RALEIGH – The Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce is set to hold its annual meeting this afternoon, and there’s a lot happening.
The virtual event will feature a keynote from Lynn Good, chair, president, and CEO of Duke Energy, who has been recognized by Fortune magazine as among the “Most Powerful Women in Business” and by Forbes as one of the “World’s 100 Most Powerful Women.”
In addition to the keynote address, the event will include a roundtable conversation with senior executives from FUJIFILM Diosynth Biotechnologies, IBM, IHS Markit, and the Raleigh Chamber of Commerce, as will as a presentation highlighting the success stories from the prior fiscal year.
The meeting is structured around the organizing theme “Leading with Purpose,” according to Adrienne Cole, President and CEO of the Raleigh Chamber of Commerce.
Cole spoke with WRAL TechWire ahead of the event. An edited transcript of our interview is below.
- Tell us more about what will be discussed at the Annual Meeting.
The Raleigh Chamber serves as a connector for our business community. We sit at the crossroads of several critical initiatives—economic development; public policy; transportation; talent; diversity, equity, and inclusivity; support of member businesses and industries. But none of these initiatives exist without the others.
Equitable economic development would not be possible without accessible transportation. Our efforts to bring top companies to the region would be fruitless if not for key public policy initiatives and our strides forward in DEI. And as we all know, education is at the root of our community’s growth and vibrance.
We are honored to have a voice in each of these conversations and we are grateful for the collaboration and partnership of this community and its leaders. When it’s all said and done, we exist to welcome these challenges and opportunities with tenacity, agility and an unsinkable entrepreneurial spirit—so that the greater Raleigh metro region can continue to Lead with Purpose here in North Carolina and nationwide.
- What are Raleigh’s strengths?
Our community’s success is a result of years of intentionality and collaboration across our region. Our high quality of life, talent pipeline, education and workforce partnerships and diverse business ecosystem continue to anchor our community as one of the best places to live and work.
- What are notable success stories for Raleigh’s economy that took place in 2020 and thus far in 2021?
Wake County has had many successes in 2021 as a result of momentum from 2020. Since our fiscal year began in October 2020, we have announced over 5,800 jobs and $3.7 billion in planned new capital investment including expansions by FUJIFILM Diosynth Biotechnologies and new companies to the market like Amgen, Penny Mac, Invitae, and, of course, Apple.
- How is Raleigh positioned, right now, to compete with other regions across the country in attracting investment, businesses, and talent?
Each year we commission a study comparing the Raleigh metro to 100 of the largest metros in the US across 260 indicators comprising five indexes. The analysis revealed that the Raleigh metro was the most competitive metro in the nation, outperforming other larger communities.
Wake County is well-positioned to compete and continues to be a prime destination for talent and new investment. We are pleased by recent rankings recognizing our community as a top place to live, a global life science hub, a “millennial magnet” and top tech hub, among other accolades. Being included on lists like these energize us to keep working on our community and ensuring its success for years to come.
- What challenges does Raleigh face, right now?
Here in Raleigh and Wake County, we have a long track record of strong collaboration across the public and private sectors to address our community’s most pressing challenges. We don’t shy away from identifying challenges and working together to solve them.
We continue to focus on economic mobility and diversity, equity and inclusivity. The Chamber, along with other partners, are leading a process to determine a Blueprint to dismantle systemic racism and create more economic opportunities for people of color in Wake County. Last month our Triangle DEI Alliance hosted over 800 people at our annual conference. This impressive participation signals our community’s commitment to improving the quality of life for all of our residents.
We remain focused on answering our community’s transportation needs through the Regional Transportation Alliance, with specific emphasis on transit including commuter rail, identifying sustainable funding for RDU and surface transportation, improved travel time and reliability for I-40 and support for innovative mobility solutions.
This important work does not take place in a vacuum and we are proud to work with our community on initiatives that benefit us all.
- How is the Triangle faring in response to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, and new concerns over increasing cases in the region?
Raleigh’s economy is holding strong, though we do recognize the uneven impact that COVID has had on our community. Here in Wake County and the Research Triangle region, we are fortunate to have a world-class public health system. Our public health leaders at the county level, our hospital systems and our first responders have all done a truly amazing job under unprecedented circumstances.
- What changes might best increase Raleigh’s potential, competitiveness, talent base?
We have to stay focused on making smart investments for our future.
We have to continue to invest in infrastructure, education, transportation and transit, open space, arts and culture, and our urban centers while also staying focused on housing affordability, fostering diversity, equity and inclusion, sustainability and equitable economic development.
There is also an opportunity for the community to work together around a broad vision for the future. Raleigh is an ascending market and that ascension is accelerating.
We will continue to grow, so we must ask how do we want to shape that growth, leverage it and create a place that will win not only today, but for years to come.