Steve Rao

Title: Council Member

Municipality: Town of Morrisville

Position Interested In: Elected Official At-Large

Tell us why you would like to serve in a leadership position at the League. In particular, specify goals you would like to accomplish as an officer or board member and indicate how, if attained, they will help to achieve Vision 2030 – the League’s future vision of how cities and towns will operate in 2030.

I would like to serve as a Board Member, as I believe that I would bring the much needed private and public sector Technology experience, which we will need as we prepare our state for the future. Automation will displace over 40% of the jobs we know of today.

My economic development experience can also look at how our Towns can strengthen their entrepreneurship and innovation ecosystems so we can create new jobs around emerging technology areas, like Artificial Intelligence, Robotics, Cybserecurity, Data Science, etc.

As a Board Member of the NCLM, I would make it my top priority to focus on how we can empower all Towns and Cities in NC to keep up with the rapid pace of technological innovation, not only as a way to provide more efficient delivery of services but also in how we prepare for the new jobs of the new economy.

 

  • Goal 1: Establish a Vision 2030 Smart City/IOT, and Innovation Task Force (comprised of Technology Leaders, Government Leaders and NCLM Staff members)

  • Goal 2: Advocate for a $150 million increase in Broadband funding to NC Municipalities.

  • Goal 3: Work with Community College System to identify a new job/new skill dashboard so we can be prepared the displacement of traditional jobs and successfully train and retrain our workforce

  • Goal 4: Establish a Cyber Security Subcommittee which will meet with the NC Dept. of Information Technology at least once per quarter, making sure that we are benchmarking and streamlining the protection of our data, and digital assets.

  • Goal 5: Establish a Global Pandemic Task Force to better prepare Local Governments for future pandemics. (Health Care providers, League Members, and Technology Providers)

  • Goal 6: Invite the North Carolina Military Employment (NC4ME) to host career fairs for our Veterans, and help the League Members play a more active role in putting our Veterans back to work.


At the end of the day, my goals do reflect a focus on the technology and infrastructure investment aspects of Vision 2030.

Tell us about your experience as a municipal official. You may want to include information on your service on the municipal governing body, other related boards and special areas of interest.

Since 2011, I have had the honor of serving on the Town Council of Morrisville, as an At Large Council Member and as Mayor Pro Tem from 2015- 2017.

During this time, I have held numerous leadership positions: Morrisville Mayor Pro Tem from 2015-2017, Triangle J Council of Governments Board of Delegates member and alternate and Triangle J Smart Growth Committee Co Chair. In each role, it has been an honor to serve one of the fastest growing municipalities in North Carolina, and the citizens of the Triangle region.

During my tenure on the Council, I have worked with my Council and NC DOT to execute on major transportation projects and to secure over $300 million of DOT funding to State Roads in Morrisville. I have helped establish our Smart City, Cybersecurity and Open Data intiatives, which are now in place, so we can better leverage the Internet of Things/Sensors/Data to increase the quality of services we provide to citizens, and to push our Town to keep up with rapid pace of technological innovation taking place in the digital economy.

 

Wearing my economic development hat, I have worked with our Chamber to establish a growing Start Up Incubator, Hottovation, worked with our Council and NC Commerce to grow jobs in Morrisville, most recently Syneos Health, Relias Learning, and Microsoft, and have hosted Town Hall Visits with a number of Cabinet Secretaries, including Secretary of Technology, Eric Boyette, EDPNC CEO, Chris Chung, and Scott Levitan, CEO of the RTP Foundation. Last year, I represented North Carolina with NC Secretary of State Elaine Marshall in Kolkata, India at the Bengal Global Business Summitt, working to strengthen trade and investment between India and North Carolina.

Finally, in addition to participating with my Council at the NCLM Town Hall Days, I have developed working relationships with leaders in the NC House and Senate, advocating for a progressive Legislative Agenda for the Town of Morrisville. I did work with our Council over the years to advance local bills, our greatest achievement was a Multi family Parkland PIL fund (charging a per unit fee for multi family development which could go to fund parks, greenways, etc.)

Tell us about your educational background, professional experience, and/or community or civic activities. 

I received a BA from Emory University in 1992 in Political Science and a JD Degree from the West Virginia University College of Law.

In my career, I have served in Business Development roles, and today, drive our Innovation Strategy for Alphanumeric Systems, a global technology company, headquartered in Raleigh, NC. I intend to bring this private sector experience to the NCLM as I bring this experience every day to my role on the Morrisville Town Council.

In 2015, I was appointed to the New American Economy Board, a bi partisan coalition of Mayors and Business Leaders, focused on comprehensive immigration reform. Former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg chairs this organization. In this role, I am working with the US Congress and Senate and immigrant communities in NC and the United States on an immigration bill. I also speak on radio and have done a number of Television experiences

I am proud to be the longest serving Asian American in North Carolina, elected in 2011. Last year, I represented North Carolina with Secretary of State Elaine Marshall and Morrisville Mayor TJ Cawley at the Global Bengal Business Summit.

I have served as a Charter Member/Mentor for TIE Carolinas, a global entrepreneurship organization.

In my free time, I volunteer for Veterans, and now serve as a Board Member for the NC Vet Biz Association, a organization focused on assisting Veteran entrepreneurs and Small Businesses.

Finally, I co chair the Smart Growth Committee for the Triangle J Council of Governments.

The unexpected twist in my career is that I now serve as a Radio Host/Commentator. I host Mirchi's Leaders, on the Triangle Regions' largest South Asian Radio Station, where I can share leadership perspectives with many cities and Towns. We get over 50,000 listeners per month. Recently, I just joined as a Political Commentator on Get With the Program with Gary Jones, on 103.5 FM.

Have You Participated in Any NCLM Events or Committees? 

  • CityVision Annual Conference

  • Town & State Dinner or Town Hall Days

  • Advocacy Goals Conference

  • Legislative Lobby Days

Please provide any other information you would like the Nominations Committee to consider.

I intend to bring my nine years of local government experience, along with my leadership in technology, transportation, and economic development to the NCLM Board.

Most importantly, I do look forward to bring my public and private experience in technology, to help our League Members keep up with the rapid pace of technological innovation. Experience in Artificial Intelligence, Cybersecurity, Data Science and other disruptive technologies will be critical in how we create jobs for the new economy, and also respond to future pandemics like Covid 19.

I thank each of you for your dedicated service to your constituents and for doing your part for making our towns and cities as vibrant and strong as they can be. I also thank Paul Meyer, the Board and the NCLM Staff for their hard work for all League Members.

As in the words of former NC Governor Jim Hunt, our unity will make North Carolina not only what it can be but all that it must be and all that it should be.

Thanks for your consideration.

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