North Carolina’s Research Triangle is one of the country’s leaders in the development of smart grid technology that, much like the smart phone, is using twenty-first technology to modernize electricity delivery systems. The advantages for business, communities, and consumers are significant: from job and investment growth to improved energy efficiency and distribution.
But, as several chambers of commerce recently discovered, identifying smart grid clusters also help chambers recruit more companies to their region.
The idea first emerged several years ago when Research-Triangle based chambers, in Raleigh, Morrisville and Wake Forest, worked with a local economic development agency to evaluate their local economic assets and identify regional trends.
In the process, they identified an emerging cluster of smart grid firms as a powerful new asset, and quickly set about using it to recruit new firms to their communities.
Carlotta Ungaro, President of the Morrisville Chamber of Commerce, drew upon her experience working for the magazine now known as Utility Automation & Engineering T&D, the first publication in the smart grid field.
“The Triangle has always been a leader in the smart grid field,” Ungaro said. “Understanding that we had a smart grid cluster allowed us to recruit more companies working on these cutting edge technologies to our area.”
“Three companies located in the Triangle – Itron, ABB and Schneider – dominated the product discussion and research in this growing field,” Ungaro added. “And they have continued to lead the way in the industry and locally in fostering the high concentration of smart grid companies in the Triangle.”
That concentration, according to the Research Triangle Regional Partnership, a not-for-profit organization created by chamber leaders in Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill, has led to the creation of more than 83,000 net new jobs in the last five years.
Additional information about the regional smart grid cluster can be found in a recent article in the Cary Citizen.