Recently, the Gwinnett Chamber took our top leaders to North Carolina”s Research Triangle on its annual Strategic Leadership Visit to meet with their peers and learn best practices in a number of areas. Here”s what we learned.
At the heart of their region”s success is the Research Triangle Regional Partnership, a public-private partnership dedicated to keeping the 13-county region economically competitive. By pooling resources, they are able to stretch their marketing dollars much further than any community could have done individually. For us, with no autonomous regional economic development group promoting the Atlanta to Athens region, the Innovation Crescent Regional Partnership will be the leadership organization to fill that void.
Through strong business-education partnerships, innovative business practices were employed by Wake County Schools and test scores went up, teacher satisfaction improved and community support for the schools reached new levels of pride. Continued business support for our public schools will also result in higher test scores and graduation rates, improving our workforce.
The Regional Transportation Alliance was formed to lobby for transportation improvements for the entire region. Today, commute times have been cut in half since the creation of Raleigh”s Outer Loop and other projects. A business voice on transportation issues is critical. The Gwinnett Chamber”s enhanced lobbying efforts for new transportation funding in partnership with the Get Georgia Moving Coalition will also produce positive results in the near future.
Wake County has successfully exploited its reputation as the home to N.C. State University and its Centennial Campus, recently named the nation”s top research park. By partnering with university officials, Wake economic developers have created effective precision marketing efforts focused on recruiting high-wage clusters. Gwinnett will continue to focus future efforts on partnerships with our colleges and universities and strengthen the Highway 316 corridor”s position as a cluster of higher education.
Both downtown Raleigh and Durham have used long-term visions with solid master plans to create a renaissance in once-blighted areas. Durham”s American Tobacco Project renovated abandoned warehouses into great retail, nightlife and housing. Our older neighborhoods and many downtowns will be the catalyst of our own "renaissance" that can serve as magnets for the "creative class."
Strong public-private partnerships, visionary leadership and regional collaboration were the keys to their success – and ours. We”re on the right track and only time will tell what creative ideas and visions were stirred on this visit that will impact our future for generations.