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Sacramento is Entering a League of Its OwnBy Benjamin Reeves

The capital of California has had a cow-town reputation for years, but a planned MLS stadium, real estate boom and new attention from the national business community may change that.

  • 2018 Farm to Fork Festival
  • Gold Country Vineyard

Sacramento’s moment in the zeitgeist began with 2017’s breakout film Lady Bird about a teenage girl imagining college life in New York while slowly coming to realize all the reasons she loves her hometown. It’s a sweet story, but what made the film unique was the way it showed off Sacramento as a city that could be at turns beguiling and beautiful. In the real world, people seem to be waking up to that fact as well.

A 2016 Infogroup study—which ranked cities based on their density of hipsters by looking at factors such as tattoo parlors, microbreweries, bicycle shops, independent coffee shops and record stores per 10,000 residents—dubbed California’s capital the fourth most hipster city in America behind Seattle, Portland and Denver. This may seem like a punch line, but music venues, bikeability and craft beer are big draws for upwardly mobile millennials. And it’s still relatively affordable. After seven years of surging prices, the housing market seems to have leveled out as interest rates have risen. And even after all those years of gains, the median home price is around $350,000, compared with $770,000 in the Bay Area.

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A local vineyard in Sacramento

There’s more to Sacramento than man buns and government jobs. While the city’s NBA franchise, the Kings, isn’t great, the team plays in a sparkling new arena that’s helped create some downtown buzz, and there are plans for a $252 million stadium to host Major League Soccer team Republic FC (St. Louis is also competing to win the expansion team). The city benefits from proximity to wine country as well, particularly Napa and the San Joaquin Valley, and the Wine Institute, which represents over 1,000 wineries, announced in April that it would leave San Francisco after 85 years for a new home in Sacramento.

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On the economic side, the Greater Sacramento Economic Council hosted a tour for national site selectors, consultants who pick locations for new facilities for major companies, for the first time in April. “There are a lot of people who want these site selectors’ time,” council president and CEO Barry Broome told the local NBC affiliate. “We had to build our credibility up as a community—build our credibility up as an organization—to be able to capture their time.”

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