The Big Picture: Website Offers Look at NC's Global Role
RALEIGH, N.C. – North Carolina is exporting products around the world. Children in even rural parts of the state are learning Mandarin. Nearly 250,000 North Carolinians are employed by foreign companies. All are examples of how the Tar Heel State engages with the world. But for the first time, there's an online portal to track the state's global engagement.
Rick Van Sant, executive director of Go Global NC, explained why his organization created the interface.
"There's a lot happening out there, but it tends to happen independently, in small fragments," he explained. "But the question for a state level, for policy makers, for people who have larger decisions to make, is how do we do this intentionally and strategically with an eye toward the entire state?"
North Carolina's Global Engagement Snapshot aims to develop leadership that supports global engagement, increase the world's awareness of what the state has to offer, develop an infrastructure that supports international partnerships, and ensure citizens are prepared to succeed in a global community. The online tool is available to anyone but is specifically targeted to state, regional, and local policymakers.
Van Sant acknowledged that global economic shifts have led to jobs moving overseas, but he said it's important for people to realize the "ship has sailed" and the only way to build new opportunities is to understand and engage with the rest of the world.
"There is really no discussion to be had any more about whether we should or we shouldn't," he said. "It's already happened. We live in this very global, contextual world. It's the reality. You can like it, you can not like it, you can rail against it, you can embrace it. But the reality is that train's done left the station."
The Snapshot was developed by Go Global NC, Elon University, and RTI International in partnership with a public-private partnership called the NC Coalition for Global Competitiveness. According to the portal, Canada is the state's number one export partner. When it comes to education, more than 380,000 K-12 students in the state study a foreign language and international college students spend $458,000,000 in North Carolina annually.