Triangle leaders gather to discuss recent economic development wins, future of RTP

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by Jason Parker 

Wake County and Research Triangle Foundation leaders spoke at the recently opened Boxyard RTP facility in Research Triangle Park on Friday morning to discuss the past 15 months of economic development announcements, including the reasons why Apple chose the area for its new campus.

It’s not just Apple, either, there’s been an increased interest in the region, both Research Triangle Park, and the larger Triangle region, with many companies announcing new facilities or expansions in the past 15 months.

“It’s phenomenal,” said Research Triangle Foundation’s president and CEO, Scott Levitan.  “We’ve never had a period that experienced this kind of interest, we’re just very proud of it.”

Apple announced that it would build a new campus and engineering hub in April, which will be on a 43-acre site in the region, and will hire for an expected 3,000 high-salary jobs in the region, and invest more than $1 billion in the state.

“One of the things that COVID did not stop was construction,” said Ray Trapp, the vice president of strategic engagement at the Research Triangle Foundation, during the presentation.  Trapp outlayed the future of Boxyard RTP, calling it a “destination point for the region.”

Trapp joined the Foundation in January, and along with Levitan, shared the schematics and plans for the future of the HUB RTP campus, along Interstate 40 along Davis Drive and NC-54, on a 43-acre site, with about 80,000 square feet of retail space in its first phase, which could start during the second quarter of 2022.  Eventually, the site will also include condominiums and inclusionary housing.

Levitan also discussed how the Research Triangle Foundation works with its regional partners to drive interest in the Triangle and in Research Triangle Park, along with Adrienne Cole, the president and CEO of the Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce, and Matt Calabria, the chair of the Wake County Board of Commissioners.

“We make smart investments,” said Calabria, calling Research Triangle Park a smart investment that has clearly paid dividends.  “We have to understand where we are going to be, and plan for that, and prepare for that, and make the investments we need to be ahead of the curve.”

It’s a unique combination of foresight and hustle, said Calabria, that’s the region’s leading advantage to attract growth and investment.

“Our theme word for the past two or three years has been “regionalism” and it’s so demonstrably effective for the Wake County Commissioners to come to Durham today,” said Levitan.