There is an old saying that small business owners are the backbone of the economy.
Cathy Lighton has certainly helped contribute to the backbone of Huntsville's economy, while also stretching arms, legs, and abs at her yoga studio in downtown Huntsville. Perched on the top floor of the Huntsville Times building, Light on Yoga fitness has unobstructed views of booming downtown Huntsville.
When asked about her faith in the Huntsville economy, Lighton said, "It is very high, even just here in downtown. There is something popping up. It seems that every month you hear of a new development going in."
Lighton certainly is not alone in her faith in the Huntsville economy. The latest quarterly report of the Alabama Business Confidence Index found local business leaders in Huntsville had greater faith in the local economy than their counterparts in Alabama's three other major metropolitan areas: Birmingham, Mobile and Montgomery.
Nearly 60 percent of those business leaders polled in Huntsville said they have strong confidence in both the local and national economy. The numbers for the other three cities hover in the low 50s. Huntsville is also the only economy in Alabama where there has been increased optimism reported to the survey for the past nine quarters.
"Nationally, people have started to recognize what we have to offer," said Congressman Mo Brooks when asked about his reaction to the survey. "We have a lot to offer; a superior workforce, lower taxes, a better business climate, low electric costs - everything expanding businesses want."
However, he did express his primary concern when it comes to any possible stumbling block for the local economy, and it comes from hundreds of miles away in Washington, D.C.
"The question is if we can sustain and diversify," said Brooks.
He attributed his concerns to the constantly changing political climate in Washington and any changes to defense spending.
"If these cuts are to the high tech weaponry we focus on, then it'll have an adverse effect on our community," he said.
However, the congressman also pointed out decisions by major non-government entities like Mazda-Toyota, Facebook and BoCar to build operations in North Alabama as a step toward the needed diversification.
As for Lighton, she is remaining steadfast in her decision to operate her studio in the heart of Huntsville.
"We're very fortunate right now to be where we're living. It is just ripe for business owners."
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