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

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.

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RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. — 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.

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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