This week, Public Policy Professor Maryann Feldman and Kenan Institute board member Christy Shaffer visited the Kenan Scholars to discuss business prosperity among regions.
Feldman, whose research centers around Research Triangle Park, spoke about the importance of Universities in creating prosperous business regions. Shaffer has worked for multiple businesses with North Carolina roots and currently serves as a Venture Partner. Together, Shaffer and Feldman spoke on the importance of industry growth in North Carolina, particularly in RTP.
Much like Silicon Valley in California, RTP is characterized, but not dependent on Universities alone. While the business heavy area, situated in the triangle formed by Duke University, UNC and NC State University, has become one of the nation’s leaders in industry, this has not always been the case.
A spreadsheet created by Bill Little, a member of the Research Institute Committee, documented that in the 1980s, 117 firms owed their existence to RTP. Feldman later inherited the database, which then listed 1800 companies who had ties to RTP. Now? As of 2017, the database has grown to encompass over 6000 businesses that were created in or moved to RTP.
What does this mean for UNC, and for the area? According to Feldman and Shaffer, ultimately, it means prosperity for North Carolina. Successful businesses attract talent from all over the country. The more opportunities there are here in our state, the easier it is to bring North Carolina college graduates, who have dispersed across the country, home to their roots here in North Carolina. In short: more opportunities lead to more talent, and more talent leads to greater prosperity for the state of North Carolina.