Commercial Banking Relationship Manager, BB&T
The Leadership Raleigh Class 37 launched into 2019 with a series of local leadership panels and small business tours featured for Local Economy Day. The day kicked off at the Raleigh Chamber with coffee and donuts where the first panel leaders awaited LR37 to discuss their thoughts on the overall state of Raleigh’s local economy and what they thought was vital to continued economic success of the region in the future.
Our first panel consisted of Derrick Minor (K4 Connect), Thomas White (NC State University), and Bridget Harrington (Innovate Raleigh). The three local leaders discussed what drew them to the area and why they think Raleigh has such a promising future. While each of the three had very different backgrounds and stories that led them to Raleigh, they all cited reasons for being here such as the nearby top quality universities, a high caliber local workforce, an affordable cost of living, and an overall high quality of life. Additionally, the panel unanimously agreed that while Raleigh does is not identified nationally by a particular landmark or structure, its most recognizable asset is its people. That fact is something to be excited about as the current and future leaders of the community can have a profound effect on molding Raleigh’s identity.
During our second interactive panel, we heard from Maggie Kane (A Place at The Table), Joe Milazzo (Regional Transportation Alliance), Billie Redmond (Trademark Properties), and Jimmy Connell (Hodge & Kittrell Sotheby’s International Realty). They shared their thoughts on the current state of the Triangle’s real estate market and transit conditions. Milazzo provided updates on the current transportation initiatives in the area that are aimed at improving all aspects of transit across the area. He also gave insight on future initiatives that will seek to improve mobility across the region as the area continues to grow. The panel expressed their views on what they believe is needed to ensure the region can continue to sustainably grow while meeting the needs of a diverse population of different socioeconomic backgrounds. During this panel, our group was encouraged to be active in Raleigh’s local government so that we may have a voice in the planning decisions that will shape our community’s identity in the future.
After our second panel, we traveled a few blocks north to Martin Street to the HQ Raleigh Capital Club where we had a delicious catered lunch.
For the second half of the day, we kicked off the afternoon with a small business panel that consisted of Kris Larson (Downtown Raleigh Alliance), Danya Perry (Wake County Economic Development), Pete Phipps (Arrow Barbering Co.), and Christie Williams (HQ Raleigh). We heard some of their thoughts on what has enabled small business growth in the downtown area to flourish over the last several years. We also gained a better understanding of how organizations like the Downtown Raleigh Alliance and HQ Raleigh support start-ups and small businesses both inside and outside downtown Raleigh through a plethora of resources centered around collaboration to fuel small business growth.
Following our last panel, we walked a few blocks until we reached the City of Raleigh (COR) Museum located in the historic Briggs Building on Fayetteville Street. Here, we learned how this city-operated museum carries out the mission of “preserving Raleigh’s past for the future” through collecting and preserving artifacts, curating exhibits, and providing educational programing to highlight the city’s unique history. Admission to the museum is free, but donations are well received as the organization relies on contributions to continue its offerings.
To wrap up the day, we toured two small businesses in downtown to gain a firsthand understanding of how they operate and contribute to the success of the local economy. First, we visited Father & Son Antiques on West Street in the Warehouse District. We toured the warehouse with all of its unique items for sale. Father & Son started in 1997 and offers a wide range of specialty items for sale from mid-century modern furniture and antique décor to vintage clothing and record albums. The specialized and rare inventory has enabled Father & Son to serve customers all around the country who are in search of a unique find.
The second small business we toured was Raleigh Denim Workshop, which also is located in the Warehouse District on Martin Street. Raleigh Denim has been in business for nearly 10 years and is well known nationally for its hand-crafted custom fitting jeans. The company prides itself on the quality of each of the nearly 300 pairs they hand make each year such that each pair is signed by its artisan. LR37 was able to witness every aspect of the jean manufacturing process, which is all handled at the company’s office in Raleigh. In addition to being able to purchase Raleigh Denim’s jeans and other hand-crafted clothing in store, the company’s inventory is carried around the country in a number of high-end retailers such as Bloomingdale’s and Saks Fifth Avenue.
Reflecting on the day as a whole, we were very fortunate to hear from so many local business leaders and entrepreneurs that are actively shaping our city and greater community in a positive way. One major takeaway was the importance of supporting small businesses through our patronage and collaboration to help them thrive in our area. Small businesses make up the backbone of not only our local economy, but also our state and country. Additionally, we need to continue to foster diversity in our community so that we may remain a dynamic region that continues to attract the best of the best in the future. We are so thankful for all the time committed by our speakers and for all the planning that went into our tours. We all look forward to what is in store for our Education Day in February.