Originally published in the Raleigh News and Observer on January 15, 2018
California think tank Milken Institute ranks Raleigh as the No. 2 city in a list of best-performing cities for 2017 in creating and keeping high-quality jobs. Ho hum, booster of the Cap City? Well, now, let’s not get carried away.
At least, not without first offering a profound thanks to N.C. State University, which the institute reckons to be a major reason for the city’s draw.
For all the good universities in the Triangle, the institute noted in a report that NCSU was the only school hereabouts to place in the top 25 of Milken’s index of the best universities for technology transfer and commercialization.
The mission of that grand campus has never been characterized more accurately, in terms of Centennial’s mission and how it fits into the overall university charge to serve the people of North Carolina – and, in N.C. State’s case, the world.
When Centennial was created, it was a product of cooperation among academic, business and political leaders and by any measure, it has been a spectacular success. (There’s even an Arnold Palmer-designed golf course in the mix.)
Early concerns, about whether the business interests would drive academics, for one example, were quickly put aside. N.C. State has gotten it right in terms of finding a balance and keeping the academic mission foremost, to be assisted by the input of private concerns.
Credit the university’s leadership, particularly those in the chancellor’s office during Centennial’s formation and development, and current Chancellor Randy Woodson, for staying the course in terms of a focus on the core mission.
And now, Raleigh gets another tangible, black-and-white sample of evidence as to the value of having N.C. State University as one of the Capital City’s crown jewels. Raleigh is indeed a vital, growing, energetic place, with an increasingly diverse cross-section of young residents in the high-tech field. In downtown Raleigh on any given day, restaurants and coffee shops and business meeting centers are vibrant with high-tech workers and entrepreneurs who believe anything is possible.
And where was that attitude developed and nurtured? Chances are, down the street in the classrooms and labs of N.C. State University. Yes, indeed. The Wolfpack may roar on field and court, but the most productive and wide-ranging performances are in science and business venues. That’s glory.