Research Triangle Region Discusses Economic Power of Clusters at 2013 Global South Summit

Research Triangle RegionNovember 12, 2013

Research Triangle Region, N.C. -- More than a decade ago, the Research Triangle Region launched one of the world’s first job-growth strategies deploying a “cluster” methodology to lure companies and attract economic investment. Today its innovative leadership continues to serve as a model for regional competitiveness in the global economy. This week, Lee Anne Nance, executive vice president of the Research Triangle Regional Partnership (RTRP) will tell the story of the region’s cluster development as part of a best practices panel at the 2013 Global South Summit in Nashville.

“There’s undeniable evidence that our region’s cluster-based strategy has been successful,” said Charles Hayes, president and CEO of RTRP. He points out that since July 2009, when regional leaders established 11 cluster targets as part of the "Shape of Things to Come" strategy, 68 percent of the new jobs and 82 percent of the new capital investment announced as part of business relocations and expansions in the region has come from companies aligned with those clusters. “But acknowledgement of our job growth and business development strategy as a best practice by peer organizations and international research institutes is another clear sign that our results are noticeable,” Hayes says.

The Nashville-based Cumberland Center Global Action Program, a research entity affiliated with the Harvard Business School’s Institute for Strategy and Competitiveness, is sponsoring the Global South Summit. Harvard Business Professor Michael Porter developed the cluster analytic pioneered by RTRP and now in use in many other regions. Porter’s partnership with the U.S. Council on Competitiveness led to the initial analysis of the Research Triangle Region’s industry clusters in 2001, one of five U.S. regions selected as part of that study. 

The cluster theory maintains that Knowledge Age companies seek geographic proximity to suppliers, buyers, business partners and even competitors in order to spark vertical and horizontal synergies from which all benefit. Even government regulatory bodies function more effectively as they cultivate a critical mass of expertise needed to monitor industries efficiently, the theory argues.

Joining Nance for the panel discussion entitled “Clusters as an Instrument of Regional Competitiveness Efforts” will be Ben Erulkhar, senior vice president at the Detroit Regional Chamber; Neil McLean, executive director of New Carolina in Columbia, S.C.; and Jennifer Zeller, director of research at Georgia Power. Dr. Christian H.M. Ketels, an economist and faculty member at the Harvard Business School, will moderate the panel. More on the 2013 Global South Summit can be found at

The Research Triangle Regional Partnership leads economic development for the Research Triangle Region of North Carolina, the area within a 60-mile radius of the Raleigh-Durham International Airport and the Research Triangle Park. RTRP comprises economic development agencies across the region that work with a wide range of public and private partners to market the region for new investment and direct strategic efforts to ensure the region remains economically competitive. For more information, visit