Small business owners are more optimistic now than they’ve been since before the recession. A nationwide poll, commissioned by Wells Fargo and conducted by Gallup, says twenty two percent of business owners with fewer than 20 employees plan to add workers over the next year.
Lua Technologies is a software startup that moved here from Oklahoma last summer with three employees. Now it’s up to seven, and cofounder Eli Bronner is on the hunt for more developers. He said even Silicon Valley can’t compare when it comes to a great environment for a startup.
“The bottom line is, New York is the place to build a business, especially a tech business. The ambition everyone has here, the hustle and bustle, it’s infectious and it’s a lot more productive than being out west,” said Bronner.
Tech startups are just one kind of small business driving growth in the city. Hugh O’Neill, Former New York State Deputy Secretary for Economic Development said a number of industries are booming, and many small businesses are benefitting from cut backs at big firms.
“A lot of the job growth in the city has been in retailing, in restaurant, but also in some of the higher value, high wage industries,” he said. “Citi Bank has fewer people, Verizon has shrunk, Con-Ed has shrunk somewhat. And I think over time that small businesses have picked up more and more of that slack.”
But one part of the city’s economic engine is hesitating. Eric Nelson runs a small investment fund on Wall Street—it’s just him and an intern. On one had, he’s facing the same conditions as everyone else, with a surplus of talent available due to cut backs at big banks. On the other, he’s concerned about the national debt and Euro crisis. For now, he’s waiting for a steadier economy before starting to hire.
“As much as I would like to be positive, there’s definitely a big asterisk next to it,” said Nelson. He and other small business owners say the biggest stumbling block to growing their payroll is access to financial capital.