Raleigh planner headlines WDI economic luncheon
March 7, 2012By Jamaal E. O'Neal
Strengthening investment and development downtown served as the backdrop for Wilmington Downtown Inc.’s 2012 Economic Development luncheon Wednesday.
Mitchell Silver, president of the American Planning Association and chief planning and economic development officer of Raleigh, delivered the keynote address — which focused on the latest demographic trends, regional synergy, economic development, the state of downtowns and developments efforts in place through the greater Triangle region.
Silver told attendees that regional planners must take steps to address rapid population growth and changes in their communities, including Wilmington.
“People over the age of 65 will increase 124 percent,” Silver said. “For the first time in American history, the number of single families will equal the number of family households, and by 2030 [single family] households will exceed that total . . . we have to ask ourselves now, who are we planning for?”
Silver said it’s important for government entities and developers to be responsive to changes taking place in their community. He added cities should also be focused on generating a significant return on development, which means focusing on the core of the community and creating partnerships with neighboring cities.
“You rise as a region, and you fall as a region,” Silver said. “That’s why you have to work together.”
Silver emphasized the importance higher education research plays in economic development, referencing the greater Triangle area’s concentration of high-tech software incubators and innovation. These high-tech companies have helped Raleigh lure and retain Generation “Y” residents — those born between 1982 and 1995.
“All the changes are going to happen with this generation,” Silver said. “It’s not so much about the job as it is the place they want to relocate to; what does the city offer them. If it’s not much then many of them walk. We’ve got to start thinking: do we want to give your tomorrow for today, or do you want to give your today for tomorrow?”