Research Triangle Park welcomes Wilson County this month
Wednesday, July 16, 2014
The Research Triangle Regional Partnership welcomed Wilson County effective July 1 by vote of the organization’s Board of Directors. It follows the addition of Edgecombe and Nash counties to the region in 2013.
“Everyone here is very excited about this,” says Jennifer J. Lantz, executive director of the Wilson Economic Development Council.
Wilson County’s reputation as a lucrative destination for life sciences companies and jobs makes it a natural fit for the Research Triangle Region, she adds. About 1,000 workers are employed in Wilson County’s life sciences and pharmaceutical industry, a corporate roster that includes top global names like BD, Merck, Sandoz and Purdue Pharmaceuticals.
“Most of the resources supporting that industry are in the Raleigh area,” Lantz says.
Other county industry targets -- including defense, aerospace, automotive components and consumer foods – also dovetail neatly with growing sectors of the Research Triangle Region’s economy. The addition of Wilson County augments the region’s inventory of high-quality industrial properties. They include Wilson Corporate Park, a 500-acre park along I-95 with full infrastructure in place. Another new park, 800-acre Woodard Parkway, is under construction on the eastern side of the county along U.S. Highway 264.
The ready-to-go properties reflect the eagerness of Wilson County leaders to position their community for future prosperity.
“Our leadership is serious about improving our economy, they're willing to invest in a better future and they're patient,” explains Lantz, who has led the county’s economic development program for the past 25 years. “When you have those three things in place, you have what it takes to succeed.”
She expects the county’s new partnership with RTRP to boost the visibility of Wilson County’s economic assets and thus the flow of clients, projects and business relocations there.
“Wilson County brings a great deal to our region’s economic development program,” said Charles Hayes, president and CEO of RTRP. “Its flourishing life sciences companies, impressive manufacturing base, smart workforce and infrastructure-rich properties all fit comfortably with the Research Triangle Region’s brand.”
Wilson County has participated in Research Triangle Region activities before. In 2009, Lantz and other Wilson County leaders took part in “Reality Check,” a regional visioning exercise organized by RTRP with support from the Urban Land Institute. The county also was part of the economic area studied in the 2001 “Clusters of Innovation Initiative” conducted by noted Harvard Business School professor Michael Porter. Porter’s work formed the conceptual foundation for two consecutive five-year strategic regional development plans successfully undertaken by RTRP and its partners.
The Research Triangle Regional Partnership (RTRP) provides marketing and strategic economic development coordination for North Carolina's Research Triangle Region. RTRP comprises economic development organizations that represent a wide range of partners to ensure the region remains economically competitive at a global level. Among its many distinctions, RTRP received the U.S. Department of Commerce's National Award for Excellence in Economic Department Regional Competitiveness Strategic Planning. For more information, visit www.researchtriangle.org.