Durham County December 2021

Population
316,934

County Seat
Durham

Median Income
$60,958

Population Density Designation
Urban

The first stop in Durham County was Durham Technical Community College, where we met with faculty, staff and President J.B. Buxton.

President Buxton noted Durham’s exponential growth, due in part to the influx of pharmaceutical, technology and other high-skill jobs within the city and in the Research Triangle Park. Yet, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, 14 percent of Durham residents live in poverty.

Knowing this, President Buxton highlighted the school’s goal to create “positive economic impact in the area by placing 80 percent of graduates in jobs that meet or exceed median earnings within the field.” Durham Tech’s mission goes beyond growing the student population – rather than measuring success via course and degree completion, the school is focused on improving economic and social mobility for students and their families. They prepare students to pursue jobs that will harness their talents and skills while providing them with a living wage and financial security. Many of these jobs lie within the medical field, making them especially attainable for Durham Tech students, as the Triangle is home to several major health systems and a growing number of private clinics.

Our team toured Durham Tech’s Community Mobile Health Lab. Funded by Blue Cross NC, the mobile lab provides eye and dental care for underserved members of Durham and Orange Counties. Students use the lab for training and community outreach. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the lab provided basic medical care to communities. It is through these partnerships that we provide students with access to affordable education and better employment opportunities, which all lead to community growth.

The group’s last stop at Durham Tech was the new Makerspace, where students will work firsthand with 3-D printers, precision lasers, computer-assisted milling machines and other cutting-edge technology in labs that foster innovation.

Not far from Durham Tech’s campus, our next stop was North Carolina Central University, where we connected with Chancellor Johnson Akinleye and faculty. The Chancellor noted the proud history of NC Central – celebrating 111 years in 2021 – and highlighted the school’s focus on research, including health disparities. We toured the campus and saw several new residence halls and the new state-of-the-art Student Center.

While on campus, we met with several leaders from Durham’s nonprofit community who are working hard to improve the region and support fellow residents. Our team heard from leaders representing the Boys & Girls Clubs of Durham & Orange Counties, El Centro Hispano, Durham Children’s Initiative and Made in Durham about their efforts to support the county’s underserved children and families, improve educational attainment and advocate for the Latino community. These partners noted that the pandemic exacerbated many of the disparities their clients face, including lack of secure access to health care, housing, food and transportation. They are working each day to improve the Durham community in long-term, sustainable ways.

Our day wrapped with a discussion about Durham’s economic and business development. Hosted by the Greater Durham Chamber of Commerce, we met with business leaders representing the American Tobacco Campus, RTP Foundation and Durham County. When discussing Durham’s extraordinary growth, the panel members noted the opportunity to create a unified regional approach that would engage Wake and Orange Counties in efforts to grow the region in a responsible, forward-thinking way. The group talked about the need for talent to fill the growing number of jobs, the need for affordable inclusionary housing, and how residents and businesses can champion Durham’s growth while remembering and honoring its rich, diverse history.

Meet Dr. Algie Gatewood

Dr. Algie Gatewood is only the fourth President to lead Alamance Community College (ACC) since it opened in 1958. During Dr. Gatewood’s tenure at ACC, the college won its largest ever bond referendum – nearly $40 million – in 2018 to fund a number of major capital projects and expansions. The college also secured $16 million in county funding in 2014 to build the Advanced Applied Technology Center. Other notable accomplishments include creating a Biotechnology Center of Excellence, introducing an Early College, facilitating an apprenticeship program, and introducing nearly two dozen new academic programs and articulation agreements with state universities.

U39702, 12/21