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UNC-Chapel Hill and North Carolina State University will sponsor a forum “A Way Forward: Building a Globally Competitive South,” on Nov. 17 in Cary.

UNC Chancellor Holden Thorp and NC State Chancellor Randy Woodson will convene the free public forum from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m., with a reception to follow. The site will be the world headquarters of business analytics software company SAS at 100 SAS Campus Drive in Cary.

“We need to act purposefully to reset our region’s upward trajectory,” Thorp said. “The forum will bring together people and ideas that can help us all better understand what it’s going to take to move the South and North Carolina forward for the long term.”

Woodson said, “There’s no question that the research, innovation and graduates produced at colleges and universities have had a strong and positive impact on the South and the nation. This forum is a great opportunity to sharpen our focus and seek ways to work together toward helping our state and region regain their economic vitality.”

Scheduled speakers include former N.C. Gov. Jim Hunt; UNC President Tom Ross; N.C. Secretary of Commerce Keith Crisco; N.C. Central University Chancellor Charles Nelms; William B. Harrison Jr., a 1966 UNC graduate and the retired chairman and chief executive officer of JPMorgan Chase & Co.; and James W. Owens, former chairman and chief executive officer of Caterpillar Inc., the world’s largest manufacturer of construction and mining equipment, and a member of the NC State Board of Trustees.

The forum is supported by FedEx Corp. and hosted by SAS and its cofounders, CEO Jim Goodnight and Executive Vice President John Sall.

The forum is being held in conjunction with the release of a new report of the same name issued by UNC’s Global Research Institute. In 1986, two reports focusing on the South’s major issues were published – “Halfway Home and a Long Way to Go,” by the Southern Growth Policies Board, and “Shadows on the Sunbelt,” by MDC.

“A Way Forward: Building a Globally Competitive South” serves as an update to those reports and includes nearly 40 essays on strengthening the South’s economy in a global marketplace. Writers include Thorp, Woodson, Nelms, N.C. Community College System President Scott Ralls and other education, development and policy leaders. The report will be posted by Nov. 17.

Register to send the required RSVP.