Next up on the agenda, is the North Carolina State University Welcome at the James B. Hunt Jr. Library. The Hunt Library opened in 2013 and is a signature staple of the North Carolina State University (NCSU) campus, often considered the heart of the university due to its bold exterior and architectural design. Clark Nexsen, an architecture firm based in Virginia Beach, served as Executive Architect when designing and constructing the Hunt Library.
“The space is truly inspirational,” said Leah Burton, Director, Centennial Campus Partnerships and Industry Alliances, as she described Hunt Library to an audience of 75 business leaders. The Centennial Campus of North Carolina State University has grown tremendously in 30 years, beginning as a section of unused land and currently houses Hunt Library, 28 national research centers, and more than 400 new student hires. “We are founded with the purpose to serve,” said Burton. “We are teaching, driving and extending knowledge at the University.”
Following Burton’s remarks, Ryan Combs, Executive Director of Research Triangle Regional Partnerships, delivered the regional overview of the Research Triangle Park (RTP). Combs referred to the RTP as the “economic engine of our region,” and went on to highlight the regions booming economy and the pace at which it is rapidly growing. According to Combs, the technology sector is greatly contributing to the economy and is expected to grow at a rate of 17.5% over the next five years.
The Economic Development Panel immediately followed Combs’ overview, continuing the discussion of regionalism. Michael Haley, Executive Director of Wake County Economic Development moderated the discussion, featuring the following panelists: Adrienne Cole, President and CEO, Raleigh Chamber of Commerce; Christopher Chung, CEO, Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina; Geoff Durham, President and CEO, Durham Chamber of Commerce; and Scott Selig, Vice President of Capital Assets, Duke University.
Michael Haley began the panel discussion by asking panelists where the strengths of the region lay. “Collaboration, innovation, diversity, and inclusivity are the four pillars of our regional strength,” began Durham. Durham continued to address the wide array of entry points into the job market through university graduates, construction, and technology jobs which are creating a booming economic market throughout the region.
Adrienne Cole went on to say that the strength of the region is in the talent attracted to the region. “If we’re going to grow and retain our talent pipeline, we have to have a continued discussion,” said Cole. Following this remark, Selig said, “From a university standpoint we need to attract the best and brightest in the region and we can’t do that without Raleigh, Durham, and the Triangle.”
The panel discussion addressed how the region is growing and what can be done to replicate this growth in Hampton Roads. “Raleigh, Durham, the Triangle, and Charlotte are two of the fastest-growing regions,” said Chung. He commented on how innovation is driving the growth of the region, as well as increasing business opportunities. Much of the allure bringing people to the region revolves around entrepreneurship, innovation, and educational opportunities.
A brief Q&A took place after the panel discussion. One audience member asked the panelists how much interaction the chambers of Raleigh, Durham and the Triangle place on educational opportunities for local students. Cole responded that the chambers partner with local schools as well as the private sector to create apprenticeship opportunities for students enrolled in public schools.
In closing, Haley said there are three key takeaways from today's panel discussion. “The first thing is a purposeful partnership,” said Haley. “This is about partnership and second is pride and place, which is important because it doesn’t negate regionalism. Finally, many hands make life work.” Haley closed the panel discussion with an inspiring comment on regionalism saying that it is more than a group of chambers driving regionalism through Raleigh, Durham, and the Triangle. Haley said regionalism is driven by the educational system, the private sector, and it takes a lot of people to make regionalism successful.
Keep checking in for a continued conversation on regionalism during the Sports Marketing Panel at PNC Arena.
Thank you to the following sponsors: Dominion Energy (Presenting Sponsor); S.B. Ballard Construction Company (Bag Sponsor); VisitNorfolk (Opening Reception and Dinner Sponsor); Principle Advantage (Mayor’s Reception Sponsor); Williams Mullen (Dinner Sponsor); PNC (Luncheon Sponsor); Safelight Auto Glass, James White (Scholarship Sponsor); Cox (Supporting Sponsor).