Presidential Perspectives: Lessons from Ancient Greece


Archimedes once famously said, “Give me a place to stand and I can move the world.” The ancient Greek physicist (287-212 B.C.) was describing the compounding strength of a well-placed leverage point. Anyone who’s had to change a tire on a two-ton SUV can appreciate the concept of leverage.

The multiplying power of a lever can also be seen in regional economic development. In linking together financial, technical and leadership assets from a diverse spectrum of allies and partners, North Carolina’s Southeast is able to consolidate relatively modest resources and convert them into big results. Our organization serves as a key portal for input from public, private, philanthropic and academic interests in the region. In pooling these contributions – not just funding, but ideas, energy and credibility – we are able to make bold moves in advancing the region’s economic prospects.

Here are a few recent examples. Last year, we completed a comprehensive assessment of the region’s workforce assets – a first in the region and among the few such studies to take place in North Carolina; that initiative pulled together federal and state funding and harnessed experience and perspective from the region’s colleges, universities and public school systems. We are now able to pursue exciting job-creation opportunities in alternative energy through grants we’ve received from the N.C. Biotechnology Center and the Biofuels Center of North Carolina. Corporate funding and guidance are behind a first-of-its-kind strategy to promote Southeastern North Carolina as a destination for foreign direct investment (FDI).

Through it all, we’re able to rely on a consistent base of financial support from the North Carolina General Assembly and the technical expertise of local and state economic developers who are an ongoing part of our team. A strong regional partnership ensures all these components can come together a single and very potent leverage point, proving that big returns can be achieved through modest investments and shared risks. All that is required is a common purpose.

As Archimedes taught us, the proper positioning can turn seemingly mammoth tasks into manageable solutions.


Steve Yost