Season 2, Episode 4
CES2020 Colin Kiser of EDPNC
Joining me on the podcast is Colin Kiser from the EDPNC, the Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina. Colin works in the international business development group, focusing on foreign direct investments coming from Europe and India. His role is helping North Carolina develop business partnerships around the globe.
The EDPNC team is part of the North Carolina Startup Pavilion and will be in Booth 52314 in Eureka Park. Listen in as EDPNC’s Colin Kiser joins Janet Kennedy, host of Trade Show Live – On the Road!
About This Episode
Announcer: 00:00 You’re listening to Trade Show Live On the Road, featuring conversations with the people who bring trade shows to life, including attendees, exhibitors, sponsors and trade show, industry thought leaders. We attend trade shows around the country in a wide variety of industries from healthcare to consumer products and everything in between. The podcast is a production of the Trade Show Manager, a trade show consulting firm. And now let’s go On the Road with Trade Show Live.
Janet Kennedy: 00:28 Welcome to Trade Show Live On the Road. This podcast is a production of the Trade Show Manager and features an in depth look at the people, companies and organizations that bring trade shows to life. We are heading again to CES in 2020 the Trade Show Manager has assembled an exciting group of North Carolina based startups and organizations. We’re going to be in Eureka park. Again, that’s the home of some of the most exciting ideas from around the globe. Joining me on the podcast today is Colin Kiser from the EDPNC, which stands for the economic development partnership of North Carolina. Colin works in the international business development group, focusing on foreign direct investments coming from Europe and India. His role is helping North Carolina develop business partnerships around the globe. Welcome to the podcast, Colin.
Colin Kiser: 01:18 Janet, thank you so much. Really looking forward to this conversation.
Janet Kennedy: 01:21 Absolutely. All right, well let’s start with a couple of basics. EDPNC – economic development partnership of North Carolina. Is that something that every state has or is North Carolina a little unique in that regard?
New Speaker: 01:36 So we are slightly unique but had been following a trend that many States have embarked upon over the past 10 years, especially with an economic development. So before five years ago, we just finished off our five year anniversary by the way. So we’re four or five years old as an organization, all of the client facing functions of economic development were housed within state government, carried out mostly by the department of commerce. The department of commerce is still is very active and a partner of ours, but the state legislature has moved most of those functions out into a private public partnership. That is EDPNC. So now five years in, we’re established, we’ve got a great partnership with commerce and we’ve worked with all the different state agencies, but we are the ones that are out boots on the ground all over the world telling about North Carolina from a tourism and business standpoint.
Janet Kennedy: 02:28 Oh, tourism and business. Now, for CES, we’re talking to the business side of the house. Why do you think it’s important that EDPNC actually be at the consumer electronics show?
Colin Kiser: 02:41 Great question. Especially since this is only our second year going and as you well know, and most of our listeners know, CES has been around for a long time, so why are we just now getting involved? CES is naturally with 180,000 visitors coming through. Just a massive opportunity, the tech world. Now when we say tech, what does that mean any more? Tech is in everything. Every single industry is being disrupted and transformed by technology. But we realized that as North Carolina is truly a state of minds, we are a knowledge based economy now and that is continuing to ramp up with software and product development than agricultural technology and biotech. We need to be out there telling the story, especially to large companies down to fledgling startup companies that this is an area that they need to know about for just the talent that we have, the university ecosystem that we have the quality of life and just part of the larger macro economic trend of technology and businesses moving into the Southeastern United States. So we want to be there. We want to be there with the big players and with the small players to say that, Hey, we’re here to support you and to show the advantages of doing business in North Carolina.
Janet Kennedy: 04:02 Well, I love hearing a lot of the positive news that is coming out of North Carolina, but I bet you are especially excited to hear that we made a top 10 tech town listing recently.
Colin Kiser: 04:13 I absolutely was. Funny enough, Janet, there seems to be a different ranking every week that comes out that has Asheville or Charlotte or Raleigh and even places like Greenville, North Carolina that has a really solid pharmaceutical and biotechnology cluster. We rank so well in a diverse array of sectors. So, and that’s something that we’re proud of and we want to continue to build that. But specifically in tech, yes. We, we see that consistently and we’re happy and we’re seeing results come from that. We have companies approach us all the time, us having, not found them, but them having found us to say we’re looking for an expansion. We want to know more about X, Y, Z.
Janet Kennedy: 04:56 And I think that’s an important thing to consider that economic development doesn’t necessarily mean everything is grassroots started from North Carolina. You guys are in essence, our recruiting team, right? Going out there and trying to bring companies to North.
Colin Kiser: 05:10 That’s correct, Janet. And thanks for bringing that up because while I’m the one on this podcast and we at EDP and C get a lot of attention for our work. There is an entire ecosystem and infrastructure of partners that help companies from the first phone call that’s made for a business license all the way up through finding funding, building a business plan, getting products to market, helping export them. There is so much to do within the world of economic development. Within that term alone, we occupy a very small sliver within the recruitment team, but it is many times what grabs the headlines. Thousand jobs here, 500 jobs there, but yes there there is an entire ecosystem and infrastructure that supports small to large businesses in North and funny enough we’ll actually have some of those partners with us at CES. We have partners from the Charlotte regional business Alliance and the wake County economic development agency, our local partners that are a little more connected with some of the startup incubators and initiatives at the local level to get tech coming up in their areas.
Janet Kennedy: 06:18 That is really exciting and I think that’s what I enjoy so much about business in North Carolina is that we have legacy businesses of over a hundred years to folks that literally started something in their garage and a year later they’re expanding and getting funding and all kinds of things. We have entrepreneurs and seasoned business people in North Carolina. Well, I’m curious about your background and what you do. I know you focus on Europe and India. What does that mean? Are you on the road a lot? Are you a million miler? What does that involved in what you do?
Colin Kiser: 06:53 Thank goodness I’m not a million miler Janet, and the reason being we actually have people on the ground all over the world that do this work day in and day out, essentially doing lead generation, working with multipliers, consultants and actual companies to find who needs an expansion opportunity within the U S particularly within the Southeast. And then we work with them on the labor tax logistics piece to show the advantages of North Carolina. So we actually have offices in Seoul, South Korea, Tokyo, Japan, Beijing, China, Bangalore, India and Berlin. Germany. Now I cover – like you’d mentioned – India and the EU, but those individuals are really this extension of our team. They are the ones that are out connecting with these startup incubators and these large companies and then bringing those conversations over to us and then hopefully the company comes over, does a visit in North Carolina. We move the project forward that way. So yes, I am on the road quite a bit and do travel overseas, but we work hand in hand with our overseas offices to have that market intelligence and that local connection.
Janet Kennedy: 08:04 So when you’re out there pitching North Carolina, I’m really curious about what are some of the top, I don’t know, three or five things that you would say make North Carolina a great place to have a business?
Colin Kiser: 08:17 Three or five things. That’s hard to narrow down, but I have to do this all the time. So perfect. I would say first off for a European and Indian business is our connectivity to the world. We are not in New York, we’re not San Francisco, so we don’t have these large airports that can get us to basically whatever destination we need in one stop. But we are extremely connected to Europe. Charlotte for instance, Charlotte Douglas airport is the sixth busiest airport for takeoff and landing in the world right now. So there are multiple flights daily into Europe and that is a major draw and that’s same for Raleigh Durham and that gets you connected. That gets the people here that gets the executives here that lets those transatlantic business flights take place. But it’s really down to the talent, Janet, it’s all about talent. We’re at 4% unemployment nationwide right now.
Colin Kiser: 09:11 So no matter where you are, whether you’re in a large city or rural America, the question is do you have the talent right now to fill this project’s demands and will you have the talent in 10 years? So companies are not only looking at the current labor situation, but the investments that North Carolina is making into its university and community college systems to fill that talent pipeline so that there will be CNC machine operators and software developers in five and 10 15 years from now. So again, logistics being connected worldwide, truly being a global state to our talent when it comes to consumer products in particular, our central location within the Eastern seaboard, having the interstate 85 and interstate 95 running right through our state, that gives us connection to about 70% of the U S population within a day and a half truck drive. So we actually see a lot of opportunities from companies all over the world just because of where we’re located. And of course we like to claim credit for that, but that’s where we are literally. So that’s nice. So I think that our connectivity to the world, our connectivity to the entire U S which is the largest consumer market in the world, and our advantage within talent because we are the third fastest growing state that guarantees a good workforce now. And a good workforce for the future.
Janet Kennedy: 10:38 I imagine if people are moving from California or from New York to North Carolina, the cost of living and housing is probably very attractive as well.
Colin Kiser: 10:48 Yes, it absolutely is. We have, let’s say in biotechnology, naturally the Boston and Cambridge areas are a true bastion of that industry. But we’re seeing a lot of companies move into North Carolina from that area because a two bedroom apartment in Boston costs just $750,000. You being a North Carolinian, you know, that is not the fact here. And you can get something of that same amount for $250,000. So that affects the bottom line for companies. And that is especially what larger corporates are looking at, is how can I have the same talent? How can I have the same access to universities? How can I have all the things that I have been this one area, this high cost area, but cut this cost of employment by 30 or 40% and that is something that we’re seeing as a value proposition to companies that we’re delivering on. So yes, the cost of living is significantly lower than many of the areas, specifically in tech that we’re competing with.
Janet Kennedy: 11:50 Awesome. Now you all had your first experience at CES last year. Chris Chung, your executive director was there and some other team members as well as some partners from County development around the state of North Carolina. I’m curious since this will be your first CES, what did they tell you about their experience and what you should expect?
Colin Kiser: 12:11 They told me it’s going to be an absolute frenzy in the best possible way, particularly in Eureka park, which has all of these startups from all over the world and is innovation cluster there that it’s just going to be traffic all day long. There’s not a lack of people to talk to and opportunities for networking, connecting companies within North Carolina and nationally being right there within the North Carolina started pavilion, but again, companies from all over the world. So what I’m expecting is a lot of walking, a lot of talking and a lot of note taking for companies that we’re meeting with because we have this solid value proposition and we’re ready to go out and tell that story so that’s why we’re there. So it’s going to be a full week when we’re truly looking forward to that.
Janet Kennedy: 12:58 Awesome. Yes, the comfort and souls is the important part to remember. Well, I’m really looking forward to having EDPNC back because I’m just so proud of this state. I was born up north but I moved down here right after college and they have stayed in this general area for a couple of decades and I love it. It has a little bit for everybody. It has really a, an absolutely wonderful weather temperament for those of us who really don’t like snow, but I think it’s also a beautiful, beautiful state and it’s really amazing to work in particularly the triangle area where companies have really committed to creating beautiful properties with trees and it’s just a really lovely, lovely place to live.
Colin Kiser: 13:44 I really do agree on that Janet. I am not a North Carolinian. My wife is and I’ve been here for about seven years. And that is something that I see particularly from companies that are moving from Ohio or New Jersey or New York, that the quality of life, it cannot be underestimated as a business decision, especially from from the executive level all the way down to people on the shop floor. It’s just a warmer here, it’s greener here, it’s easier to move around, it’s cheaper to live. And again, we work so that we live and if you’ve got a good value proposition like we have with being in the mountains or being the beach and having a low cost of living, but having all the amenities that come along with a big city. So when in combination, and not to mention the business climate, which is ranked top four out of all States in the U S every single year. So we’ve got a good thing going and why we’re going to CES. We aim to continue that by finding new companies that want to continue to grow in our state.
Janet Kennedy: 14:46 Well. That’s excellent and I really look forward to you being exhausted on the last day of the show, Colin. That is my goal is you saying, how are we done yet? I, I’m ready to go home.
Introducer: 14:59 I’m sure it will be accomplished. That’s what I’m rooting for as well.
Janet Kennedy: 15:02 Awesome. Well I thank you so much for being here, Collin. This has been a really wonderful opportunity to catch up with what’s going on at EDPNC and getting you all set for coming to CES in 2020 we’re going to have a heck of a show.
Colin Kiser: 15:18 Thanks Janet. Really looking forward to that. I’ll see you there.
Announcer: 15:20 Thanks for listening to Trade Show Live On the Road, a production of the Trade Show Manager, a trade show consulting firm. If you need innovative programs to engage attendees, exhibitors and sponsors, custom research or new solutions for your trade show, contact the Trade Show Manager on our website, thetradeshowmanager.com.
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