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Research Triangle Park, North Carolina Profile
Research Triangle Park (RTP) is a public/private, planned research park, created in 1959 by leaders from business, academia and industry. But the idea of creating a research park started many years before.
Many people in the 1950s started thinking about the concept of a research park including Howard Odum, professor of sociology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. In 1952, Odum proposed several research center formats that incorporated the idea of cooperation among research organizations. Romeo Guest was another person who was extremely involved with the idea of forming a research park. Guest was one of the first people to use the phrase "Research Triangle Park."
The Research Triangle Committee was formed in September, 1956 to explore the idea of creating a research park to be located between Duke University in Durham, N.C. State University in Raleigh, and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Members of the non-profit Committee included leaders from across the State of North Carolina in government, business and the universities.
In April, 1957, an investor, Karl Robbins, was found who agreed to provide funds to acquire options on land. By the end of 1957, 3,559 acres had been optioned or purchased (441 acres were pending) at a cost of approximately $700,000.
In September, 1957, a for-profit company called "Pinelands" was formed with Robbins as the sole stockholder.
In August, 1958, the chairman of the Research Triangle Committee, Robert Hanes, asked Archie Davis of Wachovia Bank to find other possible investors from North Carolina for the Pinelands Corporation. Davis made two important suggestions: that the non-profit Research Triangle Committee be re-named the Research Triangle Foundation of North Carolina (RTF), and that his effort would be to solicit contributions for RTF rather than to sell stock for Pinelands.
On January 9, 1959, Governor Luther Hodges formally announced that Davis' fund-raising drive had raised $1.425 million. He also announced the establishment of Research Triangle Institute, the construction of the Robert M. Hanes Building (to house the Foundation and the Institute), and the acquisition of land assembled by Karl Robbins which would pass control of his venture to the non-profit Research Triangle Foundation. The Research Triangle Institute was the Park's first tenant and served as a focal point for companies interested in the Park, as it still does today -- RTI is now the fourth-largest non-profit contract research organization in the United States. Its areas of research range from statistics to virtual reality; cochlear implants to advanced pharmaceutical projects.
The Park overall grew slowly through the early 1960's. Then, in 1965, with the advent of both International Business Machines Corp. (IBM) and the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, the Park began to grow in earnest. By 1969, 21 companies had located in RTP. From 1970 to 1979, 17 additional companies located here. By 1989, 28 more companies chose locations in the Park.
From 1990 to 2000, more than 42 new companies have established facilities in RTP. New construction and expansion has totaled over 5 million square feet. A research business incubator was formed to provide interim laboratory facilities for early-stage companies. And Park Research Center, a campus of about 12 buildings that was formerly occupied by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, was established to provide wet lab space to smaller and mid-sized research companies.
Also located in the Park is the North Carolina Biotechnology Center, a state-supported initiative that provides grants and creative services to support biotech companies. MCNC offers advanced resources in microfabrication and telecommunications and houses the North Carolina Supercomputing Center . Together, they provide unparalleled resources to North Carolina companies, the universities, and area entrepreneurs. All of these institutions work together with the Park companies, reflecting a special spirit of cooperation and learning within the scientific and technological community, just as Odum once envisioned back in the 1950's.
The Park encompasses 7,000 acres of North Carolina pine forest and has approximately 1,100 acres for development. It currently houses more than 100 research and development facilities which employ over 38,500 Triangle residents. The combined annual salaries in RTP amount to over $1.2 billion dollars.
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