An exciting new view of the North Carolina Arboretum will air as a news feature segment in UNC-TV’s North Carolina Now program at 7:30 p.m. this Thursday, March 19.

Most people who visit the Arboretum in Asheville enjoy it as a vacation stop at a “plant zoo” where the beauty and variety of the state’s mountain vegetation can be enjoyed in a magnificent Appalachian setting.

But the Arboretum is also an increasingly important scientific and economic resource for North Carolina. The biodiversity in the state’s western mountains has long been known as a rich source of potential for the careful harvest and nurture of plants with healing properties and other valuable traits.

So the Arboretum has helped spawn unique ways to not only preserve those precious resources and educate people about them, but also to commercialize some of these treasures and apply scientific discipline through the non-profit Bent Creek Institute business incubator, the North Carolina Arboretum Germplasm Repository and the affiliated U.S. Botanical Safety Laboratory.

The North Carolina Biotechnology Center has provided grant funding to help the Arboretum start the economic development push, including seed funding for Bent Creek Institute.

UNC-TV features highlight NC’s natural products ‘brand’

Several of these UNC-TV feature segments on the Arboretum are planned to highlight its work in branding North Carolina as the center of integrity for natural product research and development.

The seven-minute segment airing this week, and subsequently available for viewing online, includes brief interviews with four leaders in the science and business evolution that is creating new opportunities for western North Carolina:

  • Doug Edgeton, North Carolina Biotechnology Center president and CEO;
  • Charles Hamner, D.V.M., Ph.D., former NCBiotech president and a pioneer in natural products research;
  • Christopher Brown, Ph.D., the UNC System’s vice president for research and graduate education; and
  • Rick Williams, CEO of BioGateway Partners, a Durham firm developing natural products businesses in China and North Carolina.

Each discusses a different aspect of the evolution of the Arboretum’s Bent Creek Institute and its national and international economic impact on the state’s natural products economy.

Good-paying jobs, new opportunities for WNC

The Arboretum spinout organizations and their partner organizations such as NCBiotech, the UNC System, the state’s community college system and numerous businesses focused on natural products, are actively pursuing new economic development opportunities for the historically poor mountain region.

By recognizing the value of Native American and mountain settler uses of herbs and botanicals as therapies and nutritious sources of food, Arboretum and other state leaders are paving a new parkway to good jobs, improved living standards and enhanced protection of natural resources for Western North Carolina residents.

Note: Veteran journalist Jim Shamp is director of public relations for the North Carolina Biotechnology Center.

(C) NC Biotechnology Center