Anthony S. Manna

Chief executive, Signet Enterprises

(real estate, manufacturing, service company owner)

Clearly the first quarter of 2012 started off better than the first quarter of 2011, although the last quarter of 2011 started to show marked improvement. In 2012, Ohio still has its share of issues, but there’s no doubt the economy is improving. Whether you are for or against it, the emerging natural gas industry is clearly adding to employment, especially in eastern Ohio.

I also see the lending market improving. I’ve been talking to several banks and there clearly is more directive to generate loans. That’s better for small business, medium-size businesses. I think there is going to be more opportunity to expand, invest in capital expenditures.

Instead of maybe two or three banks bidding on financing a project, you now have five to seven banks willing to take a look at something. The rates are at historic lows. Overall, we are getting better terms, different types of conditions to look at and compare.

The expansion of Signet Enterprise’s downtown facility ... that shows I’m very bullish on the Akron and surrounding area. We had other alternatives that were being presented to us.

(Earlier this month, Manna’s Signet Enterprises, 75 E. Market St., and the city of Akron agreed that Signet Enterprises LLC and the Brennan, Manna and Diamond law firm would remain downtown as Manna develops what he calls a “financial complex” at East Market and High streets.)