What do you get when you mix the next batch of Raleigh’s leaders with city-wide influencers, in-depth exposure to the city’s economic infrastructure, and a two-hour scavenger hunt? A lot of insight and one tired group of professionals! This week, to kick off Leadership Raleigh 38, we had the pleasure of interacting with a knowledgeable and seasoned group of professionals representing economic development, real estate, and higher education.
The group of roughly 50 Leadership Raleigh participants began the day with breakfast at Parker Poe Law Firm located in downtown Raleigh, while engaging in an insightful panel discussion including Adrienne Cole (Raleigh Chamber), Tom Rabon (New Kind), and David Spratley (Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina). Michael Haley (Wake County Economic Development) moderated the discussion. The panel highlighted many of the “behind-the-scenes” ways in which the city works to recruit companies to the area. Other topics included collaborating broadly with city partners like NC State, as well as explaining the city’s value-add, competitive edge, and incentive packages. The discussion was good-natured and candid, leaving participants with a deeper appreciation for what is required to attract and retain businesses.
The remainder of the day’s activities were complementary to the foundational breakfast Q&A panel. Participants traveled to NC State’s Centennial Campus to learn more about the university, its co-located partners, and how the marriage between industry and academia contributes to economic development. The lunch hour was jam-packed with a delicious buffet-style lunch at Sitti’s extended special events area, “Jiddi,” and featured presentations from Andrew Stewart (Empire Properties) and Kris Larson (Downtown Raleigh Alliance). Participants gained a better understanding of Empire’s vast real estate presence, in addition to some of downtown Raleigh’s history, and plans for future development.
Following lunch, the day’s formal activities concluded with a two-hour scavenger hunt throughout downtown Raleigh. Groups were divided into small teams and tasked with finding clues to successfully complete the challenge. Despite the knowledge gained earlier in the day, participants were most likely surprised to know that there is a cat called the “Oak City Kitty” with its own Instagram page, makes daily appearances in downtown Raleigh, is chauffeured around in a stroller, and is about 20-years-old. Who knew?!
Scavenger hunt winners were announced during the post-day happy hour, held at Trophy Brewing, an activity that was enjoyed by all. It was an awesome way to kickoff what we foresee as an insightful, challenging, and collaborative program year. Special thanks to the previous Leadership Raleigh groups responsible for pulling this day together.
-Nanci Washington (LR38 - NC State)