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Indiana small businesses ‘optimistic’ heading into possible 2023 economic downturn

By Adam Yahya Rayes, IPB News | Published on in Business, Community, Economy
Some businesses are feeling the economic squeeze more than others right now. (Lauren Chapman/IPB News)

Predictions of a mild recession in 2023 create a lot of uncertainty for workers and companies.

Many northern Indiana small business owners are optimistic, said Alan Steele, director of the North Central Indiana Small Business Development Center. Some are even still willing to borrow money despite rising loan interest rates.

“I wouldn’t want to say that optimism is rampant,” Steele said. “I think there’s quite a bit of wait-and-see among the folks that we’re talking to. But the concerns so far don’t seem to be holding a lot of people back from anything that they’re trying to do.”

Optimistic small businesses will need to watch out for consumer demand, Steele added. If this predicted recession hits and people start losing jobs, they might buy less.

Ryan Lynch, owner of LiftOff Creamery in Indianapolis, said he’s feeling pretty confident right now but remains prepared for a possible downturn

“I get up to about 14 to 15 employees during the summertime,” Lynch said. “May have to shed down to about 10 employees, nine employees … throughout the rest of the year to kind of keep that sustainable.”

Some businesses are feeling the squeeze more than others. Paula Sours is the owner and sole employee of a South Bend marketing firm, Visions GPS Branding. Her clients are mostly other small businesses, she said, and they have been ordering less from her lately.

“You always can feel it,” Sours said. “Less ordering, less marketing materials needed because business owners need to save for something that’s more important, like the gas bill.”

But Sours said she’s confident she can weather the storm ahead by cutting costs. For example, she’s now doing work herself that she would normally contract out, like embroidering company logos on shirts and other merchandise.

“If you haven’t started yet, put that cashflow aside,” Sours said. “I can’t emphasize enough, save, save, save, no matter what. Even if we don’t go [into a] recession, you’ll have enough money to buy yourself a new laptop in six months if you use the laptop you have now.”

READ MORE: Labor market appears strong in new data as Indiana officials brace for possible ‘mild’ recession

Sours and Steele both agree that if a recession does hit in 2023, there likely won’t be as much federal or state financial support for small businesses as there was in response to the downturn caused by the pandemic in 2020.

Indiana Public Broadcasting’s Adam Yahya Rayes spoke about the economic uncertainty that lies ahead with Sours, Lynch and Steele in a Facebook Live recently.

Contact reporter Adam at arayes@wvpe.org or follow him on Twitter at @arayesIPB.