E. Texas small businesses have eye toward economic turnaround

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - From different small businesses, they share a common goal: Working to pull East Texas out of an economic slump.

"We're just doing what we think we need to be doing and I think it's all just going to work out," said Jodi Johnson, CEO of Pinto Pony Cookie Factory in San Augustine. "We will not fail from a lack of trying."

In the middle of the recession, she started dreaming up an expansion that includes hiring on a couple hundred people in the next six months.

Economists say businesses can use the recession as a time to figure out how to run more efficiently.

"The recession has changed some things, but what it's changed is the type of work that people will be doing," said Ray Perryman, a nationally known economist. "These businesses as they come back, they'll be hiring people, but they'll be using different technology, they'll be doing different things."

While small business is said to be the backbone of national economy, the same holds true in East Texas and no one knows that better than the man in charge of an East Texas asphalt plant in Lufkin.

"Look forward," said Gene Carrier, president of East Texas Asphalt Company. "We don't, a lot of companies think short-term, what did we make this month, what does this quarter look like, we look three, four, five years down the road."

It's that kind of thinking that helped carrier's 40-employee company grow in an economic downturn.

"It speaks to the underlying strength of the community, the sense of the community, the cohesion the area has and that's something that I think East Texas has had for a long time," Perryman said.

The recession may be a difficult situation, but economists predict it's only temporary.

And Perryman says it's small businesses driving long-term sustainable growth.

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