The firm's business didn't dry up completely — its ongoing caseload kept its doors open in the immediate aftermath of the attacks. But Spodek conceded that it was two or three years before the firm experienced any significant uptick in new business. Today, however, he believes that both his firm and the neighborhood it calls home have returned to full strength. Spodek Law Firm currently houses six lawyers, four support staff and pulls in $3 million in annual revenue.
"At this point the neighborhood is booming," he said. "We have since moved directly next to the World Trade Center, and it's a fantastic neighborhood. There's a tremendous amount of new restaurants, bars and businesses. ... I think that the neighborhood has bounced back completely."
Another small-business owner who stayed in Lower Manhattan after 9/11 is Mary White, founder and CEO of BnBFinder.com, an online guide to bed & breakfasts and inns. She started it as a home business in 1998, and she was working and living directly across the street from the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001.
Her building was forced to close for two months to recover from the damage, and she considered shutting down. However, the programmers who hosted her site out of Dallas wouldn't hear of it, and offered to run the business for free until she could come back. She rented a temporary apartment to work from with her single employee, and she kept going. She had to, anyway, because work never let up.
"What stands out to me is the number of inquiries we got from brides and others scrambling to make plans for weddings, honeymoons, family reunions and other trips that they could drive to, because of the general fear of flying," she told CNBC.com. "That holiday season we sold what was then a record number of gift certificates, because a number of articles were written about giving time, something not material, being with loved ones, and our gift certificates made this possible."