Editor’s note: Tom Snyder is executive director of RIOT, the North Carolina-based Regional Internet of Things users group.

RALEIGH – It was a big week in North Carolina.  It’s hard to say which was the bigger announcement – IBM’s $34 billion dollar acquisition of Red Hat, or the $1.25 billion fundraise and $15 billion valuation of Epic Games.  And when the measures are in the billions, the distinction of “bigger” isn’t that meaningful anyway.

While those headline grabbing deals put North Carolina in the international spotlight, there are plenty of other indicators that demonstrate the state will remain in the spotlight for years to come.

RIoT photo

Tom Snyder, RIoT executive director

I have the great privilege to travel extensively for my job.  I meet regularly with cities and economic developers around the US and with companies from around the world.  In the same week that IBM, Red Hat and Epic Games made news, there was tremendous energy fueling technology job growth across North Carolina.

Wilson has become an unlikely leader in proving nationally that smaller municipalities can create and grow a tech economy.  The 3rd annual GigEast event drew its largest crowd ever with speakers on blockchain and from Singularity University.  A new innovation hub was announced that provides resources and workspace for startups and is a permanent gathering point for collaboration.

Less than an hour to the west, NC State held their signature Smart Cities Summit event.  I met attendees from as far as Atlanta and Boston and Nevada who came to learn from successful NC municipalities.  Three Triangle-based companies on a showcased panel completed eight-figure fundraises within the past 12 months.

Further west in High Point, an energetic gathering of local business, government and university leaders spent a day sharing best practices in economic development, affordable housing and capitalizing on the Internet of Things that drives the data economy.  Sixty entrepreneurs gathered in Asheville for the largest HatchThis event to date.  They’re spending this weekend building new tech products and businesses with the support and advisement of over 300 attendees and experts.

Aside from occurring in the same week, the common denominator for all these events was the focus on doubling down on the strong foundation already in the state.  There is not a hope that North Carolina will have more headline grabbing announcements, but an expectation of it.  The state has staked a claim as the leader of the data economy.  The claim is validated through demonstrated energy and activity beyond the large tech hubs and into smaller communities.

If cross-state collaboration continues, we should expect North Carolina to remain in the news for years to come.

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