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Good Business in a Bad Economy?
01/08/10 - 06:39 PM
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If the current economic climate is too harsh to open a new business, don’t tell Jackson County.  The last year has seen twenty-six grand opening celebrations of new businesses there in Northern Florida.
  It’s a number Art Kimbrough said is more impressive than it initially seems. 
“What’s significant about that number is that it exceeds the number we had during the best of times of the economy,” said Kimbrough, the Jackson County Chamber of Commerce President.
“So even though the economy’s down, we’re seeing entrepreneurs and the entrepreneurial spirit that’s still strong and growing.”
Kimbrough said the high number of openings might reflect a segment of people who leave their old jobs and start new ones. 
Jamie Streetman is one such example.  A real estate broker, he’s now the proud owner of what he says is the only New York style, brick oven pizzeria in Jackson County.  Opened in downtown Marianna, Streetman said he started Dino’s Pizza to, “ease the pain of a terrible market.” 
  He’s testing his theory that pizza may be more popular than new houses, at least in the current tough economic climate. 
“People don’t have to buy and sell houses each day but they do have to eat each day,” Streetman said. 
“So I felt it was a good opportunity, and a good business to go into.”
  Open only eight weeks, Streetman said he’s happy to see more people coming in the front door, but still hopes one day to get back into his old profession.  For now, he has some advice for his fellow idle real estate brokers:
“If you’re in the real estate business and you’re waiting for it to come back, find you something else to do while you’re waiting for it to come back,” Streetman said.  “You’ll be much happier.”
As for how many businesses have been shuttered, Kimbrough said he isn’t sure.  He doesn’t know of any way to track business closings from the past year, other than empty downtown storefronts.  But he said those haven’t been popping up very much lately.
          Dino’s certainly won’t be empty any time soon, according to Jackson County resident Curtis Brown.
  “The food is fantastic, I eat here at least once a week,” said Brown.  “And it’s a family restaurant on top of that—rednecks included.”

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