As businesses and communities plan for the future, they need to reinvent the processes that will make them competitive, a top executive with Duke Energy said Tuesday at the fifth annual UNCG Business Summit. James L. “Jim” Turner, who is president and CEO of Duke Energy’s franchised energy and gas business, said Greensboro and its two state campuses are doing that in ways that will pay off in the future.
“I love to visit this city because it’s fun to see a city and region that is working so hard and so constructively to be able to reinvent and expand its definition of itself and the economy that supports this area,” said Turner. “Frankly, I think the Triad is doing that as well as any other region.”
He noted that in the area, as well as elsewhere in the country, partnerships between business, government and institutions of higher education are a necessity. He said that the Joint School of Nanoscience and Nanoengineering (JSNN) which is being created by UNCG and NC A&T State University is one of the best examples he has seen.
“When I see collaboration like this with UNCG and A&T, and that business, community and the governmental system are working so well, it tells me that you all get what it means to compete. In this new reality, when I see you working together with such intentionality on partnering, you will have a clear strategic advantage over communities that have not.”
After the keynote address, Chancellor Linda P. Brady and NC A&T Chancellor Harold L. Martin Sr. (in visual) spoke about the JSNN, in a roundtable moderated by Douglas Copeland of The Business Journal.
Martin noted that with the joint school, “We anticipate we will make a tremendous difference in enhancing the economic competitiveness of this community.” He said nanoscience/nanoengineering is an area where there are emerging opportunities, globally.
Brady noted additional collaborations, such as Gateway University Research Park’s collaboration with the Piedmont Triad Research Park and our university’s engagement with Wake Forest University and its medical center. She also acknowledged the chancellors’ predecessors who “began to think about collaboration long before nanoscience was on the agenda.” She cited the Joint Master of Social Work program, saying “We’re building on a history of collaboration between the two institutions.”
She said JSNN provides an opportunity for “an incredible economic impact – that will provide tremendous opportunities for us to do outreach and to engage the community colleges and K-12 in developing students who are really excited about future careers in this area.”
JSNN founding dean Dr. James Ryan and the director of the Gateway University Research Park, John Merrill, also spoke.
The joint school building is under construction on Lee Street at the South Campus of the Gateway University Research Park and will be operational in January 2012. This fall, it admitted 18 graduate students, including 17 in the PhD programs and one in the master’s program. It has 11 faculty members, with others to be hired, and will have an operating budget of $6.9 million when fully funded.
The Business Summit is designed to bring the Triad’s business and higher education leaders together each year. This year’s event drew about 200 people.