Ted Abernathy


Ted Abernathy, Managing Partner of Economic Leadership LLC, and the Economic Policy Advisor to the Southern Governors' Association, spent the first 29 years of his career as an economic development director for city, county and regional economic development programs. He has been responsible for new company and international recruitment, small business support, marketing, tourism development, workforce development and downtown revitalization. From 2001-2008 he served as the Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of the Research Triangle Regional Partnership, a private non-profit economic development organization responsible for marketing a 13-county region of North Carolina that is consistently ranked as one of the most competitive regions in the world.

In the spring of 2004 Ted authored Staying On Top- Winning the Job Wars of the Future, recognized by the U.S. Department of Commerce as the best new regional competitiveness strategy. Ted was responsible for implementing the successful plan and it won the IEDC's first award for collaborative models.

As Executive Director of the Southern Growth Policies Board from 2008-2013 Ted has worked in dozens of communities across the South. Projects have ranged from community economic development plans like Madison County Kentucky to collaboration engagements in Arkansas, to multi-state cluster networks in advanced materials.  Ted speaks to close to 100 groups annually on topics from leadership collaboration to urban competitiveness. 

Ted has recently launched a new personal venture, Economic Leadership LLC. Economic Leadership will focus on helping the leadership of organizations position their strategies and actions to meet their goals. Initial projects include the development of a new economic development strategy for the North Carolina Economic Development Board, an organizational competitiveness assessment for Harrison County Mississippi, a capital formation strategy for the Piedmont Triad partnership, and a demand-driven workforce assessment for the Durham Chamber of Commerce.

Born in Dallas, North Carolina, Ted received his bachelor’s degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; his Master’s from Johns Hopkins University, is a graduate of the Economic Development Institute and is an Eisenhower Fellow for global economics.



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