Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Tooth Fairies, Wolf Beer and Derivatives Trading…Just Another Night at the E-Center

Jonathan Rowe and his dedicated crew have done it again. Six young and innovative companies made their pitch at the UNCW Entrepreneurship Center’s latest Rocket Pitch Event. Attendees were captured by the incredible products and business plans presented as they munched on goodies and sipped on locally brewed beer. Ranging from high-tech derivative trading to contract micro-beer brewing to tooth fairy entertainment for children, these entrepreneurs are tapping into real markets with real demand.

Over 26 companies have presented since the Rocket Pitch Event program began. As an individual who’s career revolves around economic development and entrepreneurship, these events are always especially exciting. Each business represented an aspect of the type of knowledge-sector companies Cape Fear Future is trying to attract, grow, and retain. The creativity, hard work, and professionalism of these start-ups was inspiring. It was evident that each was born of ingenuity and courage.

The Entrepreneurship Center is a true asset to this region- it is impressive that this Center is able to bring together angel investors, entrepreneurs, media, business owners, students, and many more in the same room. These events are just one of many offered by the E-Center in helping regional business growth, and I am certain it will continue to be an archetypal platform for other entrepreneurial programs across the state.

For details on the featured companies and to access their individual websites please visit:

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Red Light - Green Light

How to Play:

The player designated as "It" stands a good distance away from the rest of the kids, with his back turned to the rest of the group. He calls, "Green Light!" and the children run toward him until he says, "Red Light.” "It" turns around and tries to catch anyone who is moving. If he sees someone moving, that person must go back to the start line. Play continues until someone runs up and tags “It”.

I have fond memories of playing this game on hot summer days with my siblings…back then it didn’t mean much more to me than just being a game. But now I see that it teaches children the significance of simple traffic signals and how to obey the rules while having fun. But those who crafted Senate Bill 187 have apparently forgotten this simple game and the lessons it taught.

Senate Bill 187 is an act to make the use of photographic camera systems to regulate traffic unlawful. If passed, this bill will eliminate the use of all red light cameras in the state. It has already been passed through the Senate Transportation Committee and will be up for vote in the House in the coming weeks.

There are two glaring reasons Cape Fear Future opposes this bill. Currently, the fine money generated from the red light camera system goes toward camera operational costs and NC schools. At our last Commission meeting, superintendents from the tri-county area were able to provide insight into the constrained framework our educators have to work within. This is further exacerbated by budget cuts that have been made at both the state and local levels.

As if another cut to school funding is not motive enough to oppose the bill, Wilmington has seen a great reduction in traffic accidents in those intersections where the red light cameras are in place. According to the NC Department of Transportation, in 2008, Wilmington ranked number one for car crashes compared to other cities with populations of 10,000 or more.

This staggering statistic illustrates the need for traffic cameras in places like Wilmington that have a high incidence of traffic accidents. A study conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety found the cameras save lives and prevent crashes in intersections.

So you are running through a red light...the camera catches you. You should have stopped but you didn't. You were caught in the act. That is the same premise as Red Light-Green Light, an old fashioned children’s' game...why shouldn’t you pay a fine?

Unfortunately, this issue isn’t as simple as playing a childhood game….but we will be covering our eyes and turning our backs if we don't stop the red light legislation that affects children's education. We have a responsibility to see that everyone follows the rules.

Because these cameras help “patrol” intersections, police can focus on other priorities, and the schools get much-needed funding. With our efforts to improve region’s K-12 school systems and quality of life, Cape Fear Future opposes passage of this bill. Please reach out to our representatives in the North Carolina House and educate them on the implications…and let’s send Senate Bill 187 back to the starting line.

Please see the link below for a list of the NC House of Representatives Members. Click on the Representative’s name and you will be able to access their contact information.


Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Make a pledge of financial support for a new Arts Council for Wilmington and New Hanover County

Cape Fear Future supports the creation of an arts council in Wilmington and New Hanover County to expand arts-driven economic development, to cultivate and sustain artists and arts organizations in our community and to enhance the quality of life for our citizens.

The Steering Committee established to create an arts council for Wilmington and New Hanover County believes that the best foundation for an arts council is a public/private partnership made up of government support from local, state and federal sources, and private support from businesses, individuals and foundations. The steering committee is currently seeking support from local government sources and believes private sector pledges may help leverage that support.

In order to demonstrate a strong level of commitment from the private sector, we are asking our business members to join us in pledging their financial support for an arts council by April 30th. You will be only be asked to fulfill your pledge if funding is secured from local government sources by September 1, 2011.

Thank you for your pledge of support for the Arts Council of Wilmington and New Hanover County, a 501(c) 3 not-for-profit organization. Contributions are tax-deductible as allowed by law.

Please see the link below to make a pledge:


Thursday, April 7, 2011

Cape Fear Future Hosts First Commission Meeting of the Year

This Wednesday, the Cape Fear Future Foundation Board hosted the first Cape Fear Future Commission meeting of 2011.

The three school superintendents from the tri-county area participated in a panel discussion: Ms. Allison Sholar of Pender, Dr. Tim Markley of New Hanover, and Dr. Edward Pruden of Brunswick. The moderated discussion was led by John Gizdic, Vice President of New Hanover Regional Medical Center and team leader for Cape Fear Future’s Education Task Force. This team is focused on supporting our region’s K-12 school systems and STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) proficiency. Therefore, the goal of this summit was to gain a better understanding of the challenges, strengths, and opportunities facing our schools and what the business community can do to help improve school performance.

A range of topics were covered in an attempt to educate the Commission and invited guests, while also engaging their participation and analysis of school performance. The meeting began with an overview of the three school systems and the current challenges they face. While they all confront a range of encumbrances, two main areas were identified: the shrinking federal, state, and local budgets which drastically reduce resources and also the challenge in keeping our kids in school.

Public schools are held accountable to both federal and state standards which leaves little flexibility. However, our regions’ schools have implemented a range of programs to better monitor individual student performance and overall graduation rates. The foundation of these school systems are strong; nonetheless, there is always room for improvement and, with reduced resources and personnel, it is challenging. Part of the meeting was dedicated to covering these programs and subsequent performance metrics, but the core of the meeting called on the business community’s input.

Dr. Tim Markley made an illuminating point: schools do not operate like businesses because when schools have a budget shortfall they still have kids coming through the door that they have to provide for. Therefore, the business community’s participation is a viable and valuable strategy that can help supplement this hindrance.

So what did the panel suggest businesses do? They welcomed the idea of summer internships for students and teachers in an effort to provide them a real-world view of life after high school. These internships would also help students understand the connection between their studies and their post graduate careers. Mentorships are also needed at all levels. Many children do not have the background or support they need to do well in school and these types of partnerships help fill that gap. Another recommendation was for business people to meet with principals and teachers to talk about best management and leadership practices. The panelists also expressed the need for outside individuals to actually visit the schools so they can get a better understanding of the framework in which the administration must operate.

The superintendents also cited current successful partnerships that they would like to see duplicated. For example, GE has had a long-term presence at Rachel Freeman School of Engineering where dozens of volunteers work with the students, coaching them on how math and science are used in their professions.

Williston Middle School is going to launch a pilot iPad program which will allow new opportunities for growth in education through technology, while supporting the utilization of 21st century technology. In Brunswick County, they will be using federal funds from Race to the Top to implement Project Lead the Way, a STEM education curriculum for middle and high schools. Pender County has several STEM programs in place as well, and they are currently expanding and improving their technology infrastructure by going wireless.

As the Cape Fear Future Education Team’s goal is to support K-12 education with a focus on STEM, the aforementioned programs should be highlighted and expanded to all schools. The next step will be a call for action to engage and partner the business community with our schools so we can provide our children and future workforce with the academic and communicative skills necessary to compete in our now global economy.

Education and quality of life are fundamental pillars of our community. The business community’s participation was vital to this discussion as they identify workforce preparation needs. The CFF team strongly believes a partnership between the business community and our schools systems is key for the improvement of our students’ education, future workforce skills, and economic development as a whole.

See the following link for the StarNews article: