What’s in store for local businesses as the region and the nation creep out of recession? The answers are as varied as the companies, employees and entrepreneurs who call the Asheville metropolitan area home.
For Maximina Lopez, who owns two small businesses in Rosman, working hard means giving yourself a chance to succeed. That attitude helped make her one of Mountain BizWorks’ Entrepreneurs of the Year. Others advocate taking a more thoughtful approach. “We’re all in this together when it comes to the reality of where business is going, due to the uncertainty of the economy,” says Bob Perlstein, who created the Asheville-based coupon company You Get We Give.
But whatever one’s business philosophy — and despite a still-unsettled job outlook in Western North Carolina, according to economists — the entrepreneurial spirit is strong. And small businesses, notes Margo Flood of the Environmental Leadership Center, “are leading the way.”
W.P. Hickman Co., a local manufacturer, recently announced a major expansion. CEO Scott Hickman remarks: “If we all just say we’re going to hunker in our bunker and wait for someone else to turn things around, then things won’t get turned around. We are the turnaround.”
In the following pages, you’ll meet some of the people who are charting, creating, supporting and grappling with the region’s shifting economic picture.