RTP headquarters at 12 Davis Drive
|Motto||Inspiring bold ideas|
Research Triangle Park, North Carolina
Research Triangle Park (RTP) is the largest research park in the United States. It is named for its location relative to the three surrounding cities of Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill, or more properly, for the three major research universities in them: North Carolina State University, Duke University, and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, respectively. The Research Triangle region of North Carolina received its name as an extension of the name of the park. Aside from the three anchor cities, the park is also bounded by the communities of Morrisville and Cary. Approximately one fourth of the Park's territory lies in Wake County, but the majority of its land is in Durham County.
Research Triangle Park is one of the most prominent high-tech research and development parks in the United States. It was created in 1959 by state and local governments, nearby universities, and local business interests. Karl Robbins bought the land where the park is now built. The park covers 7,000 acres (2,833 ha) and is situated in a pine forest with 22,500,000 square feet (2,090,318 m2) of built space. The park is traversed by Interstate 40, the Durham Freeway, and NC 540.
The park hosts one of GlaxoSmithKline's largest R&D centers with approximately 5,000 employees.Cisco Systems' campus in the park, with approximately 5,000 employees, is the second highest concentration of its employees outside its Silicon Valley corporate headquarters. The National Institutes of Health has its National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences located in the park and the city of Durham.
Research Triangle Park is owned and managed by the Research Triangle Foundation, a private non-profit organization. In August 2017, Scott Levitan was named the organization's new President and CEO, making him the 9th leader since the foundation was established.
Following World War II, North Carolina's economy could no longer depend upon their traditional industries of agriculture, textiles, and furniture; their market share was in decline and jobs disappearing. Academics at N.C. State and Duke University came up with the idea of creating the park so that the universities could do research together, leverage the area's strengths, and keep graduates in the state.
Established in 1959, Research Triangle Park was created to increase innovation in the area. It is central to Duke University, North Carolina State University, and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. At first, the park struggled to recruit innovators, but in 1965, Research Triangle Park had its largest surge of growth thanks to heavy recruiting by the state's government and Archibald "Archie" Davis. In their article "The Growth of Research Triangle Park," Link and Scott posit that entrepreneurial culture and leadership contributed the most to its success as a cluster. Archie Davis promoted a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship by locating the park near universities, actively recruiting organizations (like the American Academy of Arts and Sciences), and used his vision to raise funding for the park.
Davis strongly believed that profits could not be the only driver for creating the park and that the betterment of the community should be the key goal. "The love of this state ... was the motivation for the Research Triangle idea," he said. "Research Triangle is a manifestation of what North Carolina is all about." Research Triangle Park remains a nonprofit.
The park is an unincorporated area, and state law prohibits municipalities from annexing areas within the park. Some local government functions are served by the Durham-Wake Counties Research and Production Service District, a special tax district created in 1986 that is conterminous with the park, wherein the property tax rate is limited to 10 cents per $100 valuation. The park has special zoning as a Research Applications District in the Wake County portion, and a Scientific Research Park in the Durham County portion. As of October 2012, both zoning areas are in the process of being revised to allow higher density development. The zoning changes are coupled with legislative changes allowing for Urban Research Service Districts (URSD) within the Park, which can include a mix of retail and residential usages. These newly permitted URSDs could levy taxes at the same rate as a neighboring city.
On October 1, 2015, former President and CEO of the Research Triangle Foundation, Bob Geolas, announced RTP's plans for a $50,000,000 redevelopment involving the formation of "Park Center." $20,000,000 will be allocated from Durham County, $10,000,000 from the Durham-Wake Counties Research and Production Service District, and $20,000,000 as a result of land purchases and site work provided by the Research Triangle Foundation of North Carolina.
Park Center is to be over 300,000 square feet of public space at the heart of the Research Triangle Park. This public area will include retail outlets, food and beverage venues, and entertainment space. Geolas stated "We want to make all of this as local as possible. I would like to have as few chains, no chains if we could. I'd love for it all to be local. Local coffee, local food, local produce, local products."
The redevelopment plans also include exploring partnerships with regional transit groups. The hope of the Research Triangle Foundation is to broaden public transportation to and from the area. According to Geolas, "We are currently having discussions about bringing the Regional Transit Center over to Park Center so that we can connect with all of our transit links."
The Research Triangle Foundation operates several subsidiaries within the park. These include: the Frontier RTP startup campus, The Lab, and The Archie K. Davis Conference Center. The Frontier first opened as a free coworking space in a single building in January 2015. Since its inception, the Foundation has expanded the Frontier RTP concept to three additional buildings, creating an affordable campus for growing tech, life science, and nonprofit organizations.
The Archie K. Davis Conference Center is a 6,800 square foot event space located at RTP Headquarters; the AKD Conference Center is also home to the Research Triangle Foundation main offices.
In March 2019, RTF announced plans to construct Boxyard RTP, a 15,000 square foot shipping container complex on the Frontier RTP campus. "Boxyard RTP is a workhorse opportunity for RTP and the region," said Scott Levitan, president and CEO of the Research Triangle Foundation. "Experimental food, libations and retail, cool programming and event opportunities will flip the energy switch for RTP and our neighborhood communities." Boxyard RTP is slated to open in spring of 2020.