"Knock on Wood" - It's Not Exactly Business as Usual in the Valley, but There's No Panic, Either

May 19, 2008

'Survival mode.' That's a term being seen and heard with increasing frequency these days as the media covers the ongoing economic downturn and how individuals, families, businesses, and municipalities are responding to life within it.

This phrase and others like it may accurately depict the current picture within some areas of the country, and even some parts of the Bay State, said Ken Albano -- putting the accent on 'may' -- but they're a bit overblown for the Pioneer Valley, where, it seems, most companies seem intent on doing more than merely surviving.

"A lot of people are saying, 'knock on wood, I'm doing OK,'" said Albano, a business law specialist with the Springfield-based firm Bacon and Wilson, who spoke about life for his clients, as well as for his law firm. "They're just not saying it very loud because they'd prefer to fly under the radar screen and not say they're doing OK, in case something happens."

Others used different words and phrases to convey essentially the same thing -- that the economic downturn (there still appears to be some debate over whether this is officially a recession) has business owners cautious and wary about what might happen. But no one is yet drawing up comparisons to 1991, the height of the last deep recession, when the phones simply stopped ringing at many companies. It's not exactly business as usual in this region, by most accounts, and there are some definite signs that times are tough.

Indeed, the demise of low-cost carrier Skybus earlier this month brought the downturn home to the Valley and, specifically, to Westover Metropolitan Airport in Chicopee, with an exclamation point. Meanwhile, there are real concerns about the residential real-estate market and its fate.

There is talk of large-scale cutbacks across the Commonwealth as state and municipal officials grapple with budget deficits and declining tax revenues, and most all businesses have been touched in some way by high gas prices and sky-high diesel fuel prices. But many of those asked to give a quarter-pole analysis of 2008 and the state of the local economy were sounding mostly optimistic tones. Here are some observations: ...

You may read more at the link below.

by: George O'Brien

BusinessWest
April 14, 2008

Download the full PDF version: PDF