Nancy McFarlane: Celebrating Obama's announcement, recognizing Raleigh's strengths

January 17, 2014 

Last week, I was talking with Raleigh entrepreneurs and small-business owners about economic development in our city. In that meeting, I heard a lot about how creative Raleigh is and how we don’t emphasize that enough as a city. I’ve thought a lot about that conversation, mulling over all of the ways Raleigh captures creativity and how that plays into economic development and job creation.

What does it mean to be creative? Some might say being imaginative or innovative; others might say creating “things” – products, services, education, art, design, community, sustainability, jobs. Raleigh has weathered the recent recession fairly well when compared with other communities of our size. This is due in part to the city’s fiscal management policies, to the local universities and colleges that produce a highly educated work force and also to the strength of our entire community to be imaginative during tough economic times.

Further evidence of Raleigh’s strength to create was seen Wednesday when President Obama visited N.C. State University to announce the creation of the Next Generation Power Electronics Innovation Institute (Jan. 16 news story). This is the first of three manufacturing institutes that will promote innovation and job growth. The new institute, led by NCSU, is a public-private partnership that will help drive investment in manufacturing technology and development of cutting-edge electronics, helping businesses boost efficiencies and jobs.

Our city and region have great resources from which to draw, and although success might be achieved alone, when we work together and build upon joint resources, we are able to achieve so much more. Raleigh thrives on partnerships, which is how we have realized some of our greatest accomplishments and why Raleigh can be a model of success for other communities. The administration’s choice of NCSU as the home of the first innovation institute was likely influenced by the strength of N.C. State’s world-class faculty and programs and their proven track record of building upon their assets to develop productive partnerships that benefit the university, state and regional and local communities.

N.C. State has a long history of successes built on partnerships with government agencies, private businesses and other colleges and universities. The Next Generation Power Electronics Innovation Institute represents partnership at its best, and who better to lead the institute than an organization that has a proven track record with great partnerships?

The president’s announcement was welcomed and celebrated. It not only highlights the best of Raleigh but also the best of partnerships. I was happy to see partisan politics set aside for the afternoon with both Republicans and Democrats supporting the announcement and recognizing the benefits not only for Raleigh and the Triangle but also for the entire state. I hope to see more bipartisanship as we work to further strengthen our economy and create jobs. To continue our success in being creative, let us look past political ideology and build on the strength of our local resources and community to work together to create solutions that foster economic growth and vitality.

Mayor Nancy McFarlane

Raleigh

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