In South County, optimism about the state of business in the nation
By Rod Lee
Word from the website Wallet Hub just ahead of National Small Business Week that the nation’s current economic environment is a good one for persons looking to launch a company, or run one, comes as no surprise to Carl Kaliszewski of 511 Financial Group in Webster, Travis Blair of Graphics Unlimited in Dudley and Mark Mitchell of City Power Equipment in Charlton.
All three agree with the conclusions of a report issued by the personal-finance website in which it is revealed that: more than 50% of the U.S. population is currently working for a small business; seven in ten small business owners feel now is a good time to grow their company; 23% of business owners say companies will use savings from the Trump tax changes mainly for equipment and investor bonuses (another 12% will use them towards employee compensation); and 24% of business owners say National Small Business Week helps them.
Among the factors driving a mood of positivity in the country are low interest rates, commercial loans that are seemingly more readily available than in the recent past and a strong job market.
A longtime but not heavily publicized event on the calendar, National Small Business Week will take place May 5-11. Hackathons, award ceremonies, Twitter chats and a two-day virtual conference hosted by the U.S. Small Business Administration and SCORE are some of the elements factored into the observance.
Happening almost in unison with National Small Business Week is a public meeting at Point Breeze in Webster on the morning of May 15th from 8:00 to 10:00 o’clock at which three town administrators—Doug Willardson of Webster, Greg Balukonis of Dudley and Jennifer M. Callahan of Oxford—will share their thoughts about the state of economic development in their communities.
Commenting ahead of time on this event, Mr. Willardson said “we have taken a number of steps in the last couple of years to further economic development in Webster, more than perhaps any other community our size.”
These include all of the following, Mr. Willardson said:
-Adopting a single tax rate;
-Creating a grant and assistance program to help businesses in town or looking to locate in town;
-Holding predevelopment meetings where businesses can ask questions and become informed about the regulatory process;
-Offering online permitting to make the permitting process more convenient and timely;
-Investing in public infrastructure such as a new library and repaving of Main St., downtown;
-Reinvigorating our Economic Development Committee including adding representation from members of the business alliance and the local Chamber;
-Launching shop local initiatives to encourage patronizing local businesses;
-Being declared a federal opportunity zone to allow new businesses eligibility for new federal tax incentives;
-Improving the business atmosphere with new flower planters, signage, murals, etc.;
-Enforcing the cleanup of nuisance properties;
-Recruiting outreach to local, regional and national businesses and retailers;
-Pursuing funding for a town-wide market analysis for future business attraction;
-Supporting TIF and other tax incentives programs.
Mr. Kaliszewski of 511 Financial Group, a veteran of the insurance and equities field who has held a number of positions with organizations like the Webster-Dudley-Oxford Chamber of Commerce, the Webster-Dudley Rotary Club and the United Way, said during a telephone conversation “my personal opinion is I think it’s an excellent time in the U.S. for starting a business. The economy is slowing down, yes, but the climate is good if someone has entrepreneurial spirit and some get up and go.” Based in Webster, Mr. Kaliszewski is also a registered representative of The Investment Center Inc., a growing and successful broker-dealer agency founded more than thirty years ago.
Mr. Blair said he notices evidence of economic health in and outside of his sign shop at 7 W. Main St. in Dudley.
“What I see is, you have a lot of expansion taking place, more than new businesses starting up,” Mr. Blair, who prides himself on being an astute observer of the national, state and local economy, said. “So if you have three to five people at a construction company, say, that company might be adding two more workers and a truck and an excavator.
“There is starting to be more year-round work too. The climate change has begun there. I also see people feeling more comfortable about purchasing new equipment.
“One adverse effect, with not a lot of people unemployed, the cost of hiring is much higher than it was five years ago.”
Graphics Unlimited is benefiting from a new facility that has enabled Mr. Blair to broaden the scope of his product offerings. “We’re doing wall murals and we just wrapped a big boat,” he said.
Mr. Mitchell has operated City Power Equipment, at 73 Worcester Rd. in Charlton, for forty-one years. The business opened in 1978 and specializes in all sorts of lawn and outdoor equipment. He is a proud dealer of Ariens products (“machines dependable and durable enough to carry the Ariens name”).
He personally feels that “the best thing that happened to the economy is (President) Trump. Just this morning I heard that three steel manufacturers are going to build new plants.”
Mr. Mitchell describes City Power Equipment’s business flow as “slow and steady, we try to take care of our customers” with hands-on personal service including both sales and repairs, “not everything is the Internet.”
City Power Equipment’s reputation is built on quality products. “I sold my first Husqvarna in 1978,” he said.
With many brick-and-mortar businesses ceasing operations, City Power Equipment is bucking the trend while providing customers with an option to big-box stores—easily accessible on the northbound side of Rt. 20.
Contact Rod Lee at [email protected] or 774-232-2999.