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Small businesses think economy won’t improve

Two Springfield owners seek success where others have failed.

Xol Skidmore started her nail salon less than two months ago as a way to find work in a field that she loves.

Skidmore said she is pessimistic about the improvement of the overall economy but is confident people will be attracted to her clean, brightly colored space at 1607 E. Main St. and her professional skills.

“I do this with my heart, and I had my own shop in Mexico before,” she said. “I just have a feeling.”

Skidmore is not the only one who feels the economy will not improve.

The National Federation of Independent Businesses reported in April that general small business owner optimism — determined by an index that measures how small business owners feel about hiring, capital spending, government regulation, the general economy and more — is down for the first time in three months.

“We had increases for three months in a row, beginning in December we started to see an increase, a crawl up,” said Cynthia Magnuson-Allen, an NFIB spokeswoman. “What this represents is this continuum of fits and starts during this recovery. The index average during the recovery period is low compared to previous recoveries.”

The optimism index is at 89.5, below the recession-era average of 90.7.

Steve Anzur, executive director of the Small Business Development Center, said fewer people have been coming to workshops and fewer have called for appointments. He said he believes this is mostly because people are finding jobs and do not want to risk starting a new business.

The NFIB also noted that businesses are worried about government regulation and tax changes. But Anzur said most of the businesses that SBDC works with are not large enough to be greatly affected by changes such as the Affordable Care Act.

Magnuson-Allen said that while the number of jobs actually created by small businesses is up, more owners think they will be unable to hire.

“We know it’s not good for them right now,” she said. “Three-quarters expect the economy to not improve or to get worse. It’s the same with capital expenditures, people are not planning on investing or hiring.”

Skidmore opened her business in the beginning of March and runs the shop alone. She said she wants to hire but will not until the business gets busier.

But other small businesses, such as Bada Bing! Pizzeria, are growing. The pizza place has been able to triple its staff since it opened last September.

Bada Bing! Pizzeria started with just owner Jason Hague, his wife and a part-time employee. Hague said he now has nine people on payroll.

In the beginning, “Our sales were to the point where we weren’t exactly losing money but we weren’t making any,” Hague said. “But right after Harding Road opened up (after) it was under construction, we started to get more customers, both new and repeat, and seeing breaking sales each month.”

Now, the restaurant is often filled to capacity with occasional lines out the door. Hague now has to consider whether he wants to open a larger location or a second location.

While Hague is happy with his success, he said he thinks his situation is unique.

“I’ve just seen a lot of small businesses in Springfield. These owners they have a great idea, and they open up, and then they’re closed within a matter of months,” Hague said. “ … I’m a bit more on the pessimistic side for small businesses in Springfield but extremely optimistic for Bada Bing.”

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