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GROTON — According to Becky Greco, one of the secrets of succeeding in business during difficult economic times is to develop a close relationship with the local community.

“It’s important,” confirmed Greco, who owns and operates Greco Graphics with stores in Billerica and Groton. “We support a lot of local organizations like school sports teams. Also, we support other things like the Groton-Dunstable chamber choir which is trying to raise money to go to the Olympics in England. We’ve also been helping the pages for peace project for several years.”

Greco said supporting local causes has the benefit of helping both the cause and her business.

“When we help out local sports teams, they have to come in to pick up whatever it is we’re doing for them,” said Greco. “And while they’re here, they might see something else they want.”

Located in Mill Run Plaza, Greco Graphics provides a wide range of imprinting services.

“We do screen printing and embroidering of promotional items,” said Greco. “Anything from T-shirts, sports apparel, and bags to hats, coffee mugs, and even tents.”

Together with husband James, Greco opened her first store in 1988 when the couple lived in Billerica. In 2005, they opened their second location in Groton’s Mill Run Plaza after moving to town to live.

Between their two stores, the Grecos contribute to the local economy by employing six people beside themselves.

Unfortunately, hiring people and expanding their business was made more difficult than it needed to be when they could not secure a loan, a problem that has effected companies across the nation due to banks grown skittish following events that rocked the financial community some years ago.

“The banks did not help us at all,” reported Greco. “From my experience, they were definitely not small business friendly. When we tried for a bank loan for our business, we were turned down. But town government hasn’t been too bad. They’re customers of ours in fact: the Fire Department, Police Department, and Building Department. On the other hand, I don’t think the state government has been as friendly with its taxes.”

But despite reluctant lenders and the dead hand of state fees, fines, and taxes, Greco expressed optimism about an overall economy that seemed to be improving, even if at a snail’s pace.

“Business has been picking up actually,” reported Greco. “Over the last few years it’s been difficult, but things are starting to pick up.”

No doubt helping things along are the Greco’s long experience in the business, a loyal customer base, and James Greco’s degree in art and Becky’s degrees in business management and accounting.

But the main contributing factor in conducting a successful business while waiting for a sluggish economy to pick up, is good relations with the local community. If a business can do that, it will have the strength to wait out the tough times until things get better.

“Doing business in this area is great,” declared Greco about the Nashoba Valley neighborhood. “People around here like to keep businesses in the area so they patronize local business.”

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