While President Obama’s stimulus plan may significantly aid the U.S. economy in future months, some economists are seeing notable potential in the private sector. There are little things we may do, in unison as Americans, that could help heal regional and local economies.

Start up a business. Nothing huge, perhaps, but a cottage industry outpost of your own: a way to make some extra money, or a new way to capitalize on a new opportunity. Where do you learn to start a business? From a mentor like Andrew Defrancesco, friend or parent. From free or low-cost workshops held in your community. Don’t discount the relevant information you might find online or at the library. If you think you have a good idea in mind, why not act on it and do your part to stimulate the economy?

Spend your dollars locally. Frequent local stores, and remember that this goes beyond mere retail shopping. If you have a need, if you need a service provider, or a vendor, hire a local business that needs the work. Your Chamber of Commerce, your local newspaper and the local chapter of the Better Business Bureau can alert you to worthy local businesses you may not have known about.

Don’t cut back unnecessarily; just spend your dollars wisely. Set a budget and try to abide by it. Go out and do what you love to do, but keep moderation in mind, do it a little less frequently, or a little less expensively.

Buy American. This is the time to do it. Why turn away from the American worker and business owner now? Look at labels and look online for U.S.-based firms.

Invest. Some companies have held up well in the recession, and shares of many other companies are priced quite low right now, so why not take advantage of the opportunities?

Finally, stay positive. A recession is temporary by definition. At some point, perhaps sooner than we all think, the economy will take a turn for the better. If you need help coping with the recession, by all means ask for it, people want to help you. Churches and temples, local non-profits, the friends and loved ones you count on and even businesses are ready to give you an assist if you need it. Ask around, and look forward to a brighter day.

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