From Ashes of Recession, Small Businesses Boom

The recession didn't slow down American entrepreneurs.

ByDavid Muir and Jessica Hopper
May 20, 2010, 12:30 PM

May 20, 2010— -- For nearly 10 years, Dan Ross worked in the labs at Pfizer in Jackson, Mich. Then the recession hit, shutting down the plant and taking his job.

Determined to stay in tested Michigan, Ross started his own lab and hired his own team to test antibiotics before they land on the shelves of the pharmacy.

"I've had two days off this year," Ross said. "We've already done more business in 2010 than we did in all of 2009."

Ross's lab,TransPharm Preclinical Solutions, is one of 558,000 small businesses started by Americans each month. That's the kind of number no one saw coming from the depths of this recession -- a portrait of Americans boldly and bravely setting out on their own, creating businesses at a pace not seen in 15 years.

The People Quotient

"You can make a very strong case that it's entrepreneurs that resolve recessions," said Carl Schramm, president of the Kauffman Foundation, which supports entrepreneurship.

Schramm said that 27,000 more new businesses a month are being created than were created last year. The trend of starting small businesses is countercyclical, meaning that when unemployment goes up, the creation of new businesses go up too.

"In recessions, large firms shed jobs," Schramm said. "New firms on the other hand can't get going without people."

Not Playing It Safe

Back in Michigan, Ross has hired five people since he started his lab two years ago.

"You hear all of the stories about people being laid off or looking for jobs and for us, to be able to bring somebody in, in two years, it's pretty nice."

From Michigan to a non-descript loft in Brooklyn, N.Y., is where you'll find Saudia Davis. Davis spent a decade working in the film industry, promoting movies like "My Big Fat Greek Wedding".

Not in the script was the unexpected word her entire department was being laid off.

"It was that, do I take the safe route or do I really venture out and put myself out there," Davis said.

She did not play it safe. And now she's cleaning up, literally. She runs her own eco-friendly cleaning company called GreenHouse Eco-Cleaning. She's helped 600 families make their homes greener.

Her goal: to leave no footprint while firmly standing on her own as one of America's brave, new business owners.

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