From the ashes of recession, new small businesses rise

Wichita EagleApril 8, 2010 

Just as business conditions are at their worst, many people are starting their own businesses.

Some smell opportunity in recession, some feel liberated by a layoff, and others are just looking for some income to get by.

There are no local figures to show exactly how many new businesses have been started, but anecdotal evidence shows interest is strong.

Ten to 12 people attend the weekly basic "starting a business" classes at the Small Business Development Center at Wichita State University.

Bill Ellison, chairman of the local SCORE chapter, is counseling 12 to 15 aspiring business owners a month.

And the local office of the U.S. Small Business Administration saw an uptick in loans going to new businesses in the past six months.

A quick search of the Web will turn up a long list of Fortune 500 companies started during recessions, such as General Electric, Hewlett-Packard and Microsoft.

A December SBA study showed that traditional start-ups fall as the economy falls. But, the study said, the number of people becoming self-employed, often laid-off workers trying to generate income, rises.

The newly self-employed includes Coleen Fountain, who was media director at Associated until she was laid off a couple years ago. She tried to find a job, but didn't want to move.

So, she has formed a company called the Dog Treatery and plans to start selling gourmet hand-baked dog biscuits over the Internet beginning in June at

Fountain said she made them as presents and started to think about a business after her friends encouraged her.

Getting into the business made sense, sounded like fun and keeps her busy, she said.

"It's not desperation," she said, "but we're used to two incomes. And we live in Riverside, so we have to keep putting money into the house."

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