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An article in the Atlantic has been making the rounds on the Internet today (at least here in North Carolina) as it highlights local entrepreneurs. Durham’s Kickstarter Kids highlights a trend in the Triangle, typically known for big IT and pharma. With one of the most educated populaces in the nation, the Triangle (the NC region encompassing Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill) is becoming a hotbed for small start ups and creative ideas. Durham in particular has undergone a renaissance in the past five to ten years, attracting residents and businesses to a downtown that faded as the tobacco industry moved away.

So what are they doing? They’re making custom bound journals by marrying technology with just-in-time printing capabilities, using technology to create custom clothing, and making doughnuts (hey innovation needs fuel).

Durham is a great example of how a once industrial town can reinvent itself through an educated populace, creative thinking, and technology/innovation.

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The Daily Beast just published a list of America’s Smartest Cities, confirming what we here at W5 have know all along. Our hometown(s) – Raleigh-Durham (and Chapel Hill), North Carolina – are at the top of the list!

“Raleigh-Durham has just about every intangible useful in attracting and developing a smart populace: It’s a university hub, including two of the nation’s elite schools (Duke and the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill), and those schools led to one of the nation’s great technology incubators (Research Triangle). On top of that, Raleigh, as the state’s capital, attracts engaged political minds, as well. “We are fortunate to have great universities in Raleigh-Durham and great ‘smart’ industries that enrich our community greatly,” Raleigh Mayor Charles Meeker told The Daily Beast. Enrichment enough to top our list.”

On behalf all of us at W5, a sincere congratulations to our friends and neighbors! You deserve it. Now back to work!

Tom and I were at lunch last week when we picked up the Meals from the Market 2009 booklet. It’s a really nice piece of community fundraising and activism centered around meals, and wine & beer tastings at various locations and homes within Durham. With events like Bouncy House & Barbecue, Cocktails @ Cassilhaus (an architectural beauty), and Authenic Haytian Food & Dance in Historic Hayti there literally appears to be enough types of food, drink, and events for everyone. It’s a very interesting, and social way to help with Durham’s continued revival.

Check it out at www.durhamcentralpark.org

Durham Bulls 0 / Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs 4 :: 11(!) innings

Faulkner in the sunshine- working hard or hardly working?

Faulkner in the sunshine- working hard or hardly working?

Over the past couple of years, we’ve seen an increase in marketing research work focused on constituencies in the south. This work has not just focused in the area in which we’re based (the Research Triangle of North Carolina – Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill) or in Atlanta, but all over the south.  Some have been targeted to populations of certain southern states; some target hand-picked Southern DMAs; and some studies have focused on select counties or parishes in certain southern states. And this work is not just coming from clients who are based in the South.

I don’t think it’s a sign of major economic or social turnaround for the region, but it is interesting to see populations within the south considered as representative on a national scale. Marketers are not just looking to middle America for feedback before moving forward with strategic initiatives – there is an increased regional focus. There is also increased focus on the Northwest and the Southwest as regions, and we’re working there too. But the exploration of Southern lifestyles and opinions sparks a particular interest for me. Read the rest of this entry »

It’s been an unusually cold winter for North Carolina, but Tom has still managed to grow some winter vegetables on our patio.  If you’ve ever wondered what happens to brocolli if you don’t harvest it, see the attached picture. Will upload more pictures as we get W5 ready for spring.

One of the nice things about living near RTP is that as the area has grown, more and more innovative business has moved into the area.  Recently a former restaurant owner in the area decided to go simple and bring street food to the area.  Instead of high-priced dinners,  Sam Poley and Tom Ferguson of the Durham Catering Company have brought us OnlyBurger. The concept?  Great burgers at a cheap price without any pretention.  Let the product stand for itself.  

The location moves from site to site much like the castle in Krull (a movie everyone should see at least once in their lives). The cool thing about them (besides the food) is that they use Twitter to broadcast where they are going to be and when. It’s a nice marriage of technology, old lunch trucks, and Just-in-time solutions.