Raleigh real estate mogul John Kane and the board of the Research Triangle Regional Partnership have not only selected a new CEO but also embarked on a new mission: Marketing and support rather than a more direct involvement in economic recruiting and development.

The board selected Ryan Combs, who at one time was an aide to U.S. Senator Richard Burr, to replace Charles Hayes as CEO. Hayes retired last year.

Here’s how Kane, who has been the driving force behind the reshaping of Raleigh’s North Hills intoa booming mix of commercial and real estate development, explains the decision to hire Combs and what the board sees as the new mission of the RTRP. In the past RTRP helped recruit companies, created several programs focusing on “clusters” of technology such as its Cleantech Cluster, and published a variety of economic data.

  • What qualities made Ryan your selection to lead the organization?

He has a strong presence in the room.

He presents himself very well and is comfortable with any audience.

  • What in his background leads you and the board to believe that he can spearhead an organization focused on economic development?

The new focus of RTRP is branding and marketing.

He is an excellent communicator and relates well to rural or sophisticated urban audiences

  • How does his selection help explain the direction in which you and the board are taking as the mission of the RTRP? This appears to be different from the past? Why make these changes?

Branding and Marketing.

New website, better social media presence.

We need an excellent communicator and that is Ryan.

[In an interview with David Ranii of The News and Observer, Kane noted that because of the Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina created under former Gov. Pat McCrory works with local economic, “we don’t need to be in that space any longer.”]

  • With a new leader in place, what other positions remained to be filled? When?

Marketing, Support

  • Finally, how would you/the board explain the mission of the RTRP under its new leadership?

Branding and Marketing