For George Carey, owner of Finz Seafood and Grill in Salem, 2012 was his best year since he opened in 2001.
And he’s cautiously optimistic that this is a long-term trend, a result of Salem’s having become a dining destination.
Fran Dichner, president of the staffing firm R&L Associates in Beverly, says her company is on track to have its best year since the recession in 2008, as local companies ramp up their work forces.
For Brian Cranney, president of Cranney Companies in Danvers, the economic downturn hit his business hard, as new home construction stalled and there was a dearth of commercial construction. But business has begun to pick up again, and he, too, is optimistic. He predicts business will increase 20 percent this year.
For Somerville developer RCG, 2013 may be one where a $45 million downtown Salem development may go through the permitting process before various city boards.
So what is the economic outlook on the North Shore in 2013?
The economy has been sending mixed signals as of late, so it’s hard to predict. Consumer confidence fell in January according to one study, but was up slightly in another. Housing showed signs of strength; the Massachusetts Association of Realtors announced home sales were up 13 percent in December compared with the same month in 2011. Unemployment rose slightly, by 0.1 percent to 7.9 percent nationally.
But several business owners interviewed say the overall trend appears to be positive.
Carey, who describes himself as both an optimist and a pessimist, admits he’s “wary of 2013,” fearing the payroll tax increase and health care costs could have an impact on those who may want to eat out. Last year, the restaurant’s business was up in all four quarters. Business gradually increased after the crash in 2008.
”We are busier,” Carey said, “and that’s because of the economy.”