San Marcos Area Chamber of Commerce travels to North Carolina for InterCity trip
Last week 40 community leaders from San Marcos, Kyle, Buda, and Lockhart traveled to North Carolina for the third annual InterCity Visit presented by Texas State University. This group made up of key community leaders and business professionals traveled to the Research Triangle, visiting Chapel Hill, Durham, and Raleigh to study the area's successes and challenges in the hopes of further enhancing San Marcos and our region.
We started off hearing from a group of North Carolina leaders on how they worked with residents to create a community-wide goal to solve local problems. The group landed on “three big bold ideas.” These ideas focus on creating more affordable housing, increasing all student performance to close the achievement gap, and lastly, accelerating innovation and workforce development. We then heard from the Commission Director for Orange County Arts on how the arts have a significant economic impact and even bring in more dollars than sports for Chapel Hill and Orange County, N.C. We also had an opportunity to hear from the Mayor of Chapel Hill and the University of North Carolina about how the two work together for a stronger community. We checked out Launch Chapel Hill which was founded to provide a startup accelerator, co-working space, and other resources for businesses. Finally, we ended our first day learning how community leaders worked cohesively to create and develop the brand of the Research Triangle.
On our second day we traveled to Durham, where we learned about the transformation of their downtown, from the loss of industries like tobacco, textiles, farming, and furniture to their move to a tech hub for companies like Google, Get Spiffy, Validic, and many more. We heard from the former mayor on how it takes vision and leadership to rebuild downtown. The City of Durham, Duke University, and Durham Public Schools talked about collaboration and working together to solve problems for the greater good of the city and its residents when it comes to building a strong foundation for education.
On our third and final day, we heard from Wake County Economic Development on why Wake County is such an attractive palace for companies to grow and succeed in. We then ended our trip with a tour of the Centennial Campus at North Carolina State University.
Throughout our trip, we began to pick up on a couple of common themes — first, collaboration. Leaders in the Research Triangle believe they are successful due to their willingness to openly talk and work with leaders in the region for the betterment of the Triangle. Second, vision. Each speaker from Chapel Hill, Durham, to Raleigh all talked about being bold and having a vision that looks beyond today and into the future.
Over the next few months, the Chamber will be convening with groups from across the region to talk in-depth about things we learned from our trip and how we can implement new ideas for a better region. I know our community is stronger when we learn from one another and our peers across the country. We're excited to see San Marcos change and grow as we implement these new ideas.