The Age of the Entrepreneur continues apace. We are big believers in the theory that one of the recession's effects has been to encourage entrepreneurship. You have laid-off workers who are actually talented. You have lower opportunity costs for those who wish to strike out on their own instead of continuing old jobs. You have lowered costs for just about everything (we noted just yesterday that even advertising's cheaper). Put it all together, and you have a climate in which more people than ever before are going to be starting their own businesses--which, incidentally, is exactly what happened the last time we had a big recession (perhaps you've heard of the late-'80s/early-'90s recession, and its descendant, the '90s tech boom?).
A case in point: the New York restaurant industry. The New York Observer reports that New York City--a place, remember, that is disproportionately reliant upon the disproportionately devastated financial industry--saw an astounding 25% rise in applications for new restaurant permits during the first few months of the year.
In guessing at what has caused this trend--there's not really a definitive way to know for sure--the Observer suggests several possibilities we'd endorse, including, yes, "perhaps it's the surge of laid-off bankers looking for new career paths." But their best guess is that it reflects a softened retail real estate market: "rents on the storefront spaces ideal for restaurants continue to fall." In Manhattan, asking prices fell 11% across the borough since last autumn; in some neighborhoods, the drop was even steeper. The trend "provides an opening for entrepreneurs that can be hard to resist," the newspaper concludes.
It's good to know that no matter what havoc the recession may wreak, it is likely also to bring about a renewal of entrepreneurship, both for the economy writ large and for many talented and ambitious individuals. A robust and dynamic economy just may be in the offing.
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