Fourth Sector Cluster Initiative Focus of RTRP Institutional Partners Gathering

Research Triangle Region, N.C. – An innovative social enterprise cluster initiative leverages market-based approaches to solve social problems while promoting job creation and economic growth.

Heerad Sabeti, convening trustee of the Fourth Sector Network, and John Parker of Good Work reported on the initiative Aug. 4 at the quarterly meeting of the Research Triangle Regional Partnership (RTRP) Institutional Partners.

Launched in January 2010, the North Carolina Fourth Sector Cluster Initiative is a statewide collaboration aimed at accelerating the growth of the fourth sector -- enterprises that leverage market-based approaches to solve social and environmental problems, such as green and sustainable businesses. The Initiative is bringing together business and community organizations, academic institutions, economic developers and representatives from local and state government to develop and implement a regional, cluster-based strategy for promoting job creation, economic growth and community problem-solving throughout North Carolina, based on a model created in the Research Triangle Region.

The goals of the Initiative are to establish the Fourth Sector as an economic development cluster and convene stakeholders interested in growing the cluster. “We want to raise awareness about sustainability, social enterprise and innovation, and related economic development strategies,” said Parker. Parker thanked RTRP for taking the leadership role in the region to create a sustainability cluster in which the Fourth Sector will be a part.

The region’s Fourth Sector Cluster Initiative received national attention from the President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness recently when the initiative’s executive committee met with senior council officials. Sabeti noted that the support of Sonal Shah, who heads the White House Domestic Policy Council’s Office of Social Innovation & Civic Participation, “had helped focus attention on social enterprise as an important economic development priority.” Members of the executive committee recently met with N.C. Commerce Secretary Keith Crisco to secure the support of his department in growing the Fourth Sector Cluster.

For more information on the Fourth Sector Cluster Initiative, visit

RTRP’s Institutional Partners includes government, academic and nonprofit organizations that voluntarily align their strategies and activities to support the region’s economic development strategy, called “The Shape of Things to Come.” The group meets quarterly to review progress and results, plan how to achieve the goals of the strategic plan, and receive briefings on issues and activities related regional economic competitiveness.

The next quarterly Institutional Partners meeting will be held Nov. 3. For more information, attend or make a presentation, contact Pam Wall, RTRP vice president of product development, at (919) 840-7372, ext 24 or

The Research Triangle Regional Partnership is the public-private organization that leads economic development for the Research Triangle Region of North Carolina, home to The Research Triangle Park and the 13 north-central N.C. counties of Chatham, Durham, Franklin, Granville, Harnett, Johnston, Lee, Moore, Orange, Person, Vance, Wake and Warren.For more information on regional economic development, visit