the ecU Report
20,000 jobs arrive via Highway 17 The huge investment the state has made in four-laning U.S. Highway 17 is paying big dividends for eastern North Carolina, according to an ECU study showing that every dollar the state spent on the roadway has generated nearly three dollars in direct output and earnings and created more than 20,000 jobs. Since 1989 the state Department of Transportation has spent $2.43 billion upgrading Highway 17, eastern North Carolina’s major north-south transportation artery that stretches 300 miles from the Virginia border to Wilmington. In that time, more than $5.5 billion in output was produced by the region’s construction sector, resulting in more than $1 billion in earnings, said Mulatu Wubneh, chair of ECU’s Urban and Regional Planning Department, who led the study. Construction workers earned $600 million during the period studied. “We were asked to find out what did the state get back in return for its investment,” Wubneh said. “This study shows that the investment in infrastructure has a multiplier effect that continues to grow over time and generates additional benefits to the region.” ECU conducted the study at request of the Highway 17 Association, an alliance of businesses in the region.
While the costs for materials, labor and expenditures can be quantified, Wubneh said, other benefits from the highway improvements can’t be quantified, including improved safety, reduced travel time and lower transportation costs. “These benefits are present but we cannot assign them dollar values,” he said. Fifty miles of Highway 17 still are only two lanes and other sections of the road remain in need of upgrading. —Erica Plouffe Lazure Shaping leaders Brad Congleton is vice president of the student body, an office he feels sure he never would have sought successfully if he hadn’t spent a week at ECU’s Leadership Institute. “Attending LeaderShape was the difference maker in my life,” says Congleton, a senior from Wendell. “Before going, I thought I knew who I was, and what I wanted to do. I learned quickly that becoming a successful leader you must stay committed. I was searching for an easy road, but the program taught me that being a leader is a daily job and sometimes it’s very challenging.” Each year, up to 60 students like Congleton have the opportunity to attend LeaderShape, a weeklong intensive leadership camp that teaches
a “healthy disregard for the impossible.” The ECU office that supervises LeaderShape is making plans for a third annual retreat in August, either on campus or at an outside site. The previous two sessions were held over spring break at Camp Carraway in Asheville. Any ECU student with at least a 2.5 GPA can apply for the program, which uses an interactive approach with an emphasis on small groups, problem solving and community building exercises. Halfway through the week, each participant develops a “Leadership Breakthrough Blueprint” in which they define a specific leadership goal they hope to achieve within the ECU campus community. Camp participants explore topics around a theme like “The Value of One, The Power of All” and “Living and Leading with Integrity.” It’s not a week of leisure by any stretch, said Krista Wilhelm, assistant director of the Center for Student Leadership and Civic Engagement and the coordinator for ECU LeaderShape. “It’s intensive,” Wilhelm says. “It’s almost like leadership boot camp.” “I enjoyed how you moved around a good amount,” says Tiffany Mills, a senior from Hertford who attended in 2007 along with Congleton; both returned to the camp as program assistants last spring. After they complete the program, LeaderShape graduates receive continuing encouragement from the ECU LeaderShape Society, which meets throughout the school year and reinforces the principles taught at the retreat. Students who are accepted to the August session of LeaderShape will be asked to make a nonrefundable deposit of $100, but campus organizations and local businesses are encouraged to sponsor a student who might not otherwise be able to attend. Anyone interested in sponsoring a student or donating to LeaderShape can contact Wilhelm at email@example.com. —Bethany Bradsher
Published on May 8, 2009