These entrepreneurs, scarred but not destroyed by the September attacks, are exemplars of a new, post-attack business mind-set. They're using their survivor mentality to salvage what they can from the ashes, whether figurative or actual, so their companies can survive. Meanwhile, they're creatively seeking ways to rebound and generate more opportunity than even before the attacks.
Has anything good come of the tragedy? Perhaps one thing: Entrepreneurs have learned they have unexpected allies. Gruzen Samton was able to get partially back up and working by relocating some employees in office space lent by other architectural firms. "These people, who are our competitors on a daily basis, were very gracious in providing space for us, even working over the weekend to move people around to provide space for our teams," Kazan says. Other entrepreneurs have found the federal government a willing assistant, as the SBA moved quickly to declare businesses first in lower Manhattan and then the whole region eligible for disaster aid and low-interest loans.
In Manahawkin, on the Jersey shore just south of New York City, Travel Emporiumco-owners Ann Bell, 59, and Marianne Newenhouse, 39, were pleasantly surprised to find their customers going out of their way to help their small agency as it suffered major revenue losses due to travel stalling after the attacks. "One guy called up and said he already had his airline tickets but he thought we might be able to use a car rental," Bell says. "He didn't say he could use it; he said we could use it. A lot of people were worried about us not just because we're their travel agent but because we're their friends."