Article by Mary McLean
“We have an opportunity here in Greensboro. We are a global community whether we like to think about it or not.” So began NC A&T Vice Chancellor Barry Burk’s introductory remarks during the Global Opportunities Summit on the morning of Thursday, August, 22nd. Beginning at 8am, at the Joint School of Nanoscience and Nanoengineering, the GO Summit brought together globally minded leaders of the Triad, including educators, business leaders, and government officials for a complex discussion on the area’s global future.
Hot topics at the summit included the current state of Greensboro’s global market and future steps necessary to further the area’s international impact. There to develop and expand on these ideas were a total of twenty six speakers and panelists. These influential members of the community included UNCG Chancellor Linda P. Brady, who gave opening remarks referencing UNCG as an engaged global community, James H. Trogdon III, Chief Deputy Secretary of Operations of the North Carolina Department of Transportation, who encouraged companies to integrate their business globally, and John Ryan, President of the Center for Creative Leadership, who discussed the necessity of building international, boundary spanning networks built on trust and communication.
Many of the foundations of this international network have already been established by schools and universities that exist within the Triad. Bryan Toney, Director of the NC Entrepreneurship Center at UNCG, emphasized the fact that “In Greensboro alone we have 7 higher education institutions” and that these establishments contain “untapped resources” through programs, faculty, and internationally connected students. North Carolina Department of Commerce Assistant Secretary of International Recruitment Jean Davis further highlighted the global renown of North Carolina’s universities, including UNCG, NCA&T, Elon, and Greensboro College. She explained that the network of alumni stemming from these institutions has provided a crucial jumping off point for global relations.
While many of the speakers offered up a hopeful picture for the future of the Piedmont Triad, citing the fact that the Greensboro-High Point area ranks fifth in percentage of GDP from exports, there were still those that had their doubts. Allen Gant, CEO of Glen Raven, emphasized the idea of innovation in order to survive and bluntly stated that “If North Carolina doesn’t have an environment geared towards competitiveness, we have failed.”
In order to foster this globally competitive environment in the Triad, some are looking to the proposed Global Opportunities Center, which was presented at the very end of the summit by Bryan Toney and Ed Kitchen, VP and COO of the Joseph M. Bryan Foundation. The GO Center would seek to “stimulate global entrepreneurship in the region” by addressing three separate questions simultaneously: what do local businesses need, what do international companies need, and what do students need? If the proposed collaboration is successful, it could mean big changes in the way the Greensboro-High Point area does global business and education.
The Global Opportunities Summit demonstrated a willingness to innovate and meet these future changes head-on by incorporating technology and social media into the presentations. Emcee Cris Mulder, Deputy Secretary of Communications for the NCDOT, encouraged attendees to answer surveys through text messages, send out tweets using #GOsummit, and join the Global Opportunities Summit Linkedin group.
The GO Summit provided a much needed glimpse into the future of the Triad, bringing together leaders who can further develop and advance new ideas. As Jean Davis stated at the beginning of her speech: “The reality of our world today is that we live in a global market. We need to adapt to globalization and embrace it for its advantages.” The Global Opportunities Summit was a stride forward on that path.
Article and photography by Mary McLean
Article author Mary McLean is a Media and Communication Intern with the UNCG Office of Research and Economic Development. She researches and writes articles about the on and off campus impacts of UNCG research. Mary is a sophomore at UNCG, majoring in English and minoring in Media Studies. Her interest in journalism and communication led her to her current position.