UNC Greensboro’s Bryan School of Business and Economics partnered with the publication Business North Carolina to host the 2020 North Carolina Economic Forecast Roundtable on Friday, Jan. 10, on UNCG’s campus.
Around 60 people attended the event to hear various industry leaders provide their unique perspectives and predictions for North Carolina’s economy in 2020 and beyond. In attendance were Chancellor Gilliam, other university and community leaders, and several state legislators including Sen. Michael Garrett (Guilford); Rep. Jon Hardister (Guilford); Rep. Pat Hurley (Randolph); Rep. Allen McNeill (Randolph); Rep. Amos Quick III (Guilford); and Rep. Stephen Ross (Alamance).
Panelists included Dean McRae C. Banks of the Bryan School; District Director of the U.S. Small Business Administration Thomas A. Stith; Regional President and Executive Vice President of First Bank Adam Currie; Partner and CPA of Bernard Robinson & Company Freddy H. Robinson; President of N.C. Railroad Company Scott Saylor; and President and CEO of Piedmont Triad Partnership Stan Kelly. Business North Carolina publisher Ben Kinney was the moderator.
What will North Carolina’s economy be like in 2020? Where will growth come from? How can companies best take advantage of what is in store? These were some of the questions posed by Kinney.
Overall, the panelists had a positive forecast for the future of North Carolina’s economy.
They spoke about how small towns and businesses are thriving, more businesses are relocating to the Triad, and how this is a great time to start a business.
When asked what the economy needs to succeed, the panelists emphasized the need to recruit, train, and retain a skilled workforce.
In response, Dean Banks described the need to focus on advanced skills to prepare for opportunities of the future. As an example, he brought up recruiting cybersecurity leader Dr. Gurpreet Dhillon to become the head of UNCG’s Dept. of Information and Supply Chain Management and then being motivated to build a cybersecurity program because of that event.
“Businesses in this area want to hire as many graduates as possible,” he said. “One of the issues is if there are not enough people educated to provide that cybersecurity assistance to organizations … That’s part of what UNCG is trying to do – look at what the needs of businesses are and try to develop programs to satisfy those needs.”
In agreeance, Stan Kelly reinforced the need for talent to ensure the success of the economy.
“Workforce is the most critical success factor, enabler, and challenge when we talk to new companies finding their way here and existing companies.”
He pointed out the need to increase the number of skilled workers by increasing the number of people going to college and then retaining that workforce.
“For students who go to UNCG or another university, we need to work on keeping them in our region. In my mind, our success will be very aligned with our ability to have the right workforce come out of higher education.”
A transcription of this discussion will be published in the February issue of Business North Carolina. A recording of the discussion can be found on Business North Carolina’s Facebook page.
Story by Alexandra McQueen, University Communications
Photography by Martin W. Kane, University Communications