by Abbey Slattery
The life sciences industry has long had a strong presence in the Triangle, with the Raleigh-Durham area ranking fifth in the nation for life sciences last year, according to CBRE’s annual report.
Since the beginning of 2020, the industrial and life sciences areas of the Triangle have continued to experience steady growth. Despite many companies focusing on Research Triangle Park in the past, activity is expanding to nearby, up-and-coming hubs like Sanford and Nash County. More specifically, manufacturing companies are leading the influx of this activity that the area is experiencing.
“Over the past few years, we have seen an increase in demand for cGMP (Current Good Manufacturing Practices) space by cell and gene therapy companies. The market has experienced several announcements in the last 12 months by companies growing their presence here. Several of the contributing factors to those recent announcements include the area’s more affordable cost of real estate, our overall growing market, and our strong academic institutions and deep talent pool,” said Ann-Stewart Patterson, a first vice president for CBRE|Raleigh’s Advisory and Transactions Services, Industrial & Logistics team. “We’re seeing an influx from manufacturing companies where historically most activity was coming from research and development.”
She added, “North Carolina provides strong incentives for these companies to locate here, but with that growth, we are seeing supply constraints.”
Over the past year, general interest in both residential and commercial real estate in the Triangle area has skyrocketed, especially following the announcement of FUJIFILM Diosynth Biotechnologies investing $2 billion in Wake County and CARsgen Therapeutics Corporation investing $157 million in Durham.
Both companies focus on cutting-edge life sciences and manufacturing that utilize cell cultures and gene therapies, further solidifying the state’s footprint in both industries.
“We’ve had a significant amount of investments in our market over the last few years, and we’ve had a significant amount of jobs announced — I see that as continuing without pause,” said Patterson. “As more and more of these startups go into clinical trials, they’ll need to start manufacturing, as well. There’s so much more of that demand, and it all comes down to finding a place to land in our market.”
Not only does the Triangle area offer a lower cost of operation for industrial and life science companies compared to other hubs across the country, but the strong academic environment makes it simpler to train a workforce for roles on every level of operation.
“One of the biggest draws is academia, coupled with real estate costs. Not only do we have education from a PhD level through the University of Chapel Hill or North Carolina State University, but we also have a very strong community college program,” said Patterson. “From every level of education, the academic environment in the Triangle is instrumental in being able to supply these companies with employees.”
For smaller companies and startups looking to get a foothold in the area, establishing a base in a more affordable suburb could save on some initial costs without sacrificing proximity to academia and other large industry and life sciences companies.
In fact, Patterson already sees this shift catching on — and anticipates that it could be the next big trend for industrial and life sciences companies in the area.
“Instead of looking in the heart of RTP, we’ll likely see companies continue going further and further out. Companies are pushing to the peripherals where land is going to be less expensive, and we also have the infrastructure in place for people to commute from any direction,” said Patterson. “We’ve already seen that shift happening with Audentes and Abzena in Sanford and companies expanding to the Clayton and Wilson areas. These companies don’t have to be located within RTP, so I think we’ll see a lot of growth around the Triangle in our market.”
Original Source: WRAL TechWire