While the rest of the country will be hearing all kinds of hoopla, protests, occupy movements, riots, and campaign platform speeches out of North Carolina during the Democratic National Convention in coming weeks, several regions are feverishly working to develop a solid pipeline of qualified technicians to address the skill shortages in critical career paths. Often portrayed in the media as a backward, ignorant, southern state, North Carolina is more progressive in business development than many realize. Hampered by the NAFTA agreements evacuation of textiles, furniture and the increased regulation of tobacco production, North Carolina has been dealing with economic transitions since the late nineties. Over 400,000 jobs have been off-shored and eliminated, however, North Carolina has been very resilient by actively retooling, renovating and upgrading their economic recruitment and workforce development efforts. Recently, the Triad region has partnered together with their 11 community colleges and JobLink Centers to develop strategies and processes to generate high quality, fast track, retooled workforce to address the shortfall of CNC machinists, technicians and other resource that the area businesses like Caterpillar, Honda Jet, Deere-Hitachi and other major businesses sorely need. This cooperative effort is providing this region a competitive advantage at retaining existing and recruiting new companies to North Carolina. These progress workforce development approaches are getting attention of government and business leaders worldwide including a future expose by 60 minutes. I am delighted to reside in this region and that leaders are seeking my input in their efforts to grow and thrive in difficult times. So when you begin to hear all of the hoopla in coming weeks, know that beneath the rhetoric and fanfare, there are some solid work and efforts underway. Hope you also share your regions efforts to grow and advance too.