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How's business? // Here are some answers

Joan Rees

Owner, Gone Again Travel, New Port Richey

Looking back:

"Pasco County has been very good to us. I think the state of the government has made people a little bit wary about travel and taking trips, because they're not sure what is going to happen with Social Security."

Looking ahead:

"I'm really glad Southwest (Airlines) is coming. Southwest is going to mean more competitive prices and more opportunity for people to fly. It's more work for us, and it's better for our clients."

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Michael Gabriele

Owner, Mr. G.'s Food, Hudson

Mr. G.'s sells pizza dough and eggplant to Disney World, California Pizza Kitchen and other restaurants.

Looking back:

"In Pasco County, we've gone from $160,000 (in sales) in four years to over $1-million. It's calmer and out of the rigamarole of the city. There's less crime, fewer taxes.We can employ local people."

Looking ahead:

"They could fix the roads up a little bit more, add a couple of lanes to make things more accessible, because we drive to Orlando a lot."

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Dewey Mitchell

President, Tropical Prudential Realty, Port Richey

Looking back:

"I think you've seen an increase in occupancy for a lot of vacant (commercial) space, and that means more jobs and more money in Pasco. The (residential) rental market is really big, and the resale market is steady."

Looking ahead:

"We're looking for a change next year just by being bigger. (Tropical Prudential has opened offices in Dade City and Land O'Lakes.) For the county, the pending road construction _ the next link of Little Road is going to be coming this year, the improvements of SR 54. We're going to benefit continually from the pressure coming in from the south as Pinellas is built out."

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John Hnilica

Owner, Ed's Shoe Repair, Port Richey

Looking back:

"We had the best business we've ever seen in every category. Money was a little bit tight, and people may be a little bit more apt to get things repaired instead of replaced. We've seen a growth in younger families coming in."

Looking ahead:

"The improvement of the roads, I feel, is vital. The widening of Ridge Road and Little Road were huge, huge reasons why (customer) traffic flow and everything else has increased. I'd say we're looking for a "shop Pasco first" mentality, because local stores will break their back to keep (customers) coming back."

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Gary Brown

Owner, Gary Brown Ford, Hudson

Looking back:

"We had a good year in 1995. I think people were a little apprehensive for a while about the budget in Washington."

Looking ahead:

"We're looking forward to a new year in '96 because of better products. The (1996) Taurus is absolutely the leading edge of technology today. . . . The 1986 original Taurus did not sell at first because people were not used to it. (The 1996 Taurus) has been rated the safest sedan built in America. (Ford dealers) are looking for close to a top year across the country."

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Maria Restrepo

Co-owner, Christina's Restaurant, New Port Richey

Looking back:

"Good. The (downtown streetscape) construction didn't do much to us because it was on Grand (Boulevard). It was even better for us, because we had more business because it was over there."

Looking ahead:

"Business might slow down, because now the street construction is on this street. Eventually, with more people here, I think it will be good for everybody in downtown."

Cindy Kuhn

Owner, Bloomers maternity shop, Port Richey

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Looking back:

"If it hadn't been good, I wouldn't have just opened another store in Palm Harbor. I've heard a lot of people (in Pasco) say there's no place else to buy maternity clothes. I moved here 23 years ago, and it was almost entirely a retirement county. But we have seen a real influx of younger people and families."

Looking ahead:

"People are having babies, and that's not going to change in '96. I think there will be more (home) building starts."

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