How often has it been said that perceptions shape reality? 

In the case of the entire Research Triangle Park region, leaders from several different groups are trying to assess attitudes about what this area IS in the minds of its leaders and others as part of shaping new plans for the future.

As many people with an appreciation of RTP’s rich history from humble beginnings to a world-class presence today mourn the passing of a key Park founder, George Simpson, several organizations have expanded a new Research Triangle Region “Perception Study” another phase – seeking public attitudes and views.

“We are very excited about this project and its impact on the region,” says Lee Anne Nance, senior vice president of the Research Triangle Regional Partnership, who is heading up the project.

“The Research Triangle Regional Partnership is tasked with fostering economic growth and regional collaboration in the 13 counties surrounding the Research Triangle Park. Over the last few decades this region has become an engine for our state’s development — our job is to make sure that engine keeps running for decades to come.

“As part of this responsibility, the Research Triangle Regional Partnership, Raleigh Chamber of Commerce, Durham Chamber of Commerce and the Research Triangle Park Foundation, launched a perception study project to uncover what people think about the Research Triangle Region,” she explains.

“We are seeking to obtain the views of a diverse group to help us make the region even better.”

The Foundation recently unveiled a new strategic plan for the future of the Park. It calls for many changes, from housing to some form of mass transit, adding retail and much higher density.

But the RTP region is much more than RTP itself, as Nance points out. The RTRP has helped job creation strategies in the past and continues to work on new initiatives as one recently launched that focuses on smartgrid technology and the area’s emergence as a technology hub for that energy sector.

It’s encouraging to see the leadership of so many important organizations being committed to this project, which could lead to a comprehensive strategy for growing the Triangle into an even bigger economic, cultural and educational for in the future.

New, Bigger Study

Not that a perception study is new – but it’s time for a new one, Nance says. Plus, it’s bigger.

“RTRP has facilitated perception surveys in the past. The last one was seven years ago,” she says.

“This time, we decided to expand the conversation beyond the survey — a conversation with more people, from more places, in a variety of ways.

“We (the four partners) engaged New Kind in Raleigh to design and implement the project. The results will be released at the 2013 State of the Region event in May.”

The project is divided into four phases, the latest of which is a survey underway now. It is building off results gained from two other steps.

“Phase 1: Internal Perceptions Analysis – workshop of local leaders to obtain their perceptions of the region. This workshop was held in August,” Nance explains.

“Phase 2: External Perceptions Analysis – workshop of leaders who have recently relocated to the area to obtain their perceptions of the region before they arrived and since they arrived. This workshop was held in October.

“Phase 3: Survey – survey of internal stakeholders, external stakeholders (site selection consultants, location advisors, realtors, Fortune 1000 CEO’s, etc.) and international stakeholders (sister clusters around the world). This activity is currently underway.”

The finale?

“Phase 4- Competitive Analysis – matrix of factors that will be used to compare against thirteen regions with whom we most often compete. This activity is currently underway.”

In an email sent to people asked to participate in the survey, Nance writes that it “is important to us to know how you perceive the Research Triangle Region.”

For those who choose tt participate, do so knowing your perceptions may help a future reality.