EDGE – Wake County Economic Development
“Economic development is a team sport. Regionalism is key to Wake County’s economic vision and the Research Triangle Regional Partnership is our go-to partner in accomplishing that.”
- Adrienne Cole, executive director of Wake County Economic Development
EDGE – Wake County Economic Development: What's your Competitive EDGE?
When it comes to economic development, private sector leaders in Greater Raleigh have a strong voice. Through Competitive EDGE – a program of Wake County Economic Development – businesses can join with local governments in setting the direction and tempo of job growth, business recruitment and economic investment strategies.
“Economic development is a team sport,” says Adrienne Cole, executive director of Wake County Economic Development. “We’ve always been fortunate to have great public and private-sector partners.”
On January 1, 2015, Cole’s program officially embarks on EDGE 5, its next five-year campaign to support companies, entrepreneurs, talent and “quality of place” in Wake County. The program has a goal of raising $12 million in funding, about 75 percent of which comes from private sources. It should come as no surprise that Greater Raleigh businesses show such strong financial support for the EDGE strategy, Cole says. The program has been very successful over its 20-year history and the business community is highly engaged in crafting each five-year plan.
Wake Economic Development, a program of the Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce, will launch an aggressive publicity and media relations campaign as part of EDGE 5. The program has engaged DCI, a New York City-based public relations firm specializing in destination marketing, to help connect with media organizations around the globe. The program has also added a full-time public relations and marketing manager to elevate communications with external audiences, as well as partners and allies within the community. The strategy seeks to cultivate relationships with business journalists, but also reporters covering science, technology and the culture “beat.”
Cole and her colleagues hope to showcase assets and advantages through news stories -- highlighting themes such as Wake County’s appeal as a base for corporate operations, for example. “Raleigh as a headquarters destination is an untold story,” Cole says. In EDGE 5, Wake Economic Development also is focused on innovation and entrepreneurship by encouraging and enhancing networks between existing and potential entrepreneurs in partnership with the Council for Entrepreneurial Development (CED), the American Underground, HQ Raleigh and other organizations. The city’s support for start-ups was featured in a recent issue of Entrepreneur magazine with comments from Mayor Nancy McFarlane, a direct result of Wake County Economic Development’s efforts to promote Raleigh as a Top 5 city for innovation and entrepreneurship.
EDGE 5 builds on the success of EDGE 4. That plan, launched in 2010, included a prominent focus on talent recruitment that will continue. The effort included the creation of a regional talent web portal - www.workinthetriangle.org - that seeks to boost the supply of well-educated workers in the community with skills matching up to the needs of growing companies there. Wake County Economic Development also works one-on-one with businesses in addressing unique talent objectives, and collaborates with workforce development partners like Wake Tech and Capital Area Workforce Development Board to ensure the community has the talent to meet the needs of new and expanding businesses.
Another central component of EDGE through the years has been support for regional cooperation and competitiveness. Through EDGE, Wake County Economic Development supports the Research Triangle Regional Partnership’s (RTRP) efforts to promote the region’s brand, reach out to global site-selection consultants, grow high-impact industry clusters and provide project management support to local economic developers.
“Regionalism is key to Wake County’s economic vision,” Cole says, “and the Research Triangle Regional Partnership is our go-to partner in accomplishing that.”