Higgs stepping down as head of N.C. Research Campus

Published 1:28 pm Tuesday, September 15, 2015

KANNAPOLIS — A few months after taking over operations at the North Carolina Research Campus, Clyde Higgs is leaving to be the chief operating officer of a multi-million dollar project in Atlanta.

Earlier this year, Higgs became the executive vice president of operations and business development after several years at the research campus. Though his title was different, Higgs replaced Lynne Scott Safrit, who was an integral part of the research campus’ development and resigned from her position in April. Now, Higgs will oversee an Atlanta project that aims to improve transportation in Atlanta through a series of parks, trails, roads and rail lines. He is expected to continue in his current role at the research campus until the end of this month.

“It has been an honor to work on such an amazing project with real power to be transformational,” Higgs said in an announcement about his new job. “I’m proud that I’ve been part of the original team here, and I am confident that great things are to come.”

Higgs joined the NCRC in 2006. For nine years, he led the economic development recruitment of the campus’ 20 partners, which include major universities as well as international food companies such as General Mills. He recently led the negotiation of the sale of Cannon Village — downtown Kannapolis — which is adjacent to the North Carolina Research Campus.

No replacement has been named for Higgs. A search is underway.

In an announcement about Higgs’ hiring, president and CEO of Atlanta BeltLine Paul Morris said Higgs was the best choice for vice president and chief operating officer.

“His extensive experience leading day-to-day operations of the internationally recognized Kannapolis Project, along with his unique expertise in consensus building, grants, economic development and technology innovation, will be an invaluable asset as we continue to advance the Atlanta BeltLine to fruition,” Morris said.

In the Atlanta BeltLine announcement, the organization said Higgs would provide oversight of the economic development, design and construction, program management, housing, procurement and human resources activities. Higgs will also lend breadth and capability to establishing and expanding the Atlanta BeltLine’s working relationships with private and public partners across the region, state and nation, according to a news release.

The Atlanta BeltLine project includes 22 miles of rail transit, 33 miles of trails, 1,300 acres of parks, 5,600 housing units, 1,100 acres of brownfields remediated, an estimated 30,000 permanent jobs, 48,000 construction jobs, public art and historic preservation. Its estimated completion date is 2030.

Higgs is a graduate of the University of South Alabama and also holds a graduate degree in public administration from East Carolina University. He has served on numerous boards and professional organizations, including two gubernatorial appointments by former Texas Governor Rick Perry to the Texas Emerging Technology Venture Fund for early stage companies working on innovations in the fields of biotechnology, healthcare, energy and information technology. Higgs was also appointed by former North Carolina Governor Beverly Perdue to the State Board of Community Colleges.

Contact reporter Josh Bergeron at 704-797-4246.