Smart Region Elements Tee Up Research Triangle Region for Next Competitive Frontier, Business Leaders Report
RESEARCH TRIANGLE REGION, N.C. (May 21, 2015) – A convergence of technology-enabled innovations, highly educated workforce, connected leadership and a critical mass of companies working in leading-edge sectors have created a “smart region” and an economic powerhouse in the Research Triangle Region of North Carolina, business leaders reported May 21 at the 12th annual State of the Research Triangle Region event.
“In any given time frame, our story is about exceptional people doing extraordinary things, and their work results in new inventions, new companies, new opportunities and new horizons,” Charles A. Hayes, president and CEO of the Research Triangle Regional Partnership (RTRP), told more than 800 business and community leaders.
The annual economic forum, hosted by RTRP with presenting sponsors Atlantic Coast Pipeline, Chatham Park and PSNC Energy, focused on what it means to be a smart region and the impact that brings to the region and beyond.
“Smart” refers to the range of technologies and data analytics that enable intelligent products, services and processes. It also refers more broadly to a region that leverages its technology innovations with top talent retention, educational opportunities at all levels and innovative individual services that create sustainable communities, support a high quality of life and create economic opportunity.
Examples abound that demonstrate the region’s emerging leadership as a smart region, Hayes said. Among them:
- Smart people – More than 47 percent of the region’s adults hold college degrees, significantly more than the national average of 38 percent. With 34,000 a year moving in, the region is “not only home to smart people, it is really a beacon for smart people,” he said.
- Smart governance – Towns of Benson, Cary and Smithfield team with companies, such as ElectriCities of North Carolina and SAS, to implement smart electric and water systems that save money and natural resources while providing the latest intelligent services for residents.
- Smart mobility – Hikers, bikers and joggers navigate 100-plus miles of trails that connect the 3,700-acre Capital Greenway system using the city of Raleigh’s new greenway app, while motorists along the region’s interstates travel more smoothly and efficiently with assist from the N.C. Department of Transportation’s intelligent transportation system.
- Smart environment – Pinehurst cut water usage in half at two U.S. Open golf tournaments last summer thanks to innovations designed by N.C. State University researchers to reduce the environmental footprint of those events.
- Smart living – A unique venture in Warren County is working to build sustainable livelihoods through responsible stewardship of natural and cultural resources, such as promoting fresh homegrown goods, while developers and technology partners develop Chatham Park as a 7,000-plus-acre model sustainable live, work and play community in Chatham County.
The result: a smart economy.
“Being part of a smart region creates competitive advantages for companies located here and for companies who are looking for a place to locate and grow – an advantage that we leverage as we fulfill our organization’s mission to market and brand this region to create jobs and investment,” said RTRP Executive Vice President Lee Anne Nance.
It also provides a platform for the next wave of innovation – advanced industries, Hayes said. The advanced industry sector includes manufacturing, energy and services, industries that rely heavily on technology research and development and science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) workers.
“Advanced industries are the top 50 leaders in the U.S. economy, employing 90 percent of the nation’s engineers, generating 65 percent of all U.S. patents and accounting for 17 percent of America’s top GDP – larger than any other sector,” Hayes said. “These are the growth industries of the 21st century, and this region – both our rural and urban counties – is the ideal place where all of them can grow.”
Hayes credited smart, connected leadership for helping shape the region, including those people who dared to propose crossing county lines 25 years ago to market their communities regionally to attract business investment. The event honored those people and celebrated the 25-year anniversary of RTRP with a panel discussion moderated by RTRP board chair Gary K. Joyner, Raleigh office managing partner for Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton LLP, and two former chairs, G. Smedes York, chairman of York Properties Inc. and McDonald York Building Co., and John L. Atkins III, chairman and CEO of O’Brien/Atkins Associates PA. They discussed what led regional leaders to collaborate on economic development, how the field has changed and what lies ahead.
The Research Triangle Regional Partnership (RTRP) leads economic development for the region that surrounds the Research Triangle Park and Raleigh-Durham International Airport. It also manages the Research Triangle Cleantech Cluster. For more information, visit www.researchtriangle.org/news-events/2015-state-of-the-region.
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Contact: Charles A. Hayes
President & CEO