These days, stupid or not, it's the economy that seems to be on everyone's mind, to the exclusion of everything else. (Okay, everything else except Michael Jackson.) We at Isthmus have not escaped the preoccupation, as evidenced by our lead news stories the past two issues.
Last week our focus was on folks who, in reaction to employment setbacks, launched their own enterprises. This week our cover story investigates another entrepreneurial phenomenon: small businesses that have stuck around, perhaps against the odds. In "Staying Alive," author Mary Ellen Bell profiles six enterprises that have withstood the ravages of time and economic vagary. It's an interesting perspective from which to view the current business landscape, given the meltdown of manufacturing behemoths like General Motors and Chrysler, and financial giants that have shed workers by the hundreds.
From June 25-27, I attended the 32nd annual convention of the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies, of which I have attended 30 consecutively. So when it comes to evaluating AAN conventions, I know whereof I speak. This was a good one, held at a JW Marriott resort just outside Tucson. Most of the sessions spoke directly to the challenges that are confronting my fellow weekly newspaper makers. The food was great, and the desert milieu was an exotic environment to these Northern eyes.
It was also the most sparsely attended of recent AAN conventions. Of the 50 papers represented (out of approximately 130 members), only two were from the two large chains in our industry. It was mostly a convention of the independents - stand-alone operations you might refer to as "mom and pop" outfits. Though times are tough for almost everyone, attending or not, it's the large papers and the multi-paper entities that are in the direst condition.
So let's hear it for the small businesses, the foundation of our economy. If we lose them, we are truly in trouble.