It has been a rocky few months and much uncertainty remains, but it’s possible people and business leaders are beginning to come to terms with this economy.

That is, said Moss Adams Senior Business Consultant Steve Janicelli, most now understand that Depression-style bread lines are not in our future. But neither are the days of double-digit housing price appreciation, stated-income loans and free-spending consumers likely to return any time soon, Mr. Janicelli told about 160 people attending the Business Journal’s Impact Marin conference Thursday.

So, with that settled, where do we stand?

For businesses, Mr. Janicelli and other panelists said, it means shoring up cash flow and maintaining a close relationship with customers, vendors, bankers and all stakeholders in your company.

Understand, said panelist Bill Petrocelli, co-founder of the independent bookseller Book Passage, that when a customer does business with you today, they are voting that they want you to be around one, two or three years from now.

Mr. Petrocelli also reminded the audience that no city can fully function – economically and socially – without a strong core of local retailers that circulate dollars locally and support community organizations.

Meanwhile, the North Bay is fortunate to have community banks with strong financial balance sheets that know the market and are ready to lend.

Bank of Marin, said President and Chief Executive officer Russ Colombo, has already lent every dollar it has received from its participation in the federal Targeted Asset Relief Program and intends to leverage that $28 million into an estimated $200 million in loans going forward. Those loans go to local businesses.

And Orion Partners co-founder Haden Ongaro reminded the audience that the model military base conversion at Hamilton Landing occurred in part during the telecom recession earlier this decade.

That kind of visionary development could, perhaps will, occur again. But one thing is nearly certain: Changing expectations about spending and debt are likely to be with us for a very long time.


Brad Bollinger is editor in chief and associate publisher of the Business Journal. He can be reached at or 707-521-4251.