Perspectives Online

Innovative action for economic development

The College's ongoing mission of improving the state's economy was among topics presented by Dean Johnny Wynne (left) to CALS alumni during a statewide tour this past spring.
Photo by Daniel Kim

The new slogan adopted by N.C. State University is "Innovation in Action." I believe there's nowhere in the university that this slogan is more appropriate than in our College. Many of our innovative programs provide economic opportunities to North Carolinians that will allow them to better their lives and strengthen their communities.

Improving the state's economy has always been the business of the College, as part of our land-grant mission. Our extension, teaching, research and technology-transfer capabilities continue to enhance and support traditional industries and new technology-based companies, while bringing alternative agribusiness and entrepreneurial opportunities to communities across the state.

One example featured here is the College's role in helping farmers in the piedmont and coastal plain grow burley tobacco to fill the shortage left as growers in the west stop producing tobacco after the buyout. Other innovative and responsive research activities include plant-breeding programs that offer alternative crops for producers and a micropropagation program that is revitalizing the strawberry industry and keeping strong commodities such as the sweetpotato.

Spanning the state are the College's research and extension efforts in connection with agritourism ventures, medicinal herb projects and a new antioxidant nutritional supplement made from muscadine grape hulls. We also bring news from Johnston County, where an Extension aquaculture agent has provided the expertise to enable three entrepreneurs bring to life a new enterprise raising freshwater prawns, large shrimp grown in ponds on land that once supported tobacco.

Cooperative Extension provides the people of the state the latest and best information and helps them use it to build more prosperous or satisfying lives. Here you'll see how this happens at many of the Extension county centers serving as Gateways for university engagement with local communities.

To serve county-based economic development projects and corporate bioprocessing projects linked to farm production, Dr. Blake Brown of our Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics is spearheading the creation of a foundation to fund research and extension projects on value-added agriculture and applied biotechnology. Learn here how this foundation and center can benefit everyone from former tobacco farmers turning to alternative enterprises to private bioprocessing businesses.

Among the most important of the College's contributions to the state's economy are the innovative academic programs that enable students to qualify for lucrative jobs and provide the workforce for newer industries, such as biotechnology companies. At the same time, these programs support traditional commodities, such as the livestock industry, for which our 4-H youth livestock program is training tomorrow's leaders. Here we tell you about these programs, student leadership activities and innovative degree programs, such as the Master's in Microbial Biotechnology, which give students the springboard to better jobs and new corporations a workforce worth locating for in North Carolina.

Take a look here at some of the College endeavors under way to foster economic growth for our state.

Johnny Wynne, Dean
College of Agriculture and Life Sciences