Roundtable: Economic recovery after coronavirus
The Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina, Wake County Economic Development and the Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce host a roundtable to discuss specific economic challenges and opportunities businesses in the North Central part of the state have faced in light of the pandemic.
Good afternoon, everyone. It's a few seconds. Afternoon. We'll get started here. We'll give 10 or 15 seconds more for a few of the late arrivals to join, and then we'll go ahead and get started. So bear with us just a few more seconds, please. All right, Very good. Well, it's about one after the hour and just out of respect for everyone's time, we're going to go ahead and get started on Christopher Chung. I have the privilege of serving as the CEO of the Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina, and I wanna welcome each of you to our onward. Is one North Carolina roundtable discussion, this time focused on what we call the North Central region, but basically here in the broader research triangle area, our team at the E. D. P. N. C. Is going to be posting to social media over the next hour or so, highlighting some of the comments from our Panelists and the insights that they offer. We certainly encourage each of you to do the same if you find some helpful nuggets of information that you'd like to share with your social networks. Uh, feel free to do that using the hashtag onward as one, you see it right there on the screen in front of you. But again, we certainly welcome to doing that as well. Before I turn it over to Michael Haley from the Greater Raleigh Chamber and Wake economic development, who is graciously agreed to help host today's conversation, I'm really excited to share with you. All of video is part of our onward as one campaign, which is designed really to do the same thing that today's roundtable is, which is to raise awareness of the different services that the E P N. C offers to companies, especially during these very challenging times that we've all been living through over the past nine months. So we're gonna play a quick 62nd spot that you may be seeing on TV s here in North Carolina's You tune in the different networks, but we're gonna play it for you right now so you can get a sense of what this marketing campaign looks like so we could see the video, please. Good morning, North Carolina. It's a new day. Across the state were opening up doors, setting up shops and bringing in first shifts. We're putting in the work to forge ahead. Now, with the help of the Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina, we move onward as one making connections, sparking collaboration, providing guidance. North Carolina businesses aren't just enduring but achieving from major cities to small towns, the future is just getting started. Our sheer will to build a thriving state has always been and always will be, what keeps us ahead. And we're building the North Carolina of tomorrow. Today, North Carolina businesses like yours could reach their full potential with GDP. NCS Covad Recovery Resource is grant and loan expertise. Startup counseling, export assistance and workforce development. North Carolina. Let's move. Onward is one. See you in the morning. Oh, well, thank you for that, Chris. That was a great video. It's Ah, it's a new day Indeed. Again, my name is Michael Haley. I'm the executive director of Weight County Economic Development, where a program of the Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce. I'm super excited to be our moderator today, and we're excited to be joined by by Chris and the E. D. P. N C. Team. As we provide additional perspective on Kobe. 19 recovery here in the research triangle region. I love the video because to me it spoke to who we are as a as a community and as a region. We're a region of what's next, and I think that's so much of what we're gonna be describing today. We're gonna hear Ah, story of resilience from a business in our community will also discuss economic challenges and opportunities as we look to recover from the pandemic here in our region, then we'll explore. Some of the valuable resource is services and council that 80 PNC provides to help businesses big and small through recovery and beyond, but now like to introduce our Panelists that we'll be hearing from today First. Christopher Chung, the CEO of the Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina. Mike Bowe Bay, the director of operations at Bright View Technologies here in our region. John Lloyd, ACC, the vice president global business services at E. D. PNC and Harry Swenson, the existing industry expansions manager for the North Central Region here at the e. D. P. N c. Again, thank you all for for joining us today and providing your insights on these really important questions. So the first question I'm gonna ask is open to all of us. I wanted to kick it off by allowing each of our Panelists to give a brief organizational update what your organization is doing we're seeing in light of the pandemic, Chris, I'll start with you to tell us about what the d, p and C is seeing during this time. Sure, and thanks again, Michael for Green Toe hosted today. Um, you know, we've got a pretty diverse mission at the e d P N C. It's everything from trying to recruit companies to North Carolina to marketing the state is, ah, leisure travel destination for tourists to come visit. And you know, we heard a lot in the past nine months about a a V shaped recovery or U shaped recovery, or even a K shaped recovery, which I think maybe wasn't intuitive for some of us until we looked it up. But that shaped recovery basically means you've got some sectors doing really well, even in spite of the pandemic or more recovering more quickly, have the pandemic and you've got some that are certainly hurting mawr than other industries are. And I think what we've seen in our work in economic development across the state mirrors that K shape rebound out of Kobe very much the same way the economy does. We've got areas in business recruitment where we're actually seeing some continued success. North Carolina's continuing to attract these companies in from outside to set up major new operations. A good example here, just outside of the region that were focused on today in Alamance County. Chick fil A. Of course, I know a favor for a lot of folks. Chick fil A announcing a brand new large regional distribution center. That's gonna be a couple 100 jobs. Ah, lot of investment. That's a good example of recruitment on the tourism front, we know that tourism has been slower to recover, partly because there's just a lot of people are not traveling, do the pandemic. So we're seeing both of those things when it comes to exist companies, which is really the focus of our discussion today. We've seen a tremendous amount of resiliency. We've seen great innovation and adaptation. I'm excited to hear from Mike and what he's done with bright new technologies as a great example of that for us. Helping existing companies has always been part of the mission for the easy PNC. Again, it's great to attract companies from the outside, but we never want to forget about tending to the needs of companies who are already here in North Carolina today. What barriers can we remove for them? What problems can we solve so that it can keep growing, keep adding jobs right here in our state? And so it's no more important than ever over these past nine months, especially given all of these challenging times that we're all going through. So again, big part of why we're doing round tables like today is to make sure that more and more existing businesses are aware of ways that we can assist them on. And hopefully they take us up on that and we can help them get through through these tough times. And we're all moving onward is one. Well, thanks for that, Chris. And hey, John, I want to turn it over to you to see if we could get some of your perspective on your great existing industry team. You are you. And here you are such awesome partners for us here in our region. And we'd love to get your perspective on this. Thanks, Michael. And thank you for your partnership is Well, good afternoon, everyone. My name's John Lack, and I just wanted to second what Chris said about Harry Swenson on our existing industry team, but in especially their the work that they do here in the region. The one thing I always hear from people after they meet Harry is that they wish they had met him earlier. Harry is for the businesses that are joining us today. He is a link to countless business services on resource that will help you navigate the challenges We're here in good times and bad. We're here to help you weather the storm with whatever issue it might be on. We help businesses of all sizes. One of the things that most businesses who haven't met Harry yet might be excited to know is that all of his services are free. And so with that, Harry one and I allow you to introduce yourself. Thanks, John. And as John mentioned, I'm Harry Swenson. I covered the North Central Prosperity Zone, which is Chris also said that's the research triangle region. For those that don't get out of the metro area just give you a quick overview. It includes German Wake Metro areas, but then I go up the company's north to person. Granville Vance Warren, Franklin County's, uh, east to edge Comb Nash Wilson Johnston south to Lian Arnett and West to Chatham and Orange County. So it's a neat area to work in. It's got over two million people and thousands of businesses, and I'm really grateful to work in that area. Thank you, Harry. And and thank you for your partnership in all you're doing across our entire region to support existing companies. And we're really fortunate today to be joined by one of those existing companies with Mike Bo Bae. Mike. Your business, like many, has been certainly resilient during Cove. It were hoping you could give us some background on on your business. Bright view technologies, the challenges you've seen and how you've overcome those challenges. Sure. Thanks, Michael. Um Mike Kobe, director of operations of right view, uh, we create design and fabricate engineered optics for use in the lighting. Three d sensing and display markets were located in Durham. We have 31 employees, So fairly small company. Our customer base So is Global North America, Europe and Asia. And as since we export a significant quantity of film, the Asia we noticed very early on in the pandemic back in even January, uh, the impact the shutdowns were having on demand out of China. So when the virus began spreading into Europe and North America, we realized just how devastating this could have been for our own business. We were kind of giving a heads up on that. Obviously, like most, we were concerned about the unknown inside the company and in our own personal lives. But in our markets as well. And as we struggled with sending those who could work from home, away from the office we were left with, how do we keep those that were forced to work in the labs and the production areas of our facility safe and orders were slowing and everyone was panicking. So it was really difficult to think that in the US, you know, we could realistically shut down like we have seen with our customers and our partners in China. But as things progressed, we definitely realized that, you know, closures were heading our way. Um, and then early early on, in that we started really kind of focusing on three things long before we even started hearing closures and things was, uh, internally to bright view. How can we focus on safety to our employees? Is this pandemic was beginning continuity? Can we keep business working for our employees as well as our customers and then the responsibility to the community as a whole? Ondas The reality of the closing of the businesses began to materialize. We felt like we needed to do something to keep operating and began looking at all options and what eventually led us. And we'll talk more later about pivoting to a significant portion of our business, um, to face shields and with the help of the Economic Development Partnership. Thanks, Mike, for that and again, a great example. Andi, we're all really excited to hear about how you were able to leverage those. Those resource is for us in Wake County. We're sort of seeing a similar a similar experience to what our Panelists have talked about. I sort of think of it in three different ways and how we'll be able to assist companies. One is through communication, what we're hearing about today and will continue to hear about is communicating what those resource is our what services are available, how we can support existing companies and to Chris's point earlier, Uh, every good economic development strategy has built first on existing industry. How do you support your existing companies? Those are the most important companies. Second, we've heard a lot about we're gonna hear a lot about It is collaboration. Something that this region certainly known for, is something that these partners were certainly known for. That's collaboration will need to continue to collaborate through this period of extended recovery as we deal with the pandemic, that is still very much a real challenge. Uh, not only for this region, North Carolina, for the country and for our world. And Chris, I'll recognize something that you said as well, because it's important we talk about the different services. There's different services available to our existing industry because the impacts have been different for companies. There is an unevenness when it comes to the impacts that we're seeing across different types of business. It's not necessarily just small businesses. Some small businesses have been able to pivot as Mike mentioned and have done quite well others have been impacted tremendously because of this, as well as large businesses. So that the different resource is are gonna be are really imperative for our companies because off the unevenness of of the current impacts of the recovery eso thank you all for that. Chris, I'm gonna ask if I don't. If you don't mind, I wanna ask you, Ah, A follow up question. How can the north Central region the research triangle region on DNA North Carolina as a whole position itself for future growth in light of the pandemic. What do you see? And you have such a good insight and giving your perspective. What do you see as the key opportunities and challenges for both our region in the state? Yeah, sure. Before I answer that question again, I'll just emphasize again a point that you made Michael, which is? There are a lot of different players involved in this. You know, Harry Swenson. We hope that a lot of companies, after today, will reach out to him and try to understand if there ways that he may be of service with these companies in the region to help them with future growth plans. But Ultimately, he's depending on a stable of partner organizations that we work with every day, whether it's to solve challenges around hiring and retaining workforce, whether it's perhaps getting connected with other potential customers either within North Carolina or maybe all around the world. Whether it's issues accessing many of the federal and state financial systems programs that can help companies, uh, to expand, add jobs, make new investment. There's a lot of different groups that Harry will work with, But again, we hope that Harry becomes that first point of contact for a lot of these companies that are looking, uh, maybe wanting to understand a bit more about ways that they can tap into. This network of resource is in terms of opportunities and challenges. I mean, I think you look statewide at North Carolina. That's of course. I still always going to say whatever region we're doing this in. I think investments in education are key because that makes up the future workforce and talent pipeline that all companies will depend on regardless of their industry sector. And we know even after Cove it is passed. Uh, every company, every industry sector is going to depend on having access to the best and brightest talent and our education systems B A k through 12 community colleges or universities all feed into that future. Talent pools that company, like Bright View and the quarter million other existing businesses in North Carolina could take advantage of. Infrastructure, of course, is also key, right? I mean, for a lot of our manufacturers being able to move product, uh, to and from that's absolutely key. So those two building blocks of education and infrastructure, I think they're always a given for the research triangle region. I think the region has challenges mawr of growth and abundance in more so than I think a lot of other areas of this country, especially you look at sort of the central part of this region, uh, the number of people moving here, the number of companies expanding. Uh, it is a It is a challenge of abundance as opposed to scarcity. And so it shows up in issues like affordable housing. It shows up in infrastructure that ability to manage a fast growing population without being overwhelmed. Uh, those air some issues that this region has had to think a lot more about these past 10 20 years. Schools making sure that schools can accommodate that fast growing population that a big chunk of the region is seeing also, some issues. Opportunities, I'd say continued support of our higher education institutions that really define this region again. The wait, You know, we called the North Central Prosperity Zone. But you know the rest of the world probably refers to as the Research Triangle Region and those three points on the Triangle Chapel Hill, Durham, Raleigh, home to these great world class universities. That really is such a big part of the engine for economic development in this area of the state, continuing to support those that's going to allow the region to continue attracting and growing these types of companies that are either in technology, life sciences or one of these other high growth sectors of the region. Depends on Hey, Chris, thank you. Thanks for that. And I think you hit on it. The fundamentals of this region, higher education, talent, diverse economy and great quality of life are are certainly important attributes and and, um, sort of point to the opportunities for for our region. And speaking of that diverse economy and those great existing companies like I want to turn to you. Governor Cooper recently visited you down at Bright View Technologies To recognize one. You're you're innovation and cooperation during the pandemic And to see first hand how you were able to pivot. You mentioned this earlier, but we're hoping you could talk to us a bit more about how your company did make that pivot during the pandemic. Explain some of the ways that you work with the d. P n c. To navigate those challenges presented by Kobe. 19. Yeah, sure. So First little little backup prior to me working with Harry, we have been working with N c State's I. E s focus on some upcoming employee training, which is available, And they had suggested that we should meet with Economic Development Partnership in North Carolina as well. And I had experienced with him in the past and some previous jobs and figured we were at a good stage in our business that yeah, you know, let's reach out and let's set up a meeting. Now this is all pre co vid. The meeting was scheduled to be held on March 23rd, and then when things started breaking with the pandemic. We rescheduled it with Harry to be a virtual meeting. Um, And then about that same time, we were as the leadership team of Bright View. We spent a very sleepless weekend trying to leverage what we knew and who we are and try to figure out a way to become essential. And we're busy trying to do this Pivot, if you will, to make face shield. On Monday morning, I canceled on Harry and I said, You know, hey, you know too much is going on. Let's just cancel the meeting. And then right after I sent the email, I literally noticed he had sent an email on Sunday, um, to me and I read it. And at the end of the email, it said, We have information on companies willing to pivot or willing to try to become essential. I immediately recent emails that disregard we're back on. But all I want to talk about is the end of your email. You know, Harry, let's let's have this discussion. And then after that, first, I mean, we were two minutes into the call. It was obvious that Harry was the right person to help us through this. You know, the state had already begun kind of pivoting, if you will, to that we began the discussions internally on what we needed. Um, I spent time with Harry getting necessary context. And really, it wasn't just like, who could help us, but also, who could we sell to, which was, you know, a huge part of this because we all felt like, Hey, we want to do this. It's something we can do. But, you know, if you can't market it, move it. It's not gonna help, um, and a little bit on bright view. So since we work with clear optical grade films, we have extensive converting capabilities in house as well. So we had most of the pieces, but we didn't have all of them. So Harry and the PNC Group were there to help us work through alternatives. They gave us some leads. They gave us some databases we could be pulling from. I was given those to my materials. People were working different avenues and, you know, every in our own employees to were very eager because everyone was concerned. If we don't do this, are we going to still be able to come to work. Um, all in, You know, it was interesting. Harry and I have had some conversations, and we went back through the records. We had over 10 conversations just on March 20. 3rd alone. By March 26 we had orders in house from the state of North Carolina for significant amount of face shields. And we took the idea of concept to a P O in under four days. And honestly, without DDP N c, I really don't think that would have happened. Um, And then to date, although, you know a lot of our businesses back, we're not. We still make a few face shields, and we still get orders for him. But, you know, to date, we've sold over 750,000 shields. Half of them have been to the north state of North Carolina and local municipalities within the state. We always took North Carolina first for who we were going to sell to and the majority of the assembly work. This is a really interesting part. Two was completed by using contract workers displaced by Cove. It so they would come to a contact list pickup point here in the building. We would drop the parts off to them. Everything they needed to build them. They would assemble them, come back, drop him off again, with no contact with our employees, Uh, with the finished product. And then at the peak, we had over 36 unemployed North Carolinians working, um, building face shields, which was, you know, we felt pretty exciting. It was interesting. We told the governor to that it was always I found I managed the contract base and it was really nice when somebody would send in an email or a phone call and say, Oh, I'm so sorry I got my job back. You know, I can't goto work now, and it was like, not a problem. I'm super excited for you and on. The unfortunate thing was, we could just go to the next person on the list. We had plenty of people to be able to do that. So you know that that ability to be able to supply the PP to the front line workers back in March and April, you know, coupled with helping not only our own employees keep working, but also giving, uh, sustaining paychecks over 30 displaced contract assemblers for the building of face shields. You know, honestly, one of the highlights you know, of our of my career. And we mentioned that the governor when he was in last week is Well, Mike, that is that is a great story. Um, it's a wonderful story about not only first serving like you said serving, um, you know, our local community 1st, 1st responders, the medical community with, you know, incredibly valuable PPE equipment. Um, but also being able thio provide that assistance to your neighbors. Um, in that way, through this through this work and the other thing that sort of stuck out to me, which is what you said was Harry was the right person. And that's certainly I think that that line has been echoed across our region a whole bunch. And so, Harry, a question for you in obviously with Mike's example, you played a tremendous role in helping him, and bright View is a is a pivoted. It made such an important pivot not only for their company, but for our community at large. So we know that you're supporting our existing companies in our region through your through your work. Regarding the pandemic. But what other services are you in the PNC providing to existing companies. Yeah, well, Michael, first, uh, I want to thank you for moderating this. Really appreciate it. And appreciate your regional perspective Is all these? Uh, and Mike, I hadn't toured Bright View like five years ago. I already thought they were pretty cool company. But when they pivoted so quickly from idea to sales production sales and then added that layer of helping unemployed people, it's just blew me away. So that was, uh that are times that first week especially. I think I felt like I was throwing spaghetti against the wall just to see what would stick, and some of it stuck, and Mike took advantage of it. But back to your question, Michael, about how do we help existing businesses? So, I mean, our mission at E. D. P and C is to improve the economic well being in quality of life of North Carolinians. How that looks on the ground with me in the north central region is I'm visiting companies, and I'm listening to them and hearing about their challenges and their opportunities. And then we connect them with a wide variety of services and resource is because these are the companies that provide those jobs from North Carolinians. They also pay the taxes, and they usually support their communities in many other ways. So so we also remember that existing industries often are seen as the ones who create most of the new job. So existing industry is so important. Uh, so that's why we have a team like me dedicated to working those. But But what does? How does that really look? What are some specific examples? Um, I don't want to just give you a laundry list. I'm gonna give you just a few short stories, a dozen about my interactions with companies. In some ways, we help them, just with the hopes that a company listening might say, Hey, that's something I could I could get some help with. And it's not just what GDP and see brings to the table, but it's all the additional resource is we can access through our local, regional and state partners who are just amazing. But here's a few examples just to show the diversity. Um, earlier this year I helped him food manufacturing and a half million dollar grant to support an expansion that created over 100 new jobs this fall. I helped the company that designs and manufacturers kids phone furniture, get a $460,000 building reuse grand and that assisted in renovating its operations so they could expand production. Um, inventor contacted me. They have developed a product to help kids sleep better at night, but they needed a company to manufacture their product. I was able to identify several potential companies using the manufactured in North Carolina website from the North Carolina Manufacturers Extension Partnership. Uh, I helped get 100 $15,000 grant to extend the public water line on that made possible and new mulch, dined facility and create 12 new jobs in a rural community. Pre covert, I visited a company that makes flooring for hospitals, and I had with me a colleague from our international trade division. We were able to identify an upcoming hospital show in South America and that the company was interested in attending, and we were offer able to offer them grants so they could afford to go. Uh, during the past couple of weeks, I spoke with a conveyor manufacturer who wanted to reduce its energy costs by having access to a gas line that was three miles away. Uh, I started discussions with company, the gas company, the city and county, and at this time, the gas companies determined if it's feasible to do that extension. Also, in the last couple weeks, I had a software I T company asked me for help in training for 60 new hires that they're trying to get on board. By February, I was able to connect them to the community college customized training team, and that team is getting it done. Uh, I was at a company a while back that manufacturers parts for automobiles, and they needed to quickly ramp up employment and production. In that instance, our local Workforce Development Board and RNC Works partners were able to organize a job fair and fill those positions. A small food equipment manufacturer helped with the building reuse Grand followed up and asked if I knew where I could get help for them with lean manufacturing, and that was an easy one. I connected them to our partners at N. C. State's Industrial Expansion Solutions. You might mentioned at the top of this. A small pork matt processor was looking for financing options to start his business, and I was able to tell them about about low interest USDA loans and tell him which banks handle those loans. A while back, a mobile home manufacturer was didn't like that. They were bringing truckloads of broken and discarded sheet rock to the local landfill. My contacts at Department of Environmental Quality of Waste Reduction Services were able to identify a nearby company that would compost it so it didn't end up in that landfill. And lastly, last example of a South American nutrition company that had established an R and D facility here with its own capital, they were now interested in accessing a commercial bank loan to expand into manufacturing. My contacts at the Small Business and Technology Development Center were able to assist. So so those are some examples, but what's the bottom line for companies listening to this? I mean, I don't want to give the impression that I have a solution for every problem or a grant for every opportunity, or that my partner organizations consol of every problem exactly the way it needs to be solved. But I do want you to know I would love to have that conversation with you and see if we can help you and your company. If we can help your business succeed. If GDP, n. C and its partners can help your company retain its workforce or create new jobs, then we're fulfilling our mission to help the economic well being of North Carolinians. You know, Harry, Thanks. Those examples were great, I think, for businesses that are listening here in our region, I think there was some something there for everyone. You not only in the types of businesses, but the types of services and resource is you were able to bring forward. And that's really important. I know for us at Wake County economic development, we enjoy a very close partnership with the Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina. In a lot of ways, this has certainly been the case, but much before the pandemic and certainly through it. And we'll continue to have that partnership afterwards, You know, for us, um example is we, uh, here in Wake County? We have 12 municipalities in the southern half of the research Triangle park. Every other month, our economic developers get together. We're doing that in fact, this week, uh, just to give updates, share information. Harry participates in that in that in those meetings. Harry. One of our important essential colleagues in those meetings. And so that's a great example of Of of Harry's work there. Another one is the work that the any PNC assists our local businesses with our with our international business import export trade assistance is something that's that's very important through co vid and through the pandemic. The D, P and C has been wonderful, and sharing resource is much like we do on our website. Riley Dash, wake dot or GCI d p n. C. Has been sharing. Resource is throughout this, and it's importance of businesses that are listening. Resource is and services are constantly being updated, new resource is, and services are being brought to the fore to address challenges for businesses. Harry and the E. D. P. N C. Team we're gonna know about those. Resource is it's an important call. And what I just heard Harry talk about Harry. You said you don't have a solution for every problem, but it sure seems like you have a solution for just about every problem. So, Harry should be someone you should call should call your local economic developer. You should call Harry. And those are those Are two really important of phone calls for existing companies to make, you know, Mike, wear mentioned. Sort of. The resource is regarding the pandemic. We know we all know the pandemic. What will end soon? I mean, there's, you know, and we we look forward to that day for sure. But tell me, uh, if you don't mind one way that you see, uh, change the pandemic, changing the way you operate your business over the long term, you gave a great example of how you pivoted in the short term in the near term. How is this going to change the way you operate over the long term? So I think a big lesson for us has been. You know, nobody really plans for a pandemic. We were commenting a few days ago. How, um, you know our emergency response manual that most manufacturing companies don't. It may include pandemic, but it's a little paragraph. We all know now that doesn't cover it. So I think for us it's, you know, be grounded in what your core competency is, but also be flexible enough to repurpose or pivot. So what you need at any given time And I think, you know, as you mentioned on here, you know, ask for help. Look, for resource is if you need Thio, you can't necessarily do everything internally. But there's there's probably somebody who can help you. And I think this experience, I feel, will help us in the future. Uh, reacting to any challenges, I just Hopefully it's focused on our core business and not another you know, global pandemic or health crisis. So I think that's probably the biggest thing. Yeah, thanks for that, Mike. You know, it sounds like a well, through your experience with Harry and the d p N c. A. A new relationship and collaborative partner has been, has has been formulated, which I think is really important, like Harry mentioned, Uh, it wasn't the first time he had he had been over thio your operation. He had actually visited five years before. So again, that building of the relationship is really important. Chris, from your perspective, we ask Mike about how his operations would be impacted over the long term was what happened with your perspective on sort of your outlook for not only the research triangle, but for North Carolina. Hey, through this conversation, as you know, Chris and we and we speak often, you know, we're bullish about our future here in the research triangle region. So we'd love to get your perspective on on some opportunities that you see for our region and why you are optimistic about our future. Sure. Well, I'd probably be in the wrong line of work if I if I wasn't bullish. I think that's the inherent for economic development professionals in general to be upbeat about the prospects of their communities that they serve. And I'm the same way when we talk about North Carolina. Or, of course, this region that we're focused on today. Uh, a lot of the fundamentals that make North Carolina and attractive location for businesses to either grow and expand or businesses to come locate. Ah, lot of those fundamentals, fortunately really have not been all that affected by this pandemic. Obviously again not to downplay the seriousness of this pandemic. From a public health point standpoint and an economic standpoint, we know that There are costs that many of our communities and neighbors air facing when we get past this, and it's looking more and more like that's going to be sometime over the next six, maybe 12 months, but certainly a year from today. I think the world in general is gonna be sitting in a much different spot of a better spot. North Carolina will still have retained, if not actually built on, a lot of those fundamental advantages that have continued to make us an attractive place not just for companies to be, but also for people that want to come live here. I think this region definitely exemplifies that again. You, Harry talked about those dozen or so counties that make up the footprint of this region, whether it's in Orange County in Johnson County, even up in places like Vance County, that they're all feeling to. Some affect the economic mo mentum that this broader region has been generating over the past quarter century orm, or thanks to the work of, uh, folks like yourself, Michael and a lot of our local partners around the state, thanks to companies like Bright View again a zoo long as we continue to focus in this region on what are the how do we manage the challenges that are brought about by this, this abundance or growth that we're facing versus scarcity As long as we try to stay on top of those and make sure that this region could still accommodate that influx of business investment and that influx of population, I think we're well poised in this part of North Carolina, and I think broadly across the whole state for continued economic success. All of that to say, though now we don't want to take for granted that companies just because we're bullish on the future, it doesn't mean that we think we can just sit back and let it happen in all, turn out just fine. That is again. A big part of why we're doing these types of round tables is we know, especially in this moment of time. A lot of companies in North Carolina have seen major disruption. They have seen reduced demand. They have seen a change to their business climate that they operate in. So to the extent that our colleagues like Harry, to the extent that our local economic development partners and other stakeholders Extent we can be of help to these businesses that are navigating Cove in 19 until we get to that light at the end of the tunnel. We want to be here as a service as a resource. We want to try to help you as business leaders solve whatever growth challenges we're facing. When this pandemic is over, we're still gonna want to talk to you. It's just unfortunately, maybe a little bit of a different set of circumstances that will all be a little bit more familiar with. But either way, we're here to assist. And we really appreciate that opportunity to get to do that every day. You know, Chris, I think you're you hit on some some things that I'd like Thio Echo one The first job, the first requirement. But economic developers to be optimistic, Um, one, because you're passionate about your community and you see it in its best liked. And for me, I'm optimistic about our region. The research triangle region in north central region, Um, here in North Carolina for for a couple couple points one. Chris, you mentioned this in 100% agree the fundamentals of our region are so strong. Um, it's about again talent. The right talent for for for companies, um, rightly skilled talent for companies. That's number one, Um, and that's so important to who we are to our education. Higher education ecosystem. You know, in our region, we're fortunate to have obviously three tier one research universities NC State Carolina dude. But we're also home to three HBC use in our region. Shaw saying dogs in Central as well as a number of other colleges piece Campbell Uh, we're so fortunate to have all these universities here, as well as an amazing community college system that everyone in North Carolina is able to access. Um, I think those those fundamentals of that higher education ecosystem play such an important role here to help drive our that third point of our fundamentals. The diverse economy that we have. We have great companies like like Mike has described today great startups, great multinationals. Um and that's really important to who we are. Finally, we put a lot about is the quality of life in our community. I think those things those four fundamentals are important. I also think that I said this earlier, but I always think of us as a region of what's next. The idea that we're constantly innovating thinking about what's next. Mike is a great example of how to pivot. Find new solutions not only for his company before our community. Um what what a great what a great example of that type of innovation that really is the hallmark of this region. We're obviously a draw for people. Chris. You mentioned it. Um, this community, this region continues to grow quickly, and those are new people. It's new neighbors, It's new companies. It's new innovation, adding to the already existing companies, the people that are here already. And that's always so important. Finally, I'd say the reason I'm so optimistic and bullish on our community is the story that we've heard today. The story we've heard today is about collaboration. It's not one entity solving a problem or one person, but it's it's It's E d P N C. It's I Yes, it's the community college system. It's local governments. It's our utilities. It's our state government, local governments coming together in a time of need to solve problems. I think that's it. Such a wonderful story, something this region is known for that collaborative spirit. It's so important. And to Chris, to your point, we're optimistic. But we're not Pollyannish. We realize that there's challenges that are facing our community, and that's something that's one of the reasons that were economic developers is we're passionate of our community. We're passionate about supporting our existing companies. And so with that, those are the reasons that I'm certainly optimistic realizing there's challenges. But knowing we've got this amazing array of resource is and partners around us to help solve those problems, I'm gonna turn it over to John Lawyer now. But I'd like to say thank you First Thio each of our Panelists and thanks for the opportunity. Thanks for all those that Listen, I hope that you heard like I did about new Resource is and new ways in which we can We can all rely on the e p N. C. To help support our local economies. And with John, I'll turn it over to you. Thank you, Michael. So, folks, we are a few minutes ahead of the time we allotted. But I would like to thank you all very very much for joining us today. Aziz Michael mentioned. Hopefully, we all walk away, having gained some insight on the value all of our partners offer when we another from the Edie PNC to wake County economic development to businesses like right View Technologies, Aziz Michael said, working together, we can provide some pretty amazing results too close. I'd like to remind our audience that Eddie PNC serves businesses across the spectrum, variety of different industries, all sizes and needs that come our way, as Harry mentioned every day brings us a new challenge. Uh, through the businesses we serve and we take it is our responsibility to get businesses the answers that they need to solve, whatever the challenge might be, We can help you find new opportunities or navigate challenging circumstances on the screen. Here, you can see a list of some of the services that we provide, uh, but to close, maybe it's a bit of a call to action. I'd like to encourage everyone of the call to get to know Harry, I can tell you, without a doubt, you'll be very glad that you did eso let me close hard time today and say once again, thank you very much for joining us