The 2010s: A Decade of Perseverance

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Pacific Northwest Region - Dec. 17, 2019

u s small business administration

The 2010s Were a Decade of Perseverance for Small Businesses

Jeremy Field

By Jeremy Field
Regional Administrator, Pacific Northwest
U.S. Small Business Administration


2019 is an exuberant end to the decade. There has never been a better time to start or grow a small business in the current booming economy.


The unemployment rate is at a 50-year low with 110 months of consecutive positive job growth. Wages have increased 3.1% during the past 12 months. And 30.7 million small businesses are creating two out of every three net new jobs.


However, the 2010s had a humble beginning. Still reeling from the Great Recession, many small businesses were still struggling and in survival mode. Job growth was flat, the unemployment rate was a staggering 9.6%, and there were only 26.8 million small businesses in the U.S.


Not only was hiring stagnant, but lending and spending were tight too. Survival was the goal as small business owners felt the weight of keeping their doors open, keeping their staff employed, and finding their way in a post-recession economy. It was a difficult and stressful time to be a small business owner.


However, true to the entrepreneurial spirit and American dream, small businesses persevered.


During the past couple years in my role as regional administrator for the SBA, I’ve traveled around Alaska, Idaho, Oregon and Washington to meet small businesses and listen to their journeys. I’ve met businesses that reshaped what they do in order to move forward. I’ve met businesses who innovated with new cost-saving strategies for their customers. I’ve even met entrepreneurs who started their business during a time most would say they were crazy.


The common thread is they all adapted, they all took risks, and they all had a vision they focused on seeing through.


A few local stories come to mind when I think of the perseverance of small businesses during the 2010s:


Santa Claus House

The Santa Claus House
North Pole, Alaska

This second-generation family-owned business has been providing holidays gifts and treats since 1952, so they are experts in perseverance. The business endured historical flooding in 1967 and used a low-interest SBA disaster loan to help recover from the damages. And when Richardson Highway was rerouted in 1972, they used an SBA loan to build a new storefront on the new highway.

Since then, the Miller Family has twice doubled the store size, currently employs nearly 50 people, and continues their Letters from Santa program which has been going for 60 years strong.


Boswell Asphault Paving Solutions

Boswell Asphalt Paving Solutions, Inc.
Meridian, Idaho

Like many small businesses in the construction industry, Melynda Boswell’s business was hit hard by the recession in 2008. Knowing that survival meant re-inventing their business, they found a cost-saving solution for businesses and governments to maintain current roadways and parking lots rather than laying entirely new pavement for projects. This approach was so successful, the business was growing faster than they could keep up.

This led Melynda to the SBA Emerging Leaders program, a “mini MBA” that helps small businesses learn how to successfully manage growth. What started as a small family-owned business has grown into an established company operating in the Treasure Valley, Idaho, Arizona, California, Oregon and Washington.


Astoria Crest Hotel

Astoria Crest Motel
Astoria, Oregon

Originally known as the Crest Motel when it first opened its doors in 1952, the property had gradually fallen into a state of disrepair and was at risk of being shuttered in 2014. However, Air Force veteran and entrepreneur Marshall Doyle and his wife Patricia, along with business partner Don West and his wife Wendy, saw this as an opportunity to save a local treasure and strengthen the community.

Thanks to SBA financing, the expertise of the four owners, and a generous amount of “sweat equity,” the Astoria Crest Motel is enjoying a resurgence as more and more travelers are discovering the hidden treasures of the Oregon Coast.

Today, the motel serves as a dedicated Lewis and Clark interpretive viewpoint and regularly enjoys full occupancy in the summer as well as becoming a popular meeting space for local clubs and organizations in the community. The business has grown its workforce from two employees to 15 as well as tripling its annual revenues since its rebranding.


NK Woodworking

NK Woodworking
Seattle, Washington

Nathie Katzoff started his high-end custom woodworking business in 2011 as a small one-man shop during an economically challenging time many people would have discouraged someone to start a new business. But just one year later, he won his first national design award, attracting national attention from high-end luxury home designers and architects. As his business grew, he found himself in need of working capital to build out his shop and add employees to fulfill the incoming commissions.

By using multiple forms of financing through the SBA Loan Guarantee Program, Nathie was able to double his employees, triple his revenue, and quadruple his shop and office space.


I’m proud that SBA programs were able to support the growth of businesses like these. But I’m even more impressed by the grit and innovation of entrepreneurs.


When small businesses share their journeys with me, I am inspired and I am grateful. Our economy and our communities wouldn’t be what they are today without the perseverance of entrepreneurs.


As we close the decade, let’s take a moment to pause and celebrate the rise from recession to historic economic growth. And let’s take a moment to thank the small business owners who brought our country to this high point through their innovation, determination and perseverance.


Jeremy Field is the Regional Administrator for the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) Pacific Northwest Region which serves Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Alaska. The SBA empowers entrepreneurs and small businesses with resources to start, grow, expand or recover.

National Small Business Week Awards. More information at

Do you have a story of perseverance?

The SBA is accepting nominations for the 2020 National Small Business Week Awards. If you or a small business owner you know has an inspiring story of success and perseverance, submit a nomination by 12 p.m. on Jan. 7, 2020.

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