To some people outside North Carolina, the Research Triangle Park, or RTP, is what made Wake County famous. Going back to when Wake was established in 1959, most people knew it only as the county that was home to the state’s capital and the location of N.C. State University.
Then the Park arrived. IBM and other big names moved to the area in the 1960s and 1970s, and soon many graduates of N.C. State stayed in Wake County to commute the 10-20 miles west to go to work in information technology and other fields far more diverse than the traditional agriculture, textiles, tobacco and furniture industries that had dominated North Carolina’s economy. More people came to work and live in Wake too, and their efforts made RTP the largest research park in America and lifted Wake to rank among the 100 most populated counties in America.
Even though most of RTP’s 7,000 acres lies within Durham County, a good portion of its nearly 60,000 employees live in Wake. The county and RTP are the same in many people’s minds.
And even though the Park has suffered somewhat during the current recession, its research and development firms have been more resilient in weathering the storm than other industries. Its brand name, so to speak, is so famous that the N.C. Research Parks Network was established to duplicate its success. One of this network’s parks is Centennial Campus at N.C. State University.
At Wake County Economic Development, we are pursuing efforts to expand biotechnology activity in the county as a natural complement to much of the work being done at RTP. We think this synergy will propel both the Park and Wake to 50 more successful years of economic growth.