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Inside View: That's Me, NC

Laughter isn't something you typically hear in a board room. Ours had quite a bit Tuesday courtesy of a special guest.
 
We'd invited Kathy Proctor to join us for the meeting. We jokingly call her one of our poster children - she's a laid-off furniture worker who's getting a two-year biotech degree at Forsyth Tech. She embodies the promise we made nearly 30 years ago when the Center started creating a new  industry for the state.
 
You may remember Kathy - the mother of two who joined the First Lady in her box at the State of the Union address. The President was telling her story, and the cameras zoomed in on her.
 
"That's me," she turned to the person next to her and said. 
 
Her simple statement gained national attention, earned a segment on The Daily Show, and focused a very bright spotlight on North Carolina's turnaround. 
 
I listened as she talked about her suprise phone call from an unknown number, a confirmation call while she was driving on I-40, and her break-neck trip through the streets of Washington, D.C., lights flashing, to the Capitol. 
 
And I realized that a success story like this isn't the result of one or two things going right. 
 
It meant Forsyth Tech had to work with Guilford Tech and even Wake Forest to get their biotech program off the ground. 
 
It needed a strong, persistent commitment from Community College leaders to create NCBioNetwork. 
 
Industy had to participate in creating a world-uniqe worker training program. 
 
It hinged on the General Assembly and state leaders committing millions of dollars over time to build a strong foundation to attract and expand companies.
 
When all those things - and many more - come together, the result is Kathy Proctor. 58,495 Kathy Proctors at last count. 
 
And while we all laughed along with Kathy - and her challenge to keep the whole thing quiet - her story reminded us why we do this.
 
Jobs. A new economy. And a chance to make a difference.

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