Sports and tech

by YES! Staff

With much pageantry and fanfare, the Joint School of Nanoscience and Nanoengineering came to life last week in east Greensboro.

The school, a collaboration between UNCG and NC A&T University, will offer graduate programs in the field: the study of matter at the sub-atomic level.

Nanoscience can be applied to almost any industry: healthcare, technology, clothing, sporting goods. The school will be undeniably good for the city. It will create jobs and spur industry in an area desperately in need of new ideas as our traditional economic drivers wither.

That the facility exists in a traditionally downtrodden part of town is no accident — that’s where the schools are — but it’s as important geographically as it is symbolically: A cluster of lakes border Greensboro to the northwest; High Point crowds against the southeast corner and the south has filled out to Interstate 85. The only place for growth is to the east, which will be neatly lassoed by the urban loop over the next few years. If the region develops the way Research Triangle Park did a short hop further east — and the project’s boosters are convinced it will — the facility will shape life in the Triad for generations to come.

Science and technology are good bets for our future — the nanoscience school comes as Winston-Salem makes a name for itself in the field of bioengineering, with a research park capable of building organs suitable for transplant into humans. But that’s not all we’ve got cooking.

A very different event held in Greensboro last week sets a fine example of another developing pillar in our economy.

On Dec. 4, Gate City Lanes held the 2011 Special Olympics NC Central Bowling Tournament. It’s a big deal because the Special Olympics is one of the most poignant and inspiring sporting events there is. It’s also good for business: The event drew 800 athletes, 300 coaches, hundreds of volunteers, families and friends.

This is but one of dozens, even hundreds of mid-level sporting events that take place in the Triad, from youth soccer to bullriding to ping-pong tournaments to Olympic-level synchronized swimming, not to mention a healthy slate of professional and college events, adding prestige to the Triad and fueling a modest tourism industry.

This is how a region hit hard with loss of jobs and industry rebuilds: not by looking to the things that sustained it in the past, but by developing existing resources, welcoming new ideas and making smart investments.

Of course, there are no guarantees. But it’s good that we’re getting some pieces on the board and putting them in play.

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