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Babson’s Dwight Gertz Addresses Wellesley Chamber on Life after the Recession (from a Small Business Perspective)

Babson Professor Dwight Gertz

“A number of small businesses germinated during the great depression,” said Babson’s Dwight Gertz, “Disney’s Steamboat Willy was one idea and by 1933, Disney executives were sketching the Disney theme park concept on restaurant cocktail napkins.”

Gertz spoke at the Babson College/Wellesley Bank Business Series at the Wellesley Chamber’s Networking Before 9 breakfast held here at Babson this morning.

Disney took a big gamble producing cheap entertainment at a time when the major players in the industry were indeed suffering.  So lesson learned?  According to Gertz, understand market needs and be willing to take the risk.

In a quick review of the housing debacle, Gertz predicted that US housing prices will stabilize in 2010-11 to what they were in 1992-3.  This means that the average US family will have 20-30% less spending power than before the recession.

In a calculation of the relative worth of Americans in a global context, Gertz figures that the US right now is #17 at $47,103 global income per capita.  Liechtenstein is #1 at $145, 734.  Lesson learned here?  Good time to advertise US real estate in Oslo!

After an examination of the current economic environment, Gertz turned the tables and asked Chamber participants their thoughts about business opportunities that could and will evolve from the current recession.

One home entertainment owner sees continued growth in this sector as Americans continue in the “staycation” trend and as “McMansion” homes are cut-up into 2-3 family units….increasing a single opportunity into triple home theater transactions.

Another participant suggested that the housing industry will produce smaller, sustainable, energy-efficient models.

As the US becomes a country of the old and young new immigrants, ESL education will rise along with at-home services for elderly boomers.

And US food exports will continue to thrive but the shape of the transportation industry is an unanswered question according to Gertz.