Travis Crayton's blog

Why Chapel Hill Doesn’t Have More Startups, in One Chart

In early 2015, UNC-Chapel Hill released an extensive report about the business startups and spinoffs that faculty, students, and alumni have created. This report quantifies the impact of these businesses: 150+ businesses, 8,000 jobs created, and $7 billion in annual revenue for the state of North Carolina.

But what this report doesn’t detail is the direct impact of these startups and spinoffs on our local economy here in Chapel Hill, Carrboro, and Orange County. There’s a pretty simple reason for that: Few startups coming out of UNC stay in our community.  So why can’t Chapel Hill foster a local startup scene when other college towns, like Boulder and Cambridge, have gotten national attention for the startup economies they’ve developed in their own communities?

Where is Chapel Hill's "New Generation" of Leaders?

The N&O ran a piece at the start of 2016 about the “new generation” of leaders in the Triangle. Missing from their list? Any “new generation” leaders from Chapel Hill.

But this omission isn’t the N&O’s fault. If you look at Chapel Hill, you’ll find that the town has a shortage of the types of young professionals the N&O was looking for on this list – and a shortage of the kinds of amenities and resources required for young professionals to succeed. How can we have a new generation of leaders without any of the next generation living in town? Why don’t we have that next generation in town? And what does it mean for the future of Chapel Hill if an the next generation is missing from our community?

CHTC Candidates Debate Again

WCHL/Chapelboro, the Chapel Hill Realtors Association, and the Homebuilders of Durham-Orange-Chatham joined with the Chapel Hill-Carrboro Chamber and Sierra Club this year to hold their joint forum last Thursday.

The forum, moderated by WCHL's Aaron Keck, was two hours of fast-paced questions and answers on jobs, affordable housing, transit, growth, and more. Our Storify from the forum is below.

CHALT Hosts First Chapel Hill Candidate Forum

CHALT, the special-interest political action committee formed earlier this year, hosted the first Chapel Hill candidate forum last night at the Seymour Center.

Questions asked at the forum centered on development issues. Questions were often long and leading, including questions with factual errors and missing context. It seemed that questions were designed to promote a specific viewpoint rather than to give candidates a chance to share their views and vision for our town. Candidate pushback about the biased questions even led to the moderator, Theresa Raphael Grimm, to comment that she was only the messenger and had not written the questions – a CHALT committee had, she told the audience.

A Storify of the tweets from the forum is below, in case you missed it.

Building the "Chapel Hill" Brand

This commentary, written by me and fellow OP editor Molly De Marco, originally appeared in the Chapel Hill News on July 26, 2015.

Chapel Hill has a branding problem. There, we said it – and we said it because it’s time for us to have a frank and honest discussion about just exactly what Chapel Hill is and who we are as Chapel Hillians.

Far too often these days, it’s common for people to compare Chapel Hill to Durham or even Raleigh. But the fact is that we’re not Durham and we’re not Raleigh – and more importantly, we’re not competing with Durham or Raleigh.

Rather, as one of the nation’s leading and most desirable college towns, we’re competing with towns and cities across the country with major research universities, like Ann Arbor, Bloomington, Athens, and Austin.

Acknowledging this is the first step toward developing a Chapel Hill brand and using it to attract the individuals, businesses, and opportunities that will make Chapel Hill a unique regional and national leader.

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