First in Future: Where Emerging Ideas Take Flight
Summary: In every emerging issue lies an opportunity. The Institute for Emerging Issues is here to find North Carolina's opportunities. You can help.
In the spirit of Thanksgiving, for this week’s First in Future we are talking about turkeys. North Carolina is #2 in the nation for turkey production, to the tune of 33 million turkeys a year, yielding about 1.2 billion pounds of meat. It adds up to about a $1 billion a year industry in the state. That is why we are talking to Sandra Garner of Rainbow Meadow Farms in Greene County near Snow Hill. She is a small-scale turkey farmer who comes from a family that’s been farming for 273 years.
NC State strives to think about how students, faculty, and staff can do more to work with the communities that surround us. Early on, NC State had extension offices across the state where people could walk in and get advice on problems—originally agriculture problems. Over time, the university added extension faculty in the different colleges, and then centers and institutes like the Institute for Emerging Issues that look for ways to share knowledge with people well beyond the campus borders. This week’s First in Future guest is Dr. Kwesi Brookins, an Associate Professor of community psychology at NC State. He talks about how universities can work with communities, the projects he has worked on both locally and across the state, and how a kid from Chicago realized he could be a university scholar.
Being a mayor is hard. How do you deal with a bypass that diverts traffic around your city? Will improvements to a struggling part of town affect property values and nudge out low-income people? Small town mayors have to deal with these challenges, so when you want to talk about a pothole, start with a thank you for their time. This week's First in Future guest is Mayor Sherri Allgood, who is the newest mayor for Troy, NC, after replacing a 19-term mayor of 38 years. Listen in as she gives her advice on being a voice for something you care about and believe in. If more of us start to be a voice for what we care about and believe in, then North Carolina will be first in future.
One hundred years ago, on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, President Woodrow Wilson announced the first observance of what has become known as Veteran’s Day, a celebration of the critical role those who have served in our military play in the life of our country. At the Institute for Emerging Issues, we give special thanks for their service and urge you to reach out to the veterans you know to thank them. Every year, about 30,000 military personnel stationed in North Carolina move out of the service and start looking for jobs. Across the US, the total is 200,000. These folks have a remarkable breadth of skills, including a common set of habits that can be helpful in improving the culture of an organization. This week’s First in Future guest is Randy Nelson, a former Navy Lieutenant and an entrepreneur. We talked with him about how he decided to serve in the military, what skills it gave him for later life, the habits of mind an entrepreneur needs, how he is coping with a strange kind of addiction he has, and what it might take for North Carolina to be first in future in convincing more transitioning military personnel to stay or move here.
If you’re any kind of business or policy enthusiast and live in the Carolinas, chances are you’ve watched the Carolina Business Review. It’s been on the air since 1991 and is getting close to 1,500 shows. Each week on the show, there are guests from North and South Carolina talking business, education, or public policy with its host Chris William. Over the past 29 years from his perch at the host’s desk for the Carolina Business Review and his day job with Wells Fargo, Chris has seen explosive growth in the Carolinas. On this week’s episode, we talk to him about getting ready for continued growth, the coming recession, what he’s learned from talking to thousands of successful people and how to improve the quality of our public dialogue.
In 2017 and 2018, the Institute for Emerging Issues spent a lot of time focusing on the economics of early childhood development in North Carolina. The emerging theme of all that work was probably no surprise: it really did seem like, now more than ever, it takes a village to raise a healthy child with providers, politicians, parents, employers, planners, professional development and lots of people all working together. This week’s guests are members of the Inspired Randolph initiative, an effort led by the Randolph Partnership for Children. Their particular focus: rallying more support for infant and toddler care in their county.
In today’s job market, there’s a gap between the number of available jobs and the number of employees with skills for those jobs. It’s what employers call a “skills gap” – and there’s an organization in North Carolina working on bridging that gap. The Capital Area Workforce Development Board helps connect people to training and education so they can get jobs that become careers. Pat Sturdivant is not only the head of this board—she’s also president of the state association of workforce boards. In this week’s episode of First in Future, Pat talks about how workforce boards create a pool of qualified candidates for North Carolina’s growing industries.
The best estimate of the My Future NC Commission for the number of people in North Carolina who started college but then dropped out is 905,000. In many ways, they have the worst of both worlds: they’ve spent money on college and often had to take out loans, but they don’t have the benefit that comes with a degree. Finding those folks and convincing them to come back to school again is a challenge that a lot of people are working on. You’ll hear about efforts at community colleges and public universities, but you might not have heard about the work of Charlotte’s Johnson C. Smith University. Our First in Future guest this week is Dr. Laura Colson McLean, Dean of JCSU Metropolitan College. She works very intentionally with working age adults to get them the skills and education they need to move to the next level in their careers.
The next Emerging Issues Forum, ReCONNECT to Economic Opportunity, is coming up on October 15 in Charlotte. It’s going to be a day focused on the people at the core of our economy—adult workers and their future. We will talk with people who have good ideas for helping them move up and forward. Before we look forward, we think it’s useful to examine our history. This week on First in Future, our guest is Dr. Karl Campbell of Appalachian State University’s History department. He talks to us about our state’s history in segregation, Governor Hodges and Senator Ervin during that time period, and how to look to what our past can tell us about our future. Lastly, he tells us the interesting origin of our state’s many nicknames.
At IEI, we’re getting ready for our next Emerging Issues Forum, ReCONNECT to Economic Opportunity, coming up on October 15 in Charlotte. It’s going to be a day focused on the people at the core of our economy—adult workers. Once they begin their working careers, we tend to turn our attention away. But many of those workers are struggling to advance. On October 15, we’ll talk with people who have good ideas for helping them move up. This week on First in Future, our guest is our very own Policy and Programs Manager Alicia James. As the lead planner for the forum, she’s been thinking about this issue for the past year. She tells us about why it’s important to our state’s future, what Charlotte and other communities are doing to help, and what you’ll learn if you register to attend the forum in October.
The people that keep our society running—electricians, laborers, technicians, and more—are getting older and nearing retirement. It’s a global issue, as dozens of countries around the world report their biggest labor shortages in skilled trades. Wake County is trying to move more people into those jobs. This week on First in Future, we talk with Wake County Commissioner Matt Calabria about the unusual partnership between the county and Wake Technical Community College to help solve the shortage.
Across North Carolina, our 58 community colleges are designed to be within a few minutes’ drive of every person in the state. They have a broad core suite of services: degree programs, technical training, ESL, high school degree completion, and continuing education. They send some people out ready to transfer to four-year schools and accept some people back from four-year schools to get additional skills. Community colleges are a critical part of our state’s retraining challenge. If you’ve been paying attention to the work of the My Future NC Commission, that challenge involves raising up an additional 400,000 adults by 2030 with an education credential beyond high school. That is the kind of challenge Dr. Kandi Deitemeyer, President of Central Piedmont Community College, has been thinking about for most of her adult life. She has worked in community colleges in Florida and Kentucky, and before moving to CPCC, she worked in three smaller community colleges in North Carolina—Davidson, Moore and Pasquotank counties. What do all those places have in common? A responsibility to get people in their area the knowledge and skills they need to succeed.
If you were making a shortlist of family names associated with Charlotte, “Belk” would have to be near the top. Beginning in 1888, the Belk’s started a small retail chain in Monroe that grew bigger and then spread throughout the southeast. John M. Belk once said, “The more you do for mankind, the better you’ll like life. Whether it’s a company or a city or state, you’ve got to leave it better for the next generation.” The Belk family continues to try to find ways to leave it better. Today’s First in Future guest MC Belk Pilon is the President and Board Chair of the John M. Belk Endowment, whose mission is to transform postsecondary educational opportunities to meet North Carolina’s evolving workforce needs. As you listen to her thought process, you can hear the origins of the My Future NC Commission.
As you look around Charlotte, one of the things you’ll notice is how diverse it is. Mecklenburg County is diverse racially, with 51% of its citizens nonwhite. It’s diverse geographically – 57% of its residents were born outside of the state of North Carolina. And 1 in 7 of its residents was born outside of the U.S. Today’s First in Future guest Reinaldo Panico Peres chair of the Centralina Workforce Board was born in Brazil and moved to the Charlotte region when he relocated a Brazilian company there. These days, he assists other international firms locating to the Charlotte region, and he is on a mission to get the Charlotte region workforce to give up its old habits and reinvent itself.
A 2015 report on economic mobility in the U.S. caught Charlotte’s attention. The report looked at the likelihood that someone whose parents’ income ranked in the bottom 20% would grow up to make enough money to be in the top 20% of earners. In Charlotte, there was a 4.8% chance of moving into the top 20% if you were born into the bottom 20%. This made Charlotte 50th out of 50 cities in the report. Today’s First in Future guest is Charlotte mayor Vi Lyles. She talks about the report, how the city responded to it, and how other places in the state might approach similar issues. We also hear about millennials, potholes, and how Charlotte is dealing with being the fastest-growing city in the country.