Location, Location, Location

As we come out the other side of COVID, the expansion of the cannabis industry is making up for lost time. Existing brands are expanding their reach into new local markets or even new states, and the list of states expanding their medical marijuana programs to include adult-use or creating first-time access to cannabis for their residents is long and growing.

I’m speaking with clients on a daily basis that are starting operations in states that most professionals don’t readily connect with cannabis –Alabama, Mississippi, South Dakota. Or operators in states outside the coveted locations of more mature markets, such as those in Missouri, Michigan, Ohio, or Oklahoma, are also looking for top talent for cultivation, manufacturing, and dispensary roles

Also daily, I’m talking with executive-level candidates that have strong opinions on where they want to be. My question is why limit your cannabis career by location?

You might be surprised at what you haven’t thought of in considering Southern states or the Midwest, and your desire to be firmly within a more trendy metro area could be limiting your opportunities.

Cost of Living Matters

As the cannabis industry matures, so does our cannabis talent. Financial goals take shape in the form of paying off student loans, buying your first starter home, maybe even starting a family in which case location preferences begin to include things like family-friendly communities and good school districts.

In looking at economic numbers, such as the cost of living index maintained at The Council for Community and Economic Research, I recognize many ‘desirable areas’ (as communicated by my candidates) have the highest cost of living in the US. Meanwhile, the least expensive urban areas include many of those in which the cannabis industry is taking hold. These overlooked areas could be a prime opportunity to take that next step in your career growth.

Yes, salaries are often shaped by the cost of living in a given market, but are not typically directly proportionate to the cost of living. Being open to a more affordable location usually translates into more disposable income which can be the starting point for your financial goals.

It Could Mean a Bigger Career Step

In a new market, you’re not stepping into a built-in ecosystem of cannabis professionals. Every fledgling organization is going to require ‘top of the organizational chart’ plant-touching talent to help them with start-up operations and the continuous operational refinement that every business goes through in their early stages.

Especially for those professionals that are ready to take that next step upward – perhaps from being a managerial team lead to a director of cultivation – the opportunity to take that big step upward can more readily be found in a new, quick-growing market than in a market that’s more established.

It’s All About Perspective

As someone that’s moved all around the country to take advantage of job opportunities, I can tell you with authority that just like everything else in life, there’s good with bad, and nowhere is perfect. Additionally, different areas suit our different stages in life.

I look back fondly at my first job out of college in downtown Chicago. I took an entry-level human resources role in a video game studio filled with young single professionals just starting out, and we took advantage of all the nightlife, activities, and experiences that the city had to offer. I will forever remember this as one of the most fun periods of my entire life!

However, life changes, and downtown Chicago is no longer for me. Since that time and our current location in Boulder, we’ve lived in Seattle, Austin, Los Angeles, Tulsa, San Francisco, and Los Angeles again. In each of those places, I have a long list of things that I loved in addition to reasons that these places no longer suit me today. Regardless, they all have their own personality and ‘way of life, and it was an adventure to explore and get to know each place.

An Open Mind Can Open Career Potential

Where you live and work is a tremendously personal decision, with myriad factors that are unique to you and your needs. Trying a new city or state for a few years, and approaching it with an open mind, can be an adventure! And it just might be an adventure that can accelerate your experience and open up even more paths in your career.