Raleigh, NC – January 14, 2009 – As I stated at our 25th Annual Triangle Commercial Real Estate Conference, I believe there are some critical areas that must be addressed if we are going to have continued growth and maintain a competitive edge in the Raleigh/Durham Region. I’m sharing one of my recommendations here and will have others in future blog posts.
The North Carolina Constitution (Article 9) says The General Assembly shall provide that the benefits of The University of North Carolina and other public institutions of higher education, as far as practicable, be extended to the people of the State free of expense.
There’s only one way to do that. It’s to give our flagship schools in North Carolina the funding they need to compete as world-class institutions so they can continue performing as our economic engine.
Our flagship universities are not simply shinier versions of our other state-supported schools. They are not simply the biggest, the oldest, with nationally known athletic programs. They are not simply selective in their admissions.
If we keep funding them on par with the other schools in the UNC system, we are in danger of weakening our flagship universities. We cannot allow that to happen. Sometimes we must make hard decisions to protect the people and the economy of North Carolina.
Our major universities repay our investment in them many times over by acting as drivers of economic growth. If you doubt it for a second, consider this:
- Less than 10 miles from this building is the headquarters of the largest privately owned software company in the world, with revenues of over $2 billion dollars and more than 11,000 employees. It was founded by a former NC State faculty member based on work done at NC State. It is called SAS.
- Also less than 10 miles from here, stands the brand-new headquarters of the world’s largest clinical research organization, also with revenues topping $2 billion dollars and with more than 21,000 employees. It was founded by a former UNC-Chapel Hill professor. It is called Quintiles.
- That’s software and biostatistics. How about technology? Well who here isn’t amazed at what’s happening with LED lighting? You can thank researchers at NC State for much of that work. And you can thank companies like Cree—founded by former NC State faculty—for bringing that efficient, green technology to the market. With revenue of $500 million and 3,500 employees, Cree just announced they would add another 500 jobs over three years.
These are only two of our outstanding universities which showcase our intellectual power to the nation and the world. They demonstrate our state’s commitment not only to higher education, but to innovation, and to getting results in the classroom, the laboratory, and the field. These universities need additional funding to compete for top professors, top students and top research projects.
Let’s make sure we give these major, flagship universities the special consideration and funding they need to continue to compete in the world today.
Steve Stroud, SIOR, Chairman of NAI Carolantic Realty