Economic development in the region and where it’s going from here was the topic discussed by a panel of economic development professionals at a luncheon held by the Realtors Commercial Alliance of Greensboro in the Greensboro Regional Realtors Association office on Oak Branch Drive on Tuesday, June 25.

Robbie Perkins of NAI Piedmont Triad moderated the panel made up of folks from Alamance County, Davidson County, Greensboro, Randolph County, Rockingham County, Surry County, Burlington, High Point, Winston-Salem and Greensboro.

Perkins started off by talking about a map he handed out which showed that 30 percent of the workforce in the area commutes from one part of the region to another for work.  Guilford County according to the map has over 75,000 people commuting into the county for work from adjacent counties.

Perkins said that this proved the region was united and quoting High Point University President Nido Qubein said, “A win for one is a win for all.”

Mac Williams of the Alamance County Chamber of Commerce said he sold his county not just based on the Triad to the west but the Research Triangle to the east.  Williams said he had a map of Dallas that he put over the region and the city fit right between the Raleigh-Durham International Airport and the Piedmont Triad International Airport.  He said, “Between the airports are 2.5 million people.”

Williams said he told people, “You’re coming to a really big city, it just doesn’t look like it.”  In keeping with that analogy he said that I-40/I-85 was the main street for the region.

Peter Bishop of Burlington followed up on that saying that they had to do a better job of telling the story of the region.  He said, “We have amazing people here and amazing places we just need to get that story out.”

Perkins talked about how I-73 had made parts of Rockingham County only ten minutes away from the airport.

Along with transportation there was a lot of talk about the workforce in the area and the need for workforce development to train workers for advance manufacturing jobs.

Dave Ramsey of the Greensboro Chamber of Commerce talked about the Greensboro Randolph Megasite and the tremendous regional cooperation that it took to make that viable.

He said, “I think it’s the only megasite in the country and certainly in the southeast that has access to a workforce.”

Todd Tucker of Surry County talked about some of the differences in the smaller more rural counties and said that when they got a new Chick-fil-A in Elkin they knew they were doing something right.