April 2013

April 2013

Joe DeSimone has published over 290 scientific articles and he has over 130 patents issued in his name, with another 80 pending. If Joe speaks, many listen. This was certainly true when, as the closing speaker for the North Carolina Science Summit, Joe daringly asked, “Is North Carolina losing its mojo?”

Much of the data shared throughout the day supported an affirmative answer to Joe’s provocative question. On many important innovation indicators, North Carolina lags in taking action.

Joe’s question continues to churn in my head.  

To give the question due consideration, we need to define “mojo.” According to one author, “(m)ojo is the moment when we do something that’s purposeful, powerful, and positive and the rest of the world recognizes it.”  Another claims, mojo “is ability to bounce back from a debilitating trauma and negative attitude.”  Either way, losing our innovation mojo means losing our sense of North Carolina as a leading state.

We have a lot of work to do. About that, Joe is correct.  As other states and nations ramp up their innovation efforts, they are becoming more competitive. This is certainly true on the subject of manufacturing competitiveness. During the Science Summit, Craig Giffi, Vice Chairman and U.S. Consumer & Industrial Products Industry Leader at Deloitte LLP, gave a sneak peak of results of a global report on manufacturing growth that is set to be released on May 2, 2013.   

nc community forums

IEI’s upcoming Community Forums@Manufacturing Works: Creating North Carolina’s Next Generation Jobs, asks each county to consider what role it plays in establishing our state as a leader in manufacturing – again. These community forums will both test and refute the sense that we’ve lost our mojo. I am confident they will serve as spaces where we begin to get back what we may have lost. Each county forum will highlight innovative, local manufacturing businesses and the unique ways in which they challenge our educational system to help develop the skills needed for the jobs they create.  


In partnership with the NC Association of County Commissioners, NC Cooperative Extension and the NC Community College System, we are excited to launch these conversations in each of North Carolina’s 100 counties. They will bring together manufacturers, educators, city and county officials and other community leaders to focus specifically on better aligning the needs of manufacturing businesses with their educational systems. Better alignment will result, undoubtedly, in increased educational attainment, jobs, and, ultimately, economic rewards for your community. Click here to see when and where your Community Forum will take place. Additional sites are currently being planned, so stay tuned. If you don’t see your county, please call or email me. We need every county in the state to participate in this conversation. 

It is time to reclaim our mojo. 



north carolina science summit

The Community Forums are just one way of highlighting a particular skill set for a sector that increases economic growth.

The 2013 Science Summit, a signature event of the annual North Carolina Science Festival, provided a platform for science and technology leaders to focus the attention of business and policy makers on the importance of strengthening science and technology capacities across the state and, in turn, improving North Carolina’s overall economic development. Summit participants worked across sectors to generate ideas that offer innovative solutions and concrete actions to meet North Carolina’s future science and technology needs, and identified five top ideas to bolster science and technology in our state. You can view them here.


Next month, the Pathways Partnership, which planned the Summit, will meet to discuss strategies for moving these ideas forward. Regional action planning outputs developed at the Summit will feed into the NC Science Festival post-summit community events that will take place later this summer.  

These conversations – and resulting actions – go far beyond the participants in the room, both at the Science Summit and at each Community Forum. Visit the Emerging Issues Commons to add your ideas on how North Carolina can use its mojo to improve our state’s economic benefit. 


Beginning in May, IEI will launch issue-specific newsletters. Nearly 700 of you have already signed up. If you would like to receive these newsletters, please update your contact information here and be sure to select what issue area(s) you would like to receive.

Congratulations to IEI’s Health Policy Manager, Sarah Langer, for winning one of the Triangle Business Journal’s 40 Under 40 Awards! Click here to learn more.

financing the future: debating state tax reform for north carolina

North Carolina’s economy and population have changed dramatically over the last century, yet our financial systems have remained relatively stagnant. As our population and infrastructure needs change, so too, must our tax system. Tax reform is a complicated and often contentious issue, and North Carolina has once again begun weighing the prospect of reforming the State’s tax system. The Institute for Emerging Issues, in partnership with the Civitas Institute and the NC Budget and Tax Center, will host a debate on this issue, featuring national experts on the subject of taxation and finance.

Join us May 7 for “Financing the Future: Debating State Tax Reform for North Carolina.” Click here for more details and to register for this event.





North Carolina ranks 45 out of the 50 states in the number of dentists per capita, and access to care is even more limited in rural areas. Research increasingly links oral health to overall health. It has been noted that initial signs of diabetes, cancer, pregnancy, immune disorders, hormone imbalances and drug issues show up in the gums, teeth and tongue—often before a patient knows anything is wrong.

IEI is partnering with Blue Cross Blue Shield and Bull City Forward to present the Oral Health Initiative, a competition to improve oral health in North Carolina.


We are seeking solutions that target three areas:

  • Increasing Access to Sealants – Ideas or methods to increase access to dental sealants for children at risk of dental disease.
  • Reducing Dental ER Visits – Ideas or methods to reduce dental ER visits. For many low-income children, emergency rooms are the first and last resort because their families struggle to find a dentist who either practices in their area or accepts Medicaid patients.
  • Improving Preschool Oral Health Education – Ideas or methods to improve preschool education for better oral health and the importance of oral health to overall health.

Winners will receive $20,000 to implement their program. Click here for more information or to enter the competition.

Hunt Library Dedication

Weren’t able to attend the Hunt Library Dedication? View the slideshow below to catch highlights from the event.