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Big Push To Innovate! Five NC Cities Selected

InnovateNC, Institute for Emerging Issues, Wilmington
NC State

A new initiative to help spark innovation across the state will focus on five cities.  The announcement was made Friday at NC State's Hunt Library.

“Next up we have Greensboro!  Come on up Greensboro!” shouted Christopher Gergan, CEO of Forward Impact.

Gergan helped make the "InnovateNC" announcement.

The leaders at NC State’s Institute for Emerging Issues say "Innovate NC" is a first of its kind economic development initiative.  Five cities–Greensboro, Asheville, Pembroke, Wilson and Wilmington–will partner with several groups over the next two years to help boost innovation and jobs.

Anita Brown-Graham heads the Institute.

“We’re going to have to figure out how to get more people, more places engaged in this work.  And we’re absolutely convinced, not only can we do it, but we’ve assembled the right group to do it quickly," said Brown-Graham.

The new state-wide initiative is designed to help boost North Carolina’s Innovation ranking.  Nationally, North Carolina is considered “average.”

Bob Geolas is President and CEO of the Research Triangle Foundation.  He says “Innovate NC” can change that.

“But when I think about how hard it’s going to be for us to innovate, to do the kind of work that’s ahead of us, I am inspired by the fact that 60 years ago we had to make as big a decision then about innovation when North Carolina took on Research Triangle Park as a big idea!” said Geolas.

Grant Goings is the City Manager of Wilson, one of the five participating cities.  Goings said his team will build on local assets including the community-owned Greenlight Gigabit Network.

“Well obviously, many jobs in the future are going to be technology dependent.  We believe that cities need to be very innovative to create spaces and opportunities and capacity," said Goings.

Each participating city will receive support valued at over $250,000.

Leoneda Inge is the co-host of WUNC's "Due South." Leoneda has been a radio journalist for more than 30 years, spending most of her career at WUNC as the Race and Southern Culture reporter. Leoneda’s work includes stories of race, slavery, memory and monuments. She has won "Gracie" awards, an Alfred I. duPont Award and several awards from the Radio, Television, Digital News Association (RTDNA). In 2017, Leoneda was named "Journalist of Distinction" by the National Association of Black Journalists.
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