The close of 2009 is upon us and, perhaps, we can all take a moment to sigh with relief. It was, afterall, a turbulent time — professionally, economically, and socially. There were a lot of changes: we elected a new president, bailed out a number of industries on the verge of collapse with dollars borrowed from our children's future, and watched as some of our icons left this earthly stage.

Economy

The recession wasn't fun. Some say it's over, but we're still seeing the damage it caused. Despite that, some declared they wouldn't participate. They slashed costs, found ways to market their brand better, and avoided the dreaded downsizing of their people, their training, their companies.

Yes, a year of change began after the swearing in of President Barrack Obama. He set the wheels in motion via his Stimulus Plan, to save ailing blue-chip companies that led to making General Motors one of the first, mostly Federally-owned corporations in America.

Is his stimulus package working? The answer remains to be seen. Cheers do go out for the Federal “Cash for Clunkers” program, which offered owners of old cars and trucks incentives for buying new, more-efficient vehicles.

Stimulus dollars also found their way into the HVAC Industry in the form of credits for geothermal and high efficiency heating/cooling systems. I suppose this is our version of cash for clunkers. Combined with utility and manufacturer rebates, a perfect storm of opportunities abound. Most importantly, people will not have to give up on air conditioning because of its cost and environmental impact and adopt discomfort as a lifestyle.

Society

We saw the end of two dynasties: the day the music died was marked by the passing of pop icon Michael Jackson. And the Kennedy clan mourned the loss of another son when Senator Edward Kennedy succumbed to brain cancer.

One of his life-long pet projects was the creation of a national healthcare program. The Obama administration picked that ball up and their plan came on strong, but now seems to be running out of steam. Meanwhile insurance and pharmaceutical costs continue to spiral out of control.

Speaking of environmentalism, we have the “Green” movement. This has become an even greater part of everyday living than ever before and stimulus dollars are being funnelled into research and technology to reduce mankind's impact on the planet. Hybrid technology not only applies to cars, but to HVAC systems as well.

So it's time for some clear thinking on what green means to you and your business. From manufacturers, through distributors, to contractors, there are those who take this movement very seriously and have become “green” giants among us. And they are making money doing it.

Heros

We witnessed pirates — yes I said pirates — capture a U.S. cargo ship and hold its captain captive. Then we watched as U.S. Special Forces freed him.

Don't forget the spectacular rescue of journalists Laura Ling and Euna Lee from North Korea by former Vice President Al Gore and former President Bill Clinton.

The world caught its collective breath as U.S. Airways Flight 1549 safely crash landed in the icy waters of the Hudson River without any loss of life. The first pictures of Captain Sullenberger's heroics appeared on Twitter and brought social networking to the forefront of the American psyche. The question remains, however, whether social networking works for you in your business.

Not sure if this fits in the heros category, but ContractingBusiness.com also re-invented itself in 2009 with a redesign and a birthday celebration marking 65 years of serving the industry.

Yes, 2009 was a tough and interesting year. Some say the recession is on the wane and in 2010 the economy will be all good. Let's hope so. Take a lesson from those who defy the economy and created their own recession recovery — become a Green Giant. Next year can be a very good year if you design your business to make it so.

Happy holidays from the entire team here at ContractingBusiness.com. Best wishes for a safe, exciting, and prosperous new year — 2010: get ready, because here we come.