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The Huntington Biz Community's Current State: In Flux

Some business owners say there is reason to be cautiously optimistic.

Now that we are well into 2010, many Huntington residents have been looking around for signs of improvement and escalation from one of the worst economic recessions the area has seen. Residents seem to be prioritizing their spending in the face of the shaky economy. Some area restaurants retain most of their customers, yet most admit to the numbers being down. Also, while the first couple of months in the new year are never the boom time for businesses, this year has been especially harsh. Luckily, there is reason to be cautiously optimistic.

Dr. Luiza Raab-Pontecorvo, who co-owns the Atomic Tae Kwon Do/Maestri di Musica Family Arts and Health Center in Huntington with her husband Master Bart Pontecorvo, has noticed how most community businesses, even her own, have been touched by the recession. She observed, "It is quite scary how many businesses are going out of business. Every few weeks, another place is being closed. A new business starts to again collapse. In the same time, those who survive--thanks to a great level of service or the quality of their products--will become even stronger in their area."

Because she is aware of the difficult situation facing the community, Raab-Pontecorvo has a refreshing way of compassionately dealing with her customers, "We have several parents who lost jobs and are struggling to pay tuition. It is important that, during these times, we become supportive, and we do our best helping these families to keep them involved in school activities.  To do that, we are offering substantial discounts for multiple family members for certain period of time, and we are working on increasing number of scholarships for families in economic hardship."

This can-do and caring attitude has served the business well. It's even moving and expanding. In May 2010, it will be moving to new building. Music, Martial Arts, Dance and Yoga will be worked into the curriculum to create Atomic Tae Kwon Do/Maestri di Musica Family Arts and Health Center. Raab-Pontecorvo notes that these rewards and expansions come at a price to the business owners, "There are many sacrifices we have to make. To run the school, we (two owners) must expand our day of work to 14 hours because we can't afford hiring a secretary or a van driver for the after-school program. But the key is always patience, inventiveness, a high level of service and a 'never give up' attitude."

Rob Basso, the president of Advantage Payroll Services, notes that not all businesses are negatively impacted by the recession, "As we are in the payroll and human resources industry, we have vital information as to employment levels and salaries/pay from the surrounding area's employee base.  We have seen a stabilization in employer check counts and a small hiring trend in some industries. Our firm is capitalizing on the fact that our large, public competitors continue to raise prices, but cut services.  We have seen a significant increase in new sales, and we see 2010 as a growth year." Basso is also the execute producer and host of BassoOnBusiness.com. His business is a member of the Huntington Township Chamber of Commerce and he is also a Huntington resident.

The recession is hitting everybody, but it hits certain businesses in entirely different ways. Basso went on to observe, "I believe that some industries, such as the hospitality industry, are still suffering from the changing spending habits of the general public.  I feel there is a more positive attitude towards the future, but in remains unclear if we are actually doing better right now.  Attitude is important, but it can't solve some of the physical symptoms like bank lending practices, real estate slumps and the impending re-set of more variable rate mortgages."

As for reasons to be cautiosly optimistic, Basso noted, "I do see this challenging environment as a possible boon for entrepreneurs willing to buck the trend and try something new.  Many successful companies were started during a recession.  FedEx is a good example of one of these companies."

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