News

Research Triangle Region’s New Investments Top $1.5 Billion, 6,600 Jobs in 2010


Research Triangle Region, N.C. (May 26, 2011) – Research Triangle Region companies announced $1.5 billion in capital investments and more than 6,600 jobs during 2010. Another $243 million in investments and 1,400 jobs were announced during the first quarter of 2011.

“Our diverse, innovation-based economy makes this region one of the most resilient in the world. Growing companies continue to respond by choosing our region to build their future,” Charles A. Hayes, president and CEO of the Research Triangle Regional Partnership (RTRP), reported at the 2011 State of the Research Triangle Region event on May 26. RTRP hosted the annual economic update forum with naming sponsor IBM.

Regional employment slid by 2,827 in 2010 as companies made their arduous climb to recovery following the 2009 global recession. However, three of the region’s 13 counties posted employment gains during the period: Lee (309 jobs), Moore (181) and Vance (138).

“The fact that our employment dipped only slightly this year combined with the many positive economic indicators we’ve seen in recent months, clearly demonstrates the strength of our region’s economy,” Hayes said.

The Research Triangle Region – home of The Research Triangle Park™ (RTP) and the 13 north-central N.C. counties of Chatham, Durham, Franklin, Granville, Harnett, Johnston, Lee, Moore, Orange, Person, Vance, Wake and Warren – was the only one of the state’s seven economic development regions to post a net employment gain (32,817) from 2005 to 2010.

Targeted Life Science and Technology Clusters Lead Investments

The region’s new investments came from companies in a range of industries in both rural and urban areas. Most significant was the growth of companies in the region’s 12 targeted clusters the handful of life science and technology clusters for which the region is a world leader, or has the potential to be, based on its capacity to innovate and commercialize discoveries. More than 85 percent of the $4.6 billion in capital investments and 70 percent of the 18,569 jobs announced between January 1, 2009 and March 31, 2011 came from companies in those clusters.

“These results affirm the cluster-based economic development approach we’ve taken since we first launched our regional economic development strategy in 2004,” Hayes said.

Recent announcements came from such sector leaders as:

  • Red Hat, world leader in open source software solutions, which chose to remain in the region and expand its global headquarters in Wake County, adding 540 jobs and $109 million in investment, because of the talent the region offers.
  • HTC Corp., leader in Smartphone design, opening an R&D office with 45 researchers in Durham County to conduct research on innovations in wireless technology.
  • Coty, global beauty products giant, spending $12 million to expand its production lines in Lee County, creating 140 jobs.

A new emerging cluster, “Cleantech,” made great strides in 2010. This critical mass of researchers, 200-plus companies and support organizations focus on innovations in smart grid, advanced transportation and alternative energy.

Among the Cleantech investments:

  • Cree, world leader in LED lighting, with a $392 million expansion, creating 330 new jobs to meet growing global demand for its energy-saving products.
  • Becton, Dickinson and Company, a leading medical device and products maker, building its $38 million East Coast distribution center in Johnston County, creating 187 jobs.
  • Eaton, diversified industrial manufacturer, with a $23 million expansion of its Person County plant, creating 120 jobs to build energy-efficient engine components for automotive customers worldwide.
  • Siemens Energy, global supplier of products and services for the generation, transmission and distribution of electric power, planning a $2.9 million expansion of its plant in Wendell, a rural community in Wake County, creating 139 jobs.
  • Uniboard, which opened its $140 million expanded wood paneling plant in Chatham County, creating 104 jobs and the company’s largest and most technologically advanced fiberboard plant in North America.

Strategic Initiatives Yield Results

RTRP moved during the past year on key action steps in its five-year strategic plan, The Shape of Things to Come. The plan aims to create 100,000 jobs and boost employment in all 13 counties by July 2014 using a three-part strategy of business growth, product development and regional collaboration.

RTRP implements the plan with partners from its 13 member counties, RTP, the N.C. Department of Commerce and dozens of business, government, academic and nonprofit organizations.

Cleantech cluster launched. RTRP launched a regional cluster network and joined the International Cleantech Network, the elite corps of cluster managers working to propel the sector’s growth worldwide. The region boasts N.C. State University's FREEDM Systems Center, which is transforming the nation’s electric power grid into a smart grid to store and distribute renewable energy. The Biofuels Center of North Carolina, located in Granville County, is helping the state achieve its alternative energy goals. Warren County recently announced plans to develop a greentech campus, the first agricultural biotechnology park in the nation powered completely by alternative energy sources.

Sustainability cluster launched. RTRP created a new sustainability cluster from the work of Triangle Tomorrow and Reality Check. The cluster includes researchers, companies and organizations focused on keeping the region green, clean and sustainable. A January summit explored ways that open space planning can promote quality growth and economic development.

Entrepreneurship networks expanded. Several new initiatives are helping regional entrepreneurs launch and grow startups. Durham opened American Tobacco Underground, an incubator for technology startups, and launched Bull City Startup Stampede, an initiative to attract and scale more startups downtown. Chatham, Lee and Harnett counties teamed to form TriSouth Entrepreneur Network with grant funding from the N.C. Rural Economic Development Center. It provides a Web portal and networking events for entrepreneurs and small business owners. Orange County, in collaboration with Alamance, Chatham and Durham counties, is preparing to open the Piedmont Food & Agricultural Processing Center (PFAP) in June.

The business incubator for food entrepreneurs and farmers will focus on adding value to local farm products and creating new local food businesses.

Career and Technical Education linked to job growth. RTRP worked with Career and Technical Education partners across the state to map and align curricula with job skills that match the expected jobs of the future. They educated teachers on the targeted clusters growing in each region and worked with them to develop core competencies to prepare students.

RDU opens state-of-the-art terminal. The region’s international airport completed its newest passenger facility, Terminal 2. The first phase of the terminal opened in October 2008. The second phase welcomed Continental Airlines and US Airways from Terminal 1. The new terminal features more than 40 restaurants and shops, a meet-and-greet area and seven art installations. Plans for renovating Terminal 1 are under way.

Rural development advanced. Triangle North, the network of business parks created by county governments in four northern-tier counties (Franklin, Granville, Vance and Warren) landed its first tenant. U.S. Growers Direct, a commodities marketing and distribution company, is building a $3.75 million global distribution center at Triangle North Franklin, creating 10-15 full-time jobs and 40 seasonal ones. Developers in the southern tier (Harnett, Lee and Moore counties) sponsored the North Carolina reception at the Association of the U.S. Army defense trade show in Washington, D.C., part of their work to grow the region’s defense technology cluster in partnership with Fort Bragg Regional Alliance (formerly Base Realignment and Closure Regional Task Force).

Redesigned Web site launched. RTRP’s new Web site (www.researchtriangle.org) supports the region’s brand, offers key data and information for businesses to make location decisions, and provides an online marketing resource for partners.

“Companies and site selection consultants often narrow their short list of potential locations using online data before anyone even knows they are looking for a site,” Hayes said. “Our new Web site is designed intentionally to help visitors see quickly and clearly why this region is one of the best places in the world for innovative companies to locate and grow.”

The Research Triangle Regional Partnership (RTRP) is a public-private partnership that coordinates economic development for the Research Triangle Region, home of The Research Triangle Park and the 13 central-North Carolina counties of Chatham, Durham, Franklin, Granville, Harnett, Johnston, Lee, Moore, Orange, Person, Vance, Wake and Warren. For more information, visit www.researchtriangle.org or contact RTRP at (919) 840-7372 or rtrp@researchtriangle.org.

# # #

Contact: Charles Hayes, (919) 840-7372, ext. 12