Part I: The Future of NC

“The future is now. I mean it.” 

North Carolina is ever-changing. The capital city has become a destination for foodies, families and technologists. The Queen City continues to grow. The urban areas are spilling out into the suburbs and are thriving. The mountains and the coast continue to be frequented by vacationers from within the state and out. Finding its footing as a purple state, a home of deep urban-rural divide and defining as an innovation destination, North Carolinians question the vision for its future.

"A high speed rails and subway system between major cities (especially the triangle) so that I40 isn't a nightmare every day." –Eric, Chapel Hill, NC

"A high speed rails and subway system between major cities (especially the triangle) so that I40 isn't a nightmare every day." –Eric, Chapel Hill, NC

Neptune said he can easily see the potential of the City of Oaks, especially taking into account the actions our communities made and how they continue to affect the lives of North Carolinians.

"The future of our particular community Raleigh is full of so much potential," Neptune said. "It really and truly can be a bright future. There is no doubt in my mind. I believe that because again I have been witness to the consequences, the ramifications, the outcomes of decisions made 30 years ago in other communities right here in our backyard. I’ve seen the good and I’ve seen the opposite. When I think about the city of Raleigh and it’s potential to be a world-class city, to be this modern city, this beacon, to be a capital city, it is truly possible."

Olverson said he can see North Carolina becoming a leader in the southeast, specifically in innovation.

Dave Olverson

Dave Olverson

"While surrounding states are slow to adopt driverless cars, solar energy initiatives, and other breakthroughs, NC allows those advancements to thrive in our state," Olverson said. "Of course, there needs to be safeties put in place and due diligence, but all of that with an eye to keeping those new technologies safe as opposed to maintaining the status quo.

"There is little competition from other states in our region to be a leader in this regard. Few southern states are early adopters and have a culture of fostering innovation. North Carolina has a vibrant startup scene. Innovation already exists here. The state can be an inspiration in the Southeast, a place where our residents are excited and proud to live here and where we are always trying to improve quality of life for our residents."

Neptune said Raleigh leaders struggle what direction the city should go as it continues to grow and attract national attention.

"Who is defining that vision?" Neptune said. "Who’s defining for us what this means? Who’s leading us there? I’ll tell you what we do currently have: people responsible for our future. These are good people many of them. I know these people. I talk to them every day.

"The truth is I’ve yet to hear or to feel or to see anybody quite frankly articulate to me where we’re going and what we’re doing. God bless ‘em. I love all of them. I talk to them every day, but I don’t hear, I don’t feel it."
The Raleigh Skyline

The Raleigh Skyline

Baloch said she thought about the vision for Raleigh while running for city council. For her, it can be simplified, even as the city continues to build.

"Throughout my campaign, I talked a lot about having a city for everyone, a healthy city and a safe city,” she said.

"Raleigh is growing and developing and we’ve grown so much. I’ve lived here my entire life and I’m like, ‘Oh my God.’ It’s changes you can see while living here your entire life."

For Blackburn, he has lived in North Carolina the majority of his life, watching the changes the state has made. He said he wants the state to be more progressive place for his children to grow up in.

"It’s a great area," Blackburn said. "I love the change that it’s gone through. I just wish it was speedier. My kids are young. I got an 8-year-old and a 5-year-old and I don’t want them to grow up in the shatters of things that I grew up in of the way North Carolina used to be and the way it still wants to hold onto things and it doesn’t want to get rid of."


Olverson said having a vision for a state that holds contrasting beliefs is problematic, and every community should try to define their vision individually.

"Certainly one of the bigger obstacles is the state trying to impose one-size-fits-all solutions," Olverson said. "Durham should be allowed to create the legislation that it wants to and similarly, the rural communities preferences should be respected. They should be allowed to make decisions on how they want to be governed. North Carolina has such a great diversity of people and ideas. I believe that shouldn't be frowned upon. The fact that we are a purple state should be a point of pride, and the different communities should be allowed to make decisions on the best way to serve their residents."

More in this series

Issue NC