Spatula

Raleigh's branding

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Here's a topic that I think the city leaders of Raleigh should consider more seriously in the future.

 

Outside the state, Raleigh's image is often that of a sleepy suburban town full of office parks and chains. It's known for its sprawl in the 90s, which lead to the city's huge increase in population. It's generally seen as having a small downtown for its size and only trace amounts of a nightlife. Generally, it's considered a boring place.

 

Despite some of these negative views from outsiders the city has grown rapidly anyway. But I'm concerned if city leaders don't take significant measures to try to rebrand the place in the coming years, this false image will begin to have a severely negative effect in the long run. Young professionals are more interested in urban places than previous generations were, and they're going to increasingly view Raleigh's good economic numbers on paper as trivial. Raleigh will start feeling a lot of pressure from Richmond and Nashville--nearby cities perceived as more urban while having similar advantages.

 

While Durham has managed to attract some credit as a funky, vibrant place outside the region, Raleigh hasn't. I think the vibrancy is definitely an area that's improving. But what to do about the funk? Vibrancy without flavor--vibrancy that plays it safe is just... well... Charlotte.

 

The city needs to do something audacious on a national scale. I've given it some thought, and I think the easiest and most straightforward way to bring press to Raleigh's social attitudes and cause people to think of it as more than a bedroom community is this:

 

The city should decriminalize marijuana within its municipal boundaries, much like Denver did several years ago before the rest of Colorado legalized it in 2012.

 

 

 

NC has always been behind the curve as a state, but the Triangle is an oddity, both in the state and in the south. And while Raleigh is perceived by many as not sharing the same progressive streak as Durham and Chapel Hill, it was Raleigh that became the first major city in the south with a white majority to elect a black mayor. Raleigh also carried the bulk of the Triangle's music scene up to the 80s. Reopening the Village Subway would be another major priority I'd recommend. I suppose the other thing would be to establish legal protection for LGBT employees, which is still a battle being fought. The city does have employment protections for public employees, just not private ones. Columbia, SC has that. Columbia. Unless something changed and I didn't get the memo, Raleigh does not.

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The Chamber needs to be revamped for starters-it's full of a bunch of old codgers who still pine for the Mayberry days. Thank god Harvey Schmitt is finally stepping down. I would hope that some of the tech leaders, restauranteurs, etc. etc. take a bigger role in the operations of the organization that shapes the perception of the city.  

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Outside the state, Raleigh's image is often that of a sleepy suburban town full of office parks and chains.

 

I don't exactly agree with this. I travel extensively, and the common perception that I encounter by outsiders that don't know the area well tends to be that Raleigh is a major city that is booming. However, when some of those outsiders actually spend time here, some find it lacking while others find it a charming city with a lot of potential.

 

I do agree that Raleigh needs to "grow" into the city that it has become because of explosive population growth. This is the major challenge of the city leaders and they are aware of this. What's actually being done about it is a different story. I think to a certain extent their ability to become more progressive is hindered by the status quo.

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