As you walk, bike, or drive through Chico, businesses come alive from every corner of the city. Downtown, an art gallery looks out at a historic grand hotel, while a vintage record shop spins tunes across from City Hall. Along the oak and ginkgo-lined Esplanade, 19th-century homes share curbside with law and medical offices. The modern architecture of Meriam Park draws fusion restaurants, a country barn, and young energy. Off Hegan Lane, the buzz of industry mingles with the scent of freshly-baked bread, while the roar of jet engines and welders is another day of new opportunities at the airport facilities.
As the largest urban center north of Sacramento, Chico offers a relaxed, college-town feel to a unique blend of businesses big and small. Large chains, small mom-and-pop stores, burgeoning non-profits, and hopeful startups all have a place and a space, united by their entrepreneurial spirit and belief in community. This pioneering spirit has led to many notable companies recognized by Forbes in a portfolio of business sectors:
Homegrown in Chico means the opportunity to scale. Nothing says Chico quite like Sierra Nevada, started in a garage in the 1980s and now the largest privately held craft brewery in the United States. R.W. Knudsen juices was acquired by Smuckers, and Build.com was acquired by Ferguson plc, both of which continue to operate here in Chico. Square Deal Mattress factory, in business since 1920, continues to thrive under fourth-generation ownership. Lulus, once a mother-daughter-owned storefront, recently went public as a nearly $400 million dollar online retailer of clothing and accessories.
Looking for larger warehouse space for manufacturing? A high traffic area for retail or service? An up-and-coming area waiting for fresh new businesses? Chico has options for whatever project you might have in mind.
The city offers several distinct economic centers for large industry and commercial expansion, while smaller commercial, professional, retail, service, and medical offices are welcomed throughout the many diverse neighborhoods in Chico.
Local commercial realtors are keen supporters of new businesses and are easy to work with when looking for a commercial rental space. Not quite ready for the overhead of your own? Try a workshare space from places like OnFlume, tech incubator Chicostart, or newcomer Stoble Workspace, offering 17 offices and a variety of hourly desk rental options, with all utilities, printing—and coffee, included.
If you start a company, your Chico neighbors will be your most enthusiastic fans. Perhaps you want to stay small and curate a loyal tribe of customers and clients–you’ll find them here. Or maybe you have dreams of massive growth? Local legends can show you the way: ChicoBag, Jake Early, and Klean Kanteen are well-represented throughout California and beyond.
Pulling from the local Chico population, as well as the rest of Butte County and surrounding Tehama, Glenn, and Sutter Counties, the available workforce for Chico business is highly motivated, innovative, and talented. Chico State and Butte College students bring a youthful optimism and sharp media mind to the table, while graduates who came to school and stayed offer an abiding love of their adopted hometown. Both young and seasoned professionals join the ranks, either born and raised locally or transplanted, but all equally committed to a thriving local economy.
A local legend in its own right, Golden Valley Bank was founded in 2006 out of a need for a new locally owned and managed community and business focused bank. Today, it continues to strive towards its mission of being the “best bank in town” with services like the Business Economic Snapshot™ a report based on input from local business leaders created to help businesses understand local economic trends. It includes results from a survey of how local business leaders feel about the prospects of their own companies along with local, state, and national economies over the next 12 months.
Another local banking powerhouse, TriCounties Bank, opened its first offices off Pillsbury Road in 1975 when a group of farmers and small business owners decided to come together to create their own bank and assist local growers. Today, the bank has over 75 branches throughout California and now claims assets of more than $8 billion. In 2021, Forbes magazine ranked Tri Counties Bank as #2 for California in a “America’s Best In-State-Banks” survey. Tri Counties gives back to the community in many ways, raising funds for victims of wildfires and other philanthropic causes.