For the last year I’ve been working with the Town of Chapel Hill to take its place on the map as one of the country’s great research and development centers. The others include Palo Alto, Berkeley, San Diego, Boulder, Madison, Austin, Pittsburgh and Boston. Chapel Hill has world class bioscience and social science research at UNC, but not the jobs, and we are working to brand the place and create more room for business.
The question is how to identify Chapel Hill nationally as a place where the post doc can finally settle down and have a life. It’s one thing to say Chapel Hill is the “Boulder of the South”, but Boulder stands for athleticism and the Rockies, and that doesn’t give Chapel Hill its own identity.
If a brand is a promise fulfilled, what is the promise of this place? After a year of working on this, I’ve found that the image above conveys the right feeling: stately trees, rock walls, and genuine conversation. That’s not "hip",“urban”, and “innovative”, but in a world of digital everything, it is genuine people and place. I find myself looking forward to my trips there, not just for the work, but for the good conversation at the end of the day.