First in Future: Where Emerging Ideas Take Flight is a podcast of the Institute for Emerging Issues at NC State University that connects you with people thinking big thoughts about the future of North Carolina. Each week, we talk with business leaders, elected officials, researchers, people working bottom up and top down to make North Carolina great. We hope you’ll use their thinking to jumpstart your thinking about our state – where it is and where we might go together. At the end of each episode, our guests will identify the biggest issues they think our state is facing; they recommend books; they’ll identify up-and-coming leaders; and they’ll answer at least one completely off-the-wall question as they tackle the (soon-to-be) famous IEI Five!
Summary: What does one do after leaving the job of top salesperson for an entire state? For Sharon Decker, that doesn’t mean retirement. After serving as Secretary of Commerce under Gov. Pat McCrory, Decker moved back to rural North Carolina, where she is helping build a business and rebuild a region’s hopes and dreams. As COO of the Tryon International Equestrian Center, Decker is building a dream that could someday be comparable to golf, or to NASCAR. This week, Decker discusses her career change and shares her book recommendations, and we get the first answer on this podcast to the age-old question, If you were a horse, what kind would you be?
Summary: One of the signs of a vibrant economy is one in which there’s a constant churn of “creative destruction”: A mix of one group of companies going out of business being replaced by new companies. Statewide, there’s a patchwork of incubators to nurture these new companies; these shared spaces bring together a variety of young firms into a common space to help fledgling companies share costs and benefit from the energy that comes from being around other startups. This week, we’re joined by Sean Ahlum, director at one such incubator, tekMountain in Wilmington, to talk about Wilmington, surfing, breweries, utility infielders, equity crowdfunding and innovation ecosystems.
Summary: At IEI, we’re committed to North Carolina’s future, dedicating our time, talent and energy to identify and address the state’s most pressing issues. We start to determine the issues we work on by listening, by giving the problem a name; then, we frame the issue through research and collaboration. If we do our work right, good things happen, and the state and its people make some progress. This week, we sit down with Donnie Charleston, IEI Economic Policy Manager, to talk about finding common ground, talent development and why a generation of Batmans would benefit us all.
Summary: In North Carolina, a remarkable coalition of organizations has gathered to distill the best ideas from across the early childhood community to help shape our state’s future. This week, we’re joined by Tracy Zimmerman, executive director of the North Carolina Early Childhood Foundation, to talk about the importance of collaboration in investing in early years, the draw of North Carolina, and the strongest – and most flawed – superhero out there.
Summary: In every nook of every zip code of our state exists some part of our faith community. As of last year, there were 8,961 religious institutions in North Carolina, and we’ve seen the incredible volunteer power that the faith community has in moving projects forward. This week, we talk with Bishop Hope Morgan Ward, Resident Bishop of The United Methodist Church, NC Conference, about Congregations for Children and how the faith community can play an appropriate role in making sure we are inventing our own future.
Summary: Investing in early childhood education is a longterm proposition, and it takes conviction to be able to wait. This week, we check in with Jim Hansen, Regional President of PNC Bank, which is a making a 12-year, $350 million investment in early childhood. Also: observations on batting averages, Blowing Rock and “playing offense” with our state’s future.
Summary: Two leaders of the General Assembly’s early childhood caucus talk about why they care about the issue, preparing for automation, Winston Churchill, and why grandchildren might just be the state’s perfect talent recruitment tool.