Holding on

When I ask how she is doing, my 89-year-old mother always says that she is “holding on.” This response has not changed for decades.

As we have come through the last natural disaster, weathered the statewide economic recession and struggled with the day-to-day demands of providing education and service, it is tempting for me to say to others that we are “holding on.” This response, however, is less than satisfying for me.

“Holding on” seems to signal that there is nothing else that can be done. This is a maintenance of the status quo response.  OK, but not good enough.

Our real world asks more from us. How can we serve the people of eastern North Carolina in the best way that we can imagine? How can we better serve our families? What can we do to improve personally? Holding on is not the best approach, I would say.

The swirling rhetoric at the national level has been informative. Job, jobs, jobs is the chant. What sort of jobs shall we create? It is the creating – the inventing – of new products and processes that has made our economy strong. The inventiveness of a society seems to be the one seminal index of a thriving national economy.

The Triangle Business Journal just published the 2011 Best Places to Work. The companies are all highly successful and encompass health care, high technology and high-end service industries (see list below).

In reflection, yesterday, I reviewed a report from the Fiscal Research Division of the North Carolina General Assembly. The report indicated that higher education is responsible for 18 percent of the state budget, amounting to just over $3.5 billion.

(click to enlarge)

Having endured painful cuts at our institution of advanced learning, I wondered if this investment by our state is sufficient or may fall short of the need. I presume that if we are to be successful in the future, it will require that we have the smartest and most highly educated individuals here in North Carolina. We should have already recognized that we need to be competitive – not just with other states but on the world stage.

If I believed that eastern North Carolina were already fully provisioned with all of the highly skilled workers that will allow us to compete with just the rest of the state, I’d be very satisfied. But it’s clear we have much work to do to continue to educate a competitive workforce in our region.

So, for me, it’s not about “holding on;” it’s more like “keep driving forward.”

Have a great, and safe, Labor Day!


2011 Best Places to Work (Triangle Business Journal)

Giant companies category (1,000+ employees)
Duke Raleigh Hospital, Raleigh
NetApp, Research Triangle Park
Rex Healthcare, Raleigh
Time Warner Cable , Morrisville
WakeMed Health & Hospitals, Raleigh

Large companies category (151- 999 employees)
Accenture, Raleigh
ChannelAdvisor, Morrisville
EMC Corporation, Durham
SciQuest Inc., Cary
Ernst & Young LLP, Raleigh
Eye Care Associates, Raleigh
Nationwide Insurance, Raleigh
Red Hat, Raleigh
Railinc Corp., Cary
Workplace Options, Raleigh

Medium companies category (51-150 employees)
Bronto Software, Durham
Bulk TV and Internet, Raleigh
Camden, Raleigh/Apex/Morrisville/Chapel Hill
Cherry, Bekaert & Holland LLP, Raleigh
Clark Nexsen Architecture & Engineering, Raleigh
Clarkston Consulting, Durham
Highmark Companies, Cary
SchoolDude.com, Cary
ShareFile, Raleigh
TowerCo, Cary

Small companies category (fewer than 50 employees)
Alston & Bird LLP , Durham
BioAgilytix Labs, Research Triangle Park
The e-NC Authority, Raleigh
Evoapp Inc., Durham
FGI Research, Chapel Hill
HireNetworks, Raleigh
Langdon & Co., Garner
MMI Public Relations, Cary
Relevance Inc., Durham
The Select Group, Raleigh

One comment

  • Dean,

    I apologize that I have not responded to your earlier blogs, but I appreciate how long a pause there is between fellows who are busy on our own projects.

    I so agree with y’all that now is the time to walk forward with confidence. In a stock market parallel view: invest now, at least a little bit every day, one step at a time.

    I support your view to substantially increase BSOM enrollment by 2015. When I was there (Class of ’95) we were three to a locker and were mildly grumbling. We commuted; we came in on weekends to better understand our Gross Anatomy cadavers; we answered barely audible pager messages to come long distances to admit patients when we were not even on call.

    We were medical students.


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