Mark Vitner, a senior economist with Wachovia, is frequently seen on CNN and CNBC and quoted in the Wall Street Journal and New York Times.
But where did he give his first public speech on the state of the economy? In Pasco County, 25 years ago.
He was only 21 years old, and after he finished his presentation and returned to his seat at a conference at Saddlebrook Resort, he asked someone how he did. The main observation: "You looked nervous."
Vitner, now 46, won't be quite as nervous about his public speaking skills when he returns as keynote speaker at the Pasco Economic Development Council's Jan. 30 luncheon at Tampa Bay Golf & Country Club in San Antonio.
But his topic — once again, the state of the national economy — is something everybody's nervous about these days.
Vitner, who lives in Charlotte, will talk about the origins of the current financial crisis and the federal government's role in cleaning it up.
"At the end of the day," he told the Times this week, "there is no other entity big as the federal government to clean it up."
Vitner will hit a few other highlights, too, including his thoughts on when the recession may end. His take? Sometime this year, job losses should begin to taper off. But it may be next year before people will notice.
"It's certainly going to feel like we're in a recession this year," he said. But "things should look less bad."
He proffers a positive spin on the recession, too: "We're correcting past mistakes," particularly in Florida, where houses were overvalued and population growth was outstripping governments' abilities to pay for roads and other infrastructure.
Vitner's talk will cap five days of events that are part of the annual Business Development Week, put on by the West Pasco Chamber of Commerce.
Things kick off Monday with a luncheon at Spartan Manor. The speaker is Royce Decker, of the Hernando County Sheriff's Office.
Other highlights of the week include a Tuesday panel discussion on how to make your business "green," which runs from noon to 1:30 p.m. at Pasco-Hernando Community College in New Port Richey.
SCORE will lead a number of workshops during the week on such subjects as how to buy a franchise or get a business loan.
On Thursday, Seven Springs Rotary will host a "Success Stories" breakfast from 7 to 9:30 a.m. at Seven Springs Golf and Country Club, featuring Jeff Wright of Wright's Nutrients Premier Vitamins & Organic Grocery; Paul Mancini of Mancini Automotive and Rhonda Koning of the Contractor's Institute.
Later that day, beginning at noon at the PHCC conference center in New Port Richey, is the Successful Business Women of Tampa Bay Luncheon. Featured speakers include chief assistant county Administrator Michele Baker, Power Design chief operating officer Meredith Zdon and Manor Steel Fabricators president Deborah Shuck.
For a full schedule of events, contact the West Pasco Chamber at (727) 842-7651 or visit www.westpasco.com.
Jodie Tillman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 869-6247.