Wake County Economic Development – Telling Stories with an Edge
“Edge 5 – the Leading Edge” is Wake County Economic Development’s current five-year strategic campaign. Launched January 1, 2015, Edge 5 is driving a comprehensive strategy that includes business recruitment, exiting industry expansion, talent attraction, quality of life and sustainability, and regional competitiveness.
A program of the Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce, Wake County Economic Development (WCED) has long operated as a partnership between local government, higher education, the private sector and regional allies. Edge 5, for example, leverages funding from business and public-sector investors to drive economic prosperity for Wake County.
In pursuit of its current goals, WCED organized an outreach mission to New York City in July 2015 to engage national media and site-selection consultants. Raleigh Mayor Nancy McFarlane and Citrix Vice President Jesse Lipson were among those joining WCED Executive Director Adrienne Cole in meetings that highlighted the unique appeal of the Research Triangle as a hub for innovation.
“I think it’s also important for us to tell our story on a larger stage,” said Lipson. “That’s why I wanted to be involved in this campaign.” The group met with editorial staffs at Bloomberg Businessweek, CNN, The Wall Street Journal, and other outlets. Wake County-based executives from MetLife, Ipreo, Duke Energy and other major employers offered testimonials about the region’s business climate at a luncheon attended by a dozen leading site selection consultants.
The New York City mission was part of a national storytelling campaign that WCED launched in collaboration with the City of Raleigh’s Office of Economic Development in November 2014. “We have a lot of great stories that have not been heard nationally,” said Adrienne Cole, executive director of WCED. The venture taps the expertise of New York-based Development Counselors International (DCI), a go-to name in message development and media placement for communities, regions and states for more than 50 years.
“The City of Raleigh's partnership with Wake County and Wake County Economic Development is a perfect example of how we continue to work together to not only tell Raleigh's story but to support the region,” said James Sauls, economic development manager for Raleigh’s Economic Development Office. “Specifically, the City's office of economic development is utilizing this public-private partnership to position Raleigh as a top five city for innovation and entrepreneurship.”
By late 2015, the storytelling campaign had yielded coverage of Greater Raleigh by a list of national and global media outlets including Entrepreneur, Le Monde, CNNMoney, Forbes, Mother Nature Network and others. In all, there have been 22 placements worth more than $6 million in editorial impact.
Wake County Economic Development also draws global business influencers into the region for a first-hand look. This fall, it organized a “familiarization tour” that brought a dozen national site-selection consultants to the Triangle for a series of presentations, meetings and site visits. North Carolina Commerce Secretary John Skvarla and Research Triangle Regional Partnership Chief Operating Officer Lee Anne Nance were among those addressing the group.
Wake County’s Edge campaigns were launched in 1995 and have tallied a long list of accomplishments. From 1995 through 2012, net jobs in Wake County grew by 58 percent. County voters approved four bond packages for school construction totaling $3 billion. The region recruited the NHL’s Carolina Hurricanes franchise. Most of I-540 is now complete, and other surface transportation improvements have taken place.
Early evidence suggests Edge 5 efforts will yield similarly impressive results. In April 2015, WCED helped facilitate the arrival of CBC Americas’ new 67-job corporate headquarters in Cary’s Regency Park. The U.S. unit of the Japanese industrial giant relocated to Wake County from its longtime headquarters in Long Island, N.Y. Later that month, Forbes ranked Raleigh #2 in the nation for technology job creation, ahead of both Silicon Valley and Seattle. There have been numerous other relocation and expansion wins – and more accolades.
WCED also engages is long-term product development efforts. The organization’s recently-launched Site Assessment Program identifies and assists with the development of potential industrial properties in Wake County. Thus far, the program has evaluated 56 sites spanning a total of more than 4,600 acres.
With workforce assets driving the relocation and expansion plans of Knowledge Age businesses, WCED has made an unparalleled commitment to talent attraction. Its www.workinthetriangle.com talent portal is a convenient one-stop resource for those exploring the possibilities of living, studying and working in Greater Raleigh. Alongside city and regional partners, WCED took its talent recruitment message to the 2015 South by Southwest (SXSW) Interactive Trade Show and Job Fair in Austin, as well as other local and national trade shows in order to promote the region and its career opportunities.
WCED has long been a partner and financial supporter of regional economic development strategies and programs, including Research Triangle Regional Partnership. The two organizations work in tandem taking the region’s brand and competitiveness strategies to key business decision-makers inside the region and around the globe.