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Two years after end of Great Recession, how are we doing?

The Great Recession officially ended in June 2009. That's apparent on Wall Street, less so on Main Street. But the economic recovery is gradually being felt in places like Poughkeepsie, N.Y.

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"Corporate America, excluding the banks, came through the financial crisis in great shape in terms of their balance sheet," says Fred Dickson, chief investment strategist at D.A. Davidson & Co. in Lake Oswego, Ore. "They have enjoyed accelerating revenue and profit."

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Those rising stock prices have certainly helped one group: billionaires. Two years ago, according to Forbes Magazine, there were 359 US billionaires, controlling $1.061 trillion in wealth. The magazine's assessment for 2011 found 412 US billionaires with wealth totaling $1.484 trillion.

Yet on Main Street, the view is somewhat different.

The Hudson Valley community of Poughkeepsie, N.Y., about a two-hour drive from New York City, has seen a lot of stresses and strains. But it also shows how the economy can be resilient.

Poughkeepsie is the county seat for Dutchess County. As such, it has a certain amount of built-in stability from courts, law firms, and hospitals.

The Brookings Institution's Met­ro­politan Policy Program puts Pough­keep­sie's economy in the middle of the 100 metro areas it measures. Most of those "middle" cities have some mix of government, education, health care, professional services, and food service, says Mark Muro, policy director of the program.

But that did not insulate Pough­keepsie economically.

As a result of the recession, the city's revenues fell $3.5 million, and Mayor John Tkazyik had to cut the city's workforce by 10 percent, mainly through attrition. "We cut overtime, we cut contracted services, we are cutting out the waste," says Mr. Tkazyik in an interview at his office.

But at the same time, the city is attracting developers through various incentives. At least 35 projects – ranging from condos to new medical facilities to a $25 million office and shopping complex on the banks of the Hudson River – are in the works, says Michael Long, the city administrator. "We have a handful of developers who want to turn this city around," he says.


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