As the results of France's presidential election rolled in on Sunday, Françoise Horiot watched with relief, optimistic about the prospects for her small aviation business.
The victory of Emmanuel Macron, an economic centrist, gave her hope that the mechanics in her factory could be more productive if he followed through on promises to ease regulations. And it erased fears that her ties with suppliers and clients in Europe, Turkey and China might founder if his opponent, Marine Le Pen, could have made good on promises to pull France out of the European Union.
"Macron has so much to do, both at the national and European level," said Mrs. Horiot, 69, who runs Entreprise Troyes Aviation, which employs 15 people in this industrial and agricultural region in central France. "I hope he'll have the power to improve the economy."
He may not.
During the campaign, Mr. Macron promised to swiftly pass measures to lower France's high unemployment rate and revive growth, which has remained stagnant in the wake of Europe's financial crisis. A priority for the more than three million small and medium businesses that form the backbone of the economy is a revision of the nation's 3,300-page labor code, which they say makes it difficult to lay off employees and discourages them from hiring new workers.
But Mr. Macron, like many of his predecessors, will face political and social hurdles to change.
His new party, La République en Marche — Republic on the Move — must secure a parliamentary majority in legislative elections next month, or face years of possible political gridlock. French trade unions have also vowed nationwide protests to stop him from pushing France toward a less protected labor market, which they warn would fuel precariousness and nourish the populism that lifted Ms. Le Pen.
At least half of the battle may be simply persuading the French people — and French businesses, investors and workers — to feel more optimistic about the future after a long malaise.
"The best case is it takes some time, but he manages to implement at least half of what's needed to stop decreasing competitiveness and change the trajectory of France," said Olivier Marchal, the chairman of Bain & Co. France, a business consultancy.
"If he accomplishes that, then employment picks up, confidence is rebuilt, new investment comes in, and we shift from a vicious cycle to a virtuous one," Mr. Marchal added. If not, "then the economic situation is going to be a major issue, both for France and for Europe."
The Aube region of central France, of which Troyes is the de facto capital, has grappled with economic uncertainty for years. Unemployment has lingered around 13 percent, higher than the national average, as jobs were lost over the decades.
Layoffs recently swept through a nearby Michelin tire factory. Textile manufacturers once implanted in the region closed amid cheap global competition.
The breakdown of the votes belied the economic weakness. Mr. Macron won 54 percent of votes in the region in Sunday's election. But Ms. Le Pen, who campaigned hard among disaffected workers, had 46 percent of the vote, more than 11 points above the national average.
Mr. Macron's platform plays well to businesses around Troyes, a town of 60,000 lined with 16th-century timbered houses and a phalanx of cafes and small shops. A handful of factories that have weathered global competition and the downturn dot the lush landscape on Troyes's outskirts.