Triangle Politics A weekly look at the local political scene

Chapel Hill officials celebrate new business incubator

From staff reportsMay 3, 2013 

Chapel Hill, Orange County and UNC officials showed off the new Launch Chapel Hill business accelerator this week and touted it as an important part of an effort to improve the town’s climate for young businesses.

“We can make businesses work here in Chapel Hill,” Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt said. “We can keep working businesses here in Chapel Hill. We can create an economic climate that will allow them to grow and create the economic diversity and commercial activity that we know we can sustain.”

The West Rosemary Street incubator opened in February. Eighteen businesses now call it home, including two that moved in Wednesday, Launch manager Dina Mills said. The companies offer a range of products and services, from waterless toilets to acoustics software and a gifting website. They pay rent on a sliding scale and are selected through a competitive process.

Jim Kitchen is the incubator’s first entrepreneur-in-residence, providing mentoring and advice. The companies also have the support of students, staff and resources from UNC’s Center for Entrepreneurial Studies at the Kenan-Flagler Business School.

Chancellor Holden Thorp said he was especially proud to see former student Betty Cogdell making a go of her dream to sell gluten- and dairy-free baked goods.

Thorp’s advice to potential entrepreneurs: “It’s a lot harder to do than you think it’s going to be, and a lot of people who quit don’t realize how close they might be to the goal line. If you can find a way to keep going, it’s always worth it.”

‘Parklets’ may be coming

Ever eager to add to the city’s inventory of parks, the Raleigh City Council is working on a plan to put them in an unlikely location: on-street parking spots.

“Parklets” are gaining steam in bigger cities such as San Francisco and Chicago. The idea is to create an oasis of open space, with temporary installations of plants, benches and public art amid asphalt and concrete. Hunter Buxton, who owns a Raleigh communications and event planning firm, wants to bring them to her city.

“I love that it would create walkability and beauty in our streetscapes,” Buxton told a council committee last week.

Council members were supportive of the idea, asking city staff to form a committee and report back on the logistics of allowing parklets.

“I think it seems like a fantastic idea,” Councilman Bonner Gaylord said. “It seems like it would be a great way to add some whimsy to our community.”

Smart-mouthed school system

BuzzFeed, which claims to have “the hottest, most social content on the web,” singled out the Wake County school system this week for its “sassy tweets.”

On Monday, a BuzzFeed post looked at “16 Sassy Tweets From The Nation’s 16th Largest School District.” It showed how the district’s Twitter account is showing a lot more attitude lately.

One example is Wake tweeting “How’s that working so far?” to a student who says she won’t go to bed until a weather delay is announced. When another student typed “comfusing,” Wake tweeted back “that ‘M’ in the word ‘confusing’ makes us want to keep you in class.”

The Twitter account is maintained by the school system’s communications staff, as Wake noted in one tweet. Wake’s follow-up tweet was, “Did you think it was the Easter bunny? Sorry ’bout that.”

Political Trails

• Durham County Republicans are hosting a Cinco de Mayo social at 5 p.m. Sunday at Torero’s Restaurant, 4600 Durham-Chapel Hill Blvd. RSVP to Misty.Odell@durhamgop.com.

• State Court of Appeals Judge Donna Stroud is guest speaker for the Durham All Interested Republicans meeting at 11:30 a.m. Wednesday at Hope Valley Country Club. Her topic is “The Elected Judiciary.” Admission $18; RSVP by Monday to Bruce Thoreson, bthoreson@earthlink.net or 919-596-6416.

• David McLennan, chair of the political science department at William Peace University, will speak to the Wake Democratic Men’s Club on May 13 at the Clarion hotel in downtown Raleigh. Doors open at 6 p.m., followed by dinner at 6:30 p.m. and the program at 7 p.m. RSVP to awdellingerjd@yahoo.com.

Compiled by Colin Campbell, T. Keung Hui and Tammy Grubb

Got a tip, item or coming event? Fax Triangle Politics at 919-829-4529, or send e-mail to metroeds@newsobserver.com. Send items by noon Thursday.

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