Graduate Intern Boosts Research Capacity

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Since its founding in 1994, North Carolina’s Southeast has maintained valuable strategic partnerships with area universities. But more recently, the collaboration has yielded unique new technical and research support through a graduate internship program. Lauren Brown, who began working as an intern at North Carolina’s Southeast in June, is the first in what is hoped will be annual internship placements at the regional partnership. Brown, a student in UNC Wilmington’s Master of Public Administration program, has proven pivotal to the formation of an international strategy for the 11-county region.

Among other duties, Brown built a database of internationally-owned companies already in the Southeast, then sent surveys to them in an effort to identify the factors that brought them to the region. The surveys will also distill areas of mutual opportunity such as bringing supply chains closer. “I also did a best practice report on what other regional economic development organizations do for FDI marketing and international recruitment,” says Brown, a Swansboro, N.C., native who will receive her degree in December.

With the region’s international business database now complete, Brown is drafting a strategic plan for an international marketing campaign by North Carolina’s Southeast. She also is helping build an international section on the Southeast’s website that will include promotional information translated into German and other languages. “We’re targeting countries that are already in the region,” Brown says, “and German manufacturers are huge here.”

Brown says her internship experience at North Carolina’s Southeast, where she is being supervised by Marketing Research Manager Bart Richardson, has been rewarding. Her career interests in international business were an especially strong fit for her duties at the partnership. “I’d like to continue working internationally, whether it’s research, analysis or consulting,” Brown says. She credits her extensive foreign travel for instilling a curiosity and perspective that reach well beyond U.S. borders.

The Southeast Partnership hopes to utilize other business-savvy interns on a regular basis from UNC Wilmington, Fayetteville State University, UNC Pembroke and other academic partners.