Recession? What recession? Yes the economy is worrisome, and the recovery “fragile,” as world leaders keep telling us, but even amidst the layoffs, there is plenty of vitality and creativity in Canada.

GM and Chrylser aren’t hiring, but plenty of small start-ups may be … and tonight’s episode of Dragons’ Den is a solid reminder.

The job numbers released two weeks ago were discouraging — a loss of 43,000 part-time jobs in October — but it would have been much worse if 27,000 new “jobs” hadn’t been created by the growth in self-employment. Hard-working, resourceful people are devising their own jobs.

What an incredible amount of creative and entrepreneurial energy there is in this country!

Tonight in the Den you’ll see great examples: A school for club DJs called “ScratchLab” (it offers a high school credit); radio and television programming for cats and dogs; and a system to turn waste from the fishing industry (lobster and crab shells) into fertilizer and pharmaceuticals. That’s only part of tonight’s roster of innovative ideas.

Two of the dragons, Arlene Dickinson and Robert Herjavec, recently told me their companies experienced tremendous growth during tough times. And that’s not uncommon — throughout history, plenty of businesses have flourished and new strategies have been hatched during challenging economies.

It was during the Great Depression that both Fortune Magazine and BusinessWeek began publishing. Also around that time Proctor and Gamble created the first soap opera for radio — to promote their detergent called Dreft. Tough times call for creative solutions!

Home Depot opened its first two stores near Atlanta in 1979 just before a recession, and expanded dramatically during a time that most companies were battening down the hatches.

I’ve heard more than a few business leaders talk about the fact that there’s a great opportunity to capture business when competitors are being timid, possibly frightened by all the bad headlines. It reminds me of the lyrics of Frank Sinatra’s famous song about New York:

“If I can make it there, I’ll make it anywhere”. If you can make it now, you can make it anytime. A good thought for all the pitchers on tonight’s episode!