During the Google Demo Days competition, Jimmy Goodmon of CBC New Media shared the story of how his father, Jim Goodmon, had a vision of uniting the several communities of the Triangle (Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill) with a centrally located, massive professional sports complex that would capture the two franchise expansions in the NFL and NBA at the time. Goodmon’s argument was that the combined viewership of the MSA represented by these cities was equivalent to that of Charlotte… but that we had to pull together. Ultimately, the three towns and their respective governments couldn’t quite get together the votes to pass this vision, and the idea subsided.
I’m as passionate about Durham as you’re going to find… to the point where my wife and friends sometimes call me “Captain Durham.” Man, I love the Bull City. But when I originally wrote this email to then-Governor Bev Purdue about the Entrepreneurial Hub of the South, I bent my vision towards a larger footprint.
I’d like to take another step in that direction. Branding has such a powerful effect on the formation of ideas and the unification of effort among individuals and groups. The Research Triangle Park was a brilliant strategic deployment of public-private endeavor in the back half of the last century. It is thought of, however, as that work place in the middle of the three counties. Still great. Still visionary. But it represents a bit of a fourth locale, not an amalgamation of the three locales that contribute to it.
There is robust entrepreneurial energy, programs, incubators and efforts happening throughout the triangle and enmeshed in the four major universities (UNC, Duke, State and Central). Another Goodmon (Michael), and his chief strategist Adam Klein, are exploding onto the national scene with the American Underground and AU@Main brands (which has attracted the attention of Google, who has officially named it as a Google Tech Campus). Innovators like Christopher Gergen are spawning concepts like HQ Raleigh, Bull City Forward and Think House. Incubators like the Start Up Factory (located in the American Underground) are churning out promising new companies under the empowering guidance of veterans like Dave Neal and Chris Heivly. The energy is off the charts and the sheer power of the job creation and innovation is humming. You can literally feel it.
I think it’s time we unite our communities in the way that Goodmon originally envisioned with sports, and with the power that the Research Triangle Park brought to NC to attract high paying technology jobs.
As we continue to frame the Entrepreneurial Hub of the South, let’s brand this in a way that is telling of what we do, reflective of our roots, and unifying in the way that allows for each community to thrive in place, but that unites us all.
As the first brainstorming of the brand, I propose “Silicon Acres” playing off the Silicon Valley metonym. It provides reference to our agricultural roots (of which I am proud). It also avoids the trappings of locking into a single brand (Bull City, Oak City, etc.). All of us can be fiercely proud of our own cities, while unifying around a brand that gives us a sum that is greater than its parts.
I’ll toss out a few more:
- Silicon Triangle
- Tech Triangle
- Tri-tech Area
For a bit more depth, here are links to the naming of Silicon Valley and to other locales playing off of this metonym.