RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. — Regardless of how much doom and gloom there is about the economy, business leaders have to enter 2009 with true grit. Otherwise, just give up, cash out and leave your employees in the lurch.

For those willing to fight, a couple of traditional annual economic kickoff events next week will offer insight and advice about what’s to come this economic winter.

Top economists will offer their views about 2009 at the “Economic Forecast Forum” and the “Economic Forecast.” The first features a statewide outlook and is put on by the North Carolina Bankers Association and the North Carolina Chamber. It takes place at the new Raleigh Convention Center on Jan. 5. Two days later, the Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce puts on its Triangle-focused event at the Fletcher Opera Theater.

Harry Davis, economist for the Bankers Association and a banking professor at Appalachian State University, will share the platform with U.S. Chamber of Commerce chief economist Martin Regalia at the seventh annual Chamber/Bankers gathering.

Stealing the show, however, could be Beverly Perdue, the governor elect. What she says about the state’s budget deficit and her thoughts about taxes and spending is certain to draw a great deal of scrutiny. Progress Energy Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Bill Johnson will be speaking, too.

Another highlight of the event will be a preliminary discussion about North Carolina’s troubled transportation system. It will include two panel discussions about “Transforming Transportation for the Future.”

Two days later, Wachovia Chief Economist John Silvia and Matthew Martin, an economist with the Federal Reserve Bank in Richmond, headline the program for the Greater Raleigh Chamber forum. Silvia each year provides an in-depth analysis of what’s right and wrong about the Triangle economy.

As for the widely held view that the Triangle is recession proof – well, Silvia may have a different point of view, given the scope of the 2008 economic meltdown.

Wachovia’s own financial plight certainly gives Silvia first-hand experience about the turmoil that nearly unraveled the world’s financial infrastructure. His should be a very interesting talk, to say the very least.

For more event information, visit the and Web sites.