On Jan. 25, Provost Joan Lorden appeared on Bloomberg News' live State of the Economy special report with host Trish Regan. The show was part of all-day coverage of a visit by U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner. The segment with Lorden also included business leaders Mark Pringle, director of operations for Siemens Energy -- which is thriving and has announced a $350 million expansion in Charlotte -- and Bruton Smith, automotive mogul who owns motor speedways and automobile retailers nationwide.
They talked about the state of the economy in Charlotte and nationally, using Charlotte as a micrcosm of the United States overall. North Carolina is still mired with 9.9 percent unemployment -- worse than the national average of 8.5 percent but better than some states. One of the key issues of the show was the prospects for manufacturing in Charlotte and North Carolina.
So, why invite an "academic" to a conversation about manufacturing? Here's why:
UNC Charlotte is North Carolina's urban research university. We're committed to research and development that helps solve the challeneges facing Charlotte as an urban city. One challenge is improving the level of employment, which is partly tied, long-term, to the condition of local and regional manufacturing. UNC Charlotte also has a bias for applied research -- research in which we partner in some way with businesses, industry and related organizations. That research, whatever it may be, will be linked toward refining ideas, and eventually commercializing technology and products that may be made and sold in this region. In many cases that means jobs -- not always directly, but eventually. That's one way UNC Charlotte acts as a vital cog in the economic development chain. And by affecting the local and regional economy, we augment our urban research on social and cultural issues.
UNC Charlotte, like leading businesses and non-profits, is a key cultivator of this region's quality of life. And lest we forget, we educate the workforce that will manage and lead the economy, in sectors as diverse as high-tech precision manufacturing, financial services, energy production and the creative class.
When you watch the clip below, remember, there's a lot more there than meets the eye. One brief appearance is part of a larger whole. Step by step, through TV interviews, campus visits by dignitaries, community volunteership projects, research in league with local organizations, interactions with business leaders, UNC Charlotte is helping make life better for all of us; that's our mission and we're sticking to it.