Packed House and High Energy at the RTCC Annual Meeting

By Ed White, CEO & Board Chair, Field2Base;
Board Chair, Research Triangle Cleantech Cluster

You know you’ve got people’s rapt attention when a slide is so compelling that several audience members whipped out their cell phones and snapped a photo. That happened at today’s annual meeting when featured speaker Simon Hansen, Director of Regions with C40 Cities showed a slide that compared Atlanta and Barcelona.

There, for all to see, was a visual comparing the two cities of comparable size and populations by land area.  Barcelona had those people on less than a 10th of the land that sprawling Atlanta uses. The result is Barcelona emits less than 10 percent of the emissions that Atlanta does.

Simon called it being “compact, connected and coordinated.”

C40 Cities began more than decade ago with 40 cities and has grown to 86 cities worldwide dedicated to the “green growth pathway.” The member cities share best practices and set audacious but realistic goals for going green. And they do this publicly and openly. Most of the world’s people now live in cities, and cities account for 85 percent of the global GDP.

When we announced that Simon was to be our guest speaker at the RTCC annual meeting, we had no problem filling the room. About 170 people representing 100 organizations attended.                                                       

RTCC members rely on collaboration with each other, even with competitors, for the mutual benefit of all. So there were nods of agreement when Simon shared what various cities have done, and that those who are first to try something then bring other cities along more quickly.  For a closer look check out C40’s report Power Climate Change: Cities and Global Changemakers.    

But this isn’t without frustration. Simon noted that too often, the public sector recognizes a problem and determines what the solution should be before turning to the private sector to implement the solution.  How much better and quicker the outcome would be, he said, if government turned to the private sector as soon as a problem is recognized. Then, together, the best solution can be found.

Focus on the Win-Win 

An annual meeting is when we take stock of the organization, and as was reported today, at only 4 years of age, RTCC is going gangbusters.  In 2015, RTCC launched a metrics dashboard to track the impact of their work.  Since 2009, cleantech has made an impact on the region, representing 10,700 jobs and $1.3 billion in investment from announced projects. Some of the highlights reported today are:

  • Doubled the membership to 52 members – and we plan to double that within a year!
  • Restructured membership levels to appeal to a wider array of organizations 

We created a two-year strategic plan based on a four-part strategy of:

  • Business Growth and Marketing
  • Community & Industry Engagement
  • Talent Attraction & Development
  • Membership Development

We continue to build the Research Triangle brand as a global cleantech hub. This past year, we hosted five international delegations with Nigeria, Spain, Osaka, Milan, and China. We are uniquely positioned as only the second US member of the International Cleantech Network, a global consortium of regions, with strengths in cleantech, and through this network, we continue to provide members with access to global market opportunities. 

This year we will continue to work with partners to promote investment in the region and promote the state as a leader in energy and the region as a leader in cleantech. 

We will build upon our work with Wake County Economic Development to develop a Foreign Direct Investment strategy and marketing collateral. 

We will travel to Lyon, France, in March to meet with other cleantech regions from the International Cleantech Network and we invite you to join us.

If you’re a member, get involved. If you aren’t a member, what are you waiting for? We’re only getting better.

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