Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Boycotting the Great Recession, one by one

Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke said last month that the recession in the United States is likely over. He may be right on technical grounds, but it is painfully evident here in Provo that the local economy will not return to its pre-2008 glory for quite some time.

High-rise developments in downtown Provo are postponed. Plans for a new shopping center, once hailed as a vital addition to the local economy, are stagnant. And north of Provo in the small town of Lehi, proposals for a hotel complex designed by Frank Gehry (which would have included the tallest building in the state) have all but disappeared.

People around here are still optimistic about the future. There is no panic in the streets. But nobody really knows when recovery will come.

I personally know of at least five individuals that decided to boycott the recession and start their own business. It’s also what I did. After graduating from Brigham Young University at the end of 2007, bright-eyed and delighted with my fancy PR degree, the world quickly told me it wasn’t hiring. I searched for a job over the space of a year, traveling from Washington to Los Angeles and interviewing with dozens in between. There was nothing.

I finally decided to start my own business with a colleague of mine. Using skills and experience I already possessed, and turning my back on an ugly economic reality, I founded my own social media agency earlier this year.

Moral of the story: Folks here are tired of the recession. They want economic change, even if they have to fuel it themselves. They hear Mr. Bernanke say the recession is over, but their pockets and purses tell a different story.

For now, at least.

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