denise Garrett, Candidate for Westfield Town Council Ward 2
Shawn Mullen, Candidate for Westfield Town Council Ward 3
James Restivo, Candidate for Westfield Town Council Ward 4