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'Balance' touted as benefit by regional partnership
Outgoing Region CEO Charles Hayes

DURHAM -- Wake, Durham and Orange counties serve as the hub for the Research Triangle Region, but their successes reverberate along the spokes that connect the 10 other counties to the region.

Last week, community and business leaders gathered at the Sheraton Imperial for the 2016 State of the Research Triangle Region address, expressing how that hub and spokes have formed an economic development wheel that has rolled along, relying upon adaptability, innovation and collaboration to push it along.

"This ability to adapt quickly, embrace creativity and promote intense collaboration is what drives innovation, keeps this region competitive ...," said Lee Anne Nance, chief operating officer of the Research Triangle Regional Partnership

The group adopted the theme, "The Region of &," which they say showcases the symmetry of the Research Triangle Region.

Franklin County Economic Development Director Ronnie Goswick, who also serves as secretary for the Region's Board of Directors, said the balance in the region gives everyone an opportunity to shine.

"We've got a lot of things to be proud of in the region; our ability to create a workforce and train our young people," said Goswick, noting that the area's schools, including Vance-Granville Community College and Louisburg College, are part of that preparation.

"Businesses want to locate here because of the universities and the workforce."

And while there is a distinct difference between the urban counties of Wake, Durham and Orange, and the rural counties, including Franklin, there is some symbiosis.

"We are in a very unique situation," Goswick said. "We complain about our workforce leaving Franklin County to go to Wake [to work].

"[Folks there] may want to live in a more rural area," Goswick said. "That's a positive for us.

"They didn't talk about it a lot [at the event] but they did mention manufacturing and how that will be pushed to the halo counties," he said. "As that takes hold, there will be manufacturing and advanced technology jobs that will be created and we will get some of that in the future.

"That's how we got companies like Palziv and Novozymes," Goswick said, referring to the Louisburg and Franklinton companies, respectively, that are two of the county's biggest industries.

"They didn't want to locate in the core counties, but they can still be close to the universities and have an educated workforce."

Finally, Goswick said, being part of the Research Triangle Region provides a benefit the county could not afford on its own.

"When we go on recruiting trips, a lot of companies have no idea where we are, but they know where the Research Triangle is," Goswick said.

"We've started selling them on the outlying areas," he said. "It's a win-win for both of us.

"We've got a group of urban counties doing well and we've got a group of rural counties doing less well in comparison, but they are doing much better than a majority of similar counties."

• Region President and CEO Charles Hayes, who is leaving to take a post at N.C. State, said unity in the region has been its key.

"The culture of collaboration is what makes us different from every other competing region in our country," said Hayes, who announced his retirement in April to become senior advisor of economic engagement at N.C. State's office of outreach and engagement beginning July 1.

He will be replaced as president by John Kane, chair-elect of the Research Triangle Regional Partnershipand Chairman and CEO of the Kane Realty Corporation.

"As the incoming chairman ... I look forward to working with the board, our members, and leaders in our communities, academic institutions and businesses to help shape a future that holds much promise," Kane said.

Goswick said Hayes has steered the ship well and expects a smooth transition.

"We're going to miss Charles Hayes and his leadership," Goswick said. "He's done a great job for us over the years.

"He's done a great job of making folks feel included ... he made us feel like we're part of the process."

Goswick, who himself is retiring at the end of June, said he expected that to continue under Kane.

"I think they've learned a good lesson," Goswick said. "There is no reason to change now."


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