Carol Carter took her position with the Federal Reserve on Jan. 1, 2008, the first day of what would become a tumultuous year for the Fed.
Carter, the president and CEO of a firm that repairs, redesigns and re-commissions compressors in the oil and gas industry, is now preparing to leave the board of directors of the Salt Lake City branch of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.
An Old Town resident, Carter held a unique position as the economy tumbled into the recession and then plodded toward what believers see as a recovery and what contrarians instead view as an economy propped up by Federal Reserve policies.
In her role on the board of directors she reports on economic and business conditions in the area. Hers and the reports from others on the Salt Lake City board of directors are submitted to the leadership of the San Francisco Federal Reserve Bank.
They use the information alongside what is gathered from boards of directors in Los Angeles, Portland, Ore., and Seattle to prepare assessments of the regional economy. The board of directors in Salt Lake City meets once a month. A representative then travels to San Francisco the next week to deliver the report.
In an interview, Carter said she sees the economy mending. The national recession is "behind us" and Utah's economic conditions are better than many other states, Carter said.
"I will admit I'm an optimist," Carter said.
Carter described her opinions as her own rather than those of the Federal Reserve. She said she was unable to speak about critical Federal Reserve functions like monetary policy and interest rates. But Carter, who is not a figure in local politics and served for five years on the board of directors of the Salt Lake City branch without publicity, provides an insider perspective of the Federal Reserve and the regional economy.
Carter, who is 63 years old, founded a company called Industrial Compressor Products, Inc. in Salt Lake City in the early 1980s. She has lived in Park City since 2002 and owned a house in the city for 15 years before the move in 2002.
Carter said she was interviewed in 2005 for a position of the Salt Lake City board of directors but lost the spot to someone else. She was nominated for the position again in 2007 and took the seat at the start of the next year, undergoing a required training session in Washington, D.C. Her term ends Dec. 31. She is a registered Republican but said she is not a party hardliner, indicating she has voted for Democrats in local and federal elections.
Carter sees the Park City-area economy and the wider Utah economy as performing well, even as she recognizes some places are not as robust as others. She credited state leaders for their budgeting policies as one of the reasons for her overall assessment of Utah. She said the state's economy has outperformed others.
"We didn't have as far to come back because we didn't fall as drastically," Carter said.
In Park City and surrounding Summit County, Carter sees a recovery that is accelerating. The people who she speaks to in the county about the economy are "very upbeat," she said. Carter especially noted the local real estate market, an important sector of the Park City-area economy.
"I think values are up. I think sales numbers are improving. We're moving on," she said, adding, "We're going to make a success of what we have in Summit County."
Carter, though, said the area's economy must diversify to continue its growth. The related industries of tourism and construction are critical economic sectors in the area, but leaders in recent years have attempted to position Park City as a place for entrepreneurs as well. Carter said she envisions the information technology field as one that could start to balance the local economy.
"The ski industry cannot be the sole supporter, the major supporter, for what the citizens' needs and desires are," she said.