INDEPENDENCE -- About 170 business owners and executives showed up to get some guidance and advice about how to handle the uncertain economy of 2013 including the 'fiscal cliff.'
Respected local economist Ken Mayland offered his 2013 forecast at the Embassy Suites Hotel for clients of KeyBank.
He painted a picture that included short-term difficulties and serious long-term realities. The fiscal cliff is just one factor.
"The economy is dangerously close to another recession," he warned.
Many businesses are "sitting on their hands" , delaying possible expansion or hiring.
Wayne Bilinovic heads an insurance business.
"With all the uncertainty, can you hire, can you bring on that extra employee?...I'm not overly optimistic, that's for sure," he said.
Bob Anthony is with a magazine business.
"I have a feeling we're going to have issues. There's going to be problems...We don't have as much confidence in that as we need," he said,.
Bob Lehman advises dozens of car parts manufacturers.
He's telling them, "not to take any significant risk and pull in their horns a bit until we see what happens in Washington."
Mayland thinks part of the fiscal cliff will become reality. He believes Social Security taxes may be allowed to return to earlier higher rates.
He also thinks Christmas shoppers may save more and spend less to prepare for financial problems.
"If taxes go up, more money will go to the government and a lot less will go to Macy's," he said.
KeyBank's Cleveland President Lisa Oliver took a positive view of looming changes.
"Nobody goes to bed at night thinking it's time to crawl in a cave. No one thinks that. There will be speed bumps. We'll get through it and see what we can accomplish under a new set of rules.
Businessman Tony Anthony summed it up.
"It's scary..a scary time," he said.