Business booms at BBJ's Growth Expo

BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - Birmingham business leaders are cautiously optimistic about the chances for local companies to grow in 2010. That is the message they sent at the Birmingham Business Journal's Growth Expo downtown Tuesday.
The general agreement among Birmingham business leaders at the expo was that growth in 2010 is possible, but you have to draw a lesson from the rainy weather outside.

"In 2009, we had to learn to weather the storm," said the BBJ's publisher Joel Welker. "And in 2010, those who are going to be successful are those who are going to learn how to play ball in the rain. If they just sit on the sideline and wait for things to get better, opportunities going to pass them by."
"I think small to medium-size businesses are the future of the country, there's no doubt about it," said Greg Dollarhyde, CEO of Island Restaurants, parent company of Zoe's Kitchen.
Dollarhyde says his company's sales were up last week over the same time last year and says sales in the Birmingham market are doing better than in larger cities like Phoenix. He says it's time to take some risks, especially if you're out of work and have an idea you believe in.
"A lot of great restaurant chains came out of recessions," Dollarhyde said. "Where they figured it out and the big bulky ones lost customers and got their customers taken by the young, frisky concept, new idea."

Part of that new idea may be personal growth that makes you a more attractive hire when companies are ready to expand again.

"I think people need to look at their personal skill sets." said Kate Nielsen, of the Community Foundation of Birmingham. "Do you need to go back and hone your skills? Whether it's technology, communications, some of those things that can move you forward."