Corporate America's 'Who's Who' visits Triangle

Posted June 12, 2011
Updated June 13, 2011

— Just about every aspect of what the Research Triangle Park area is known for, from high tech to biotech and entrepreneurship, received a first-hand inspection Monday from a “Who’s Who” in corporate America.

The White House Jobs and Competitiveness Council held five “Listening and Action Sessions" Monday morning.

The major discussion points included access to capital, mentoring for entrepreneurs, the need for highly educated immigrants to stay in the U.S. once they've graduated and more STEM education, which stands for science, technology, engineering and math.

President Barack Obama is set to arrive late-morning for a tour of manufacturing facilities at Durham-based Cree.

Cree is one of the world leaders in light-emitting diode technology that is seen as a longer lasting and more efficient alternative to conventional lighting, and its CEO, Chuck Swoboda, has met Obama before to discuss energy issues. Vice President Joe Biden also has toured the plant.

However, there is much more to Monday’s activities than the Cree visit.

The Council, led by Jeffrey Immelt, chief executive officer of General Electric, is expected to disclose details about an economic growth plan that the group has been working on over the past several months.

Austan Goolsbee Web only: President's Council on Jobs and Competitiveness visits Durham

Paul Otellini, president and CEO of chip giant Intel Corporation, is also scheduled to be in the Triangle.

The five sessions and executives who participated include:


Steve Case, a founder and former CEO of AOL, was among six executives who toured the American Tobacco Historic District’s “American Underground” entrepreneurship incubator. The group then met in the offices of advertising firm McKinney to hear from business leaders.

Other participants included:

  • Venture capitalist John Doerr of Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, one of the nation’s largest such firms
  • Dick Parsons, chairman of Citigroup
  • Sheryl Sandberg, chief operating officer of Facebook. The social media giant is building a huge data center in western North Carolina.
  • Robert Wolf, chairman, UBS Americas
  • Austan Goolsbee, chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, who recently announced his plans to resign

Innovation and Biotechnology

Biogen, one of the world’s largest biopharmaceutical firms which has a major presence in RTP, was the site for this meeting.

Participants include:

  • Mark Gallogly, cofounder and managing principal, Centerbridge Partners
  • A.G. Lafley, former chairman and CEO, Procter & Gamble
  • Eric Lander, director, Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard
  • Antonio Perez, chairman and CEO, Eastman Kodak Company
  • Valerie Jarrett, senior adviser to Obama
  • Mike Strautmanis, counselor to the senior adviser for strategic engagement

Energy Innovation and Smartgrid

The Triangle is an emerging hub for smartgrid technology development with such companies as Elster Solutions, ABB, Sensus and Cree. Progress Energy and Duke Energy both have major smartgrid projects underway.

The site for the center was the FREEDM Systems Center at North Carolina State University's Centennial Campus, which is a federally supported networking research and development project. Immelt participated in the meeting.

Other participants include:

  • Lewis Hay III, chairman and CEO of NextEra Energy
  • Gary Kelly, chairman, president and CEO of Southwest Airlines
  • Brian Roberts, chairman and CEO of Comcast Corporation
  • Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke

Work Force Training

North Carolina Central University hosted this session.

Executives who participated:

  • Roger Ferguson, president and CEO of TIAA-CREF
  • Joseph Hansen, international president of UFCW
  • Monica Lozano, CEO of impreMEDIA
  • Darlene Miller, president and CEO of Permac Industries
  • Penny Pritzker, chairman and CEO of Pritzker Realty Group
  • Melody Barnes, director of the Domestic Policy Council
  • Don Graves, Department of Treasury


North Carolina’s manufacturing sector has been damaged heavily by the 2008-09 recession. DuPont hosted the session at its offices in RTP. Ellen Kullman, chairwoman and CEO of DuPont, was on hand.

Other participants included:

  • Intel’s Otellini
  • Matt Rose, chairman and CEO, BNSF Railway
  • Laura Tyson, S.K. and Angela Chan professor of Global Management, Haas School of Business, UC Berkeley
  • Fred Hochberg, chairman and president, Export-Import Bank of the United States
  • Karen Mills, administrator, Small Business Administration

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  • TheAdmiral Jun 13, 2011

    What amuses me about most folk knocking "corporate America"

    ... are probably the same ones who complain about "The Company" not treating their 401k's, 403's, etc correctly not connecting the government regulations to the heap the company now gives them as a benefit.

  • rickmessemer Jun 13, 2011

    What amuses me about most folk knocking "corporate America" is their savings, 401k's, 403b's, annuities, etc., all of which invest in Commercial Paper (Stocks). To be true to your complaints about profits of major corporations, may I suggest selling out all your stock and invest in US Savings Bonds, let's say with a 20 year maturity. (Hope you can cash out of that one!)

  • flashsparks Jun 13, 2011

    The economic prosperity during the Clinton years was due to the Internet Supper Bubble. That bubble burst in late Winter 2000 which is a year before Bush took office. Not only did Bush had to clean up Clinton's mess, but then 9/11 happened and the aviation industry was shut down for nearly two weeks. That accounts for nearly a third of our economy. With all that stuff, unemployment under Bush never even approached 7%. So don't give us this line that it's Bush's fault.

  • davidgnews Jun 13, 2011

    Well, it's clear all of those folks participating have jobs so let the happy talk start rolling ....... Yawn. Next charade.

  • Nancy Jun 13, 2011

    ghimmy, the only 'surplus' was at the expense of raiding the SS funds, try again.

  • ghimmy51 Jun 13, 2011

    TheAdmiral. Bull to you. There WAS a budget surplus when Clinton left office. It's public record available to anyone with the sense to look. The majority of the current deficit can be found in unpaid for tax breaks for the wealthy and unpaid for prescription drug benefits as well as a useless war in Iraq and a mismanaged war in Afghanistan, where the enemy happened to actually be. Don't be ashamed of being ignorant. It can be remedied with education.

  • Nancy Jun 13, 2011

    Wait, wait! Are the very people who complain that corporate america is the nemesis of all things (you know, those greedy CEO's like GE and others) now the ones who want answers on how to grow the economy and drive jobs?

    Desperation is showing.

  • TheAdmiral Jun 13, 2011

    "Obama is trying to clean-up the mess Bush left behind. Clinton left a surplus..."


    The progressives have created a rift between responsible thinking people and whose who want to always be on the government dole.

    It is obvious by the Nancy Pelosi line you are parroting that you haven't woke up from the Clinton Coma.

  • nighttrain2010 Jun 13, 2011

    >>They will come and they will dine on whatever the state has to offer,then they will speak of things that have no real bearing on todays problems,then they will fly away feeling good about themselves

    You forgot the kickbacks their companies will be receiving as Congress passes laws in the next few years putting those businesses in favorable positions moving forward. Of course many in Congress will buy stock in those companies now to ensure they get a kickback (outside of PACs) from passing 'favorable' legislation

    Just wanted to remind you lest anyone believes this nation is in any fashion a free market (it isn't)

  • magee43 Jun 13, 2011

    Obama is trying to clean-up the mess Bush left behind. Clinton left a surplus and Bush and the elected Republicans voted to help only the rich. Obama has done a lot to help us but the Republicans will tell all kinds of lies before they will admit his accomplishments. I don't know of any middle class or the poor that received any benefit from Bush and his right supporters. Keep talking about eliminating Medicare and see much of a loss Republicans will take in this election.