David Morken can testify to why North Carolina has persisted as the No. 3 state in Chief Executive’s “Best and Worst States for Business” for many years. The reasons start with the Research Triangle in the Piedmont region that encompasses a handful of colleges and universities – and many companies that have sprung up from their graduates or with the schools’ involvement.
Morken’s primary company, Bandwidth, is a software outfit that boasts clients including Google and Skype and announced an IPO in November. Morken founded Bandwidth in 2007, while on military leave and relocated his office from Utah to the Raleigh area to take advantage of the talent.
“I’m not a native of North Carolina, and many of us in the Research Triangle aren’t,” Morken told Chief Executive. “But what’s most important to me as founder of a business here is two things. One is that there are lots of aggressive young students coming out of University of North Carolina, Duke, Wake Forest and other schools – they are numerous, and literate, and collaborative, and fantastic.”
“And the second is that there’s a pool of PhDs from Sony, Cisco and the pharma industry doing IT work, providing great senior technical business leadership.”
Morken admires how the Research Triangle grew deliberately out of a half-century of development work. “There was nothing here originally to draw large tech businesses,” he said. “It was a collaborative effort, carving out a huge chunk of property and providing tax and land incentives to attract some of the greatest companies in the country to come here instead of going somewhere else.”
Morken said that Research Triangle continues to try to stay ahead of the competition with initiatives such as the early-stage incubation efforts of the Goodmon family, which owns Capitol Broadcasting Company and has developed a handful of startup hubs in the area.
“We don’t have a huge amount of risk capital locally, so that kind of effort to nurture small companies here is crucial,” Morken said.
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