The Research Triangle Park

The future of great ideas

The RTP Reconnects With North Carolina

12/10/2012

CEO of the ResearchTriangle Foundation of NC, Bob Geolas, recently had the op-ed below pubushed in the Triangle Busines Journal. Geolas and his staff have just wrappd up a statewide listening tour where they disucssed the future of North Carolina and RTP with community colleges, universities, small business owners and economic development professionals.
Research Triangle Park has been a living symbol of how people in education, government and business can work together. But this collaboration came from an even higher ideal held by North Carolinians. Something Archie Davis, a key founder of our park, called “a generosity of spirit.”

Most people don’t realize that the money that built RTP came from private citizens.
In the 1950s, the Park was a big idea that nearly didn’t happen. Time was short and the price tag was huge. Options on the land were due in 60 days, and it was going to cost today’s equivalent of $15 million.
Archie Davis of Winston-Salem, a young banker, said the people of North Carolina would not let this plan fail. He got in his car and drove across the state, explaining to all kinds of people the plans for this new research park.
They gave. Yes, business people and educators. But also farmers, school teachers and ordinary citizens who believed the Park was North Carolina’s chance to do something that would open up a new future and new world to our state.
It worked. And much of North Carolina’s remarkable success story over the past 50 years can be traced to that big idea. And to that special generosity of spirit.
That is why, as we announce the new master plan to carry this park forward for the next 50 years, we are hitting the road, traveling by bus to begin a statewide conversation.  In our “Pathways to Opportunity” tour we are stopping at more than 20 places, including community colleges and universities. We’re meeting with business leaders, educators, local government leaders and interested citizens.
We’re asking people in all parts of North Carolina to join us in thinking big about the future of our state. How can we keep up with the global economy?  How can we give young people the education they need to get good jobs?  How can we, once again, do something great for North Carolina?
Naturally, some people will look on the Research Triangle Park as a competitor for new companies and new jobs.  And, sometimes, we will be competing with other regions of the state.  Competition is not a bad thing: It’s good for companies to have choices when they come to North Carolina.
But collaboration is even better than competition.  And if all of us across North Carolina work together, all of North Carolina will benefit.
We want to hear what people across North Carolina say, hear their stories.  We want to hear about the challenges they face and the opportunities that excite them.  We want to talk about what we can do together.
I know from my own life how a bold idea like the Park can change people’s lives.  Growing up in Raleigh, my dad, a working-class electrician who had never been to college, would drive us out to RTP, which was just beginning to catch on.  He told us that the Park could change our lives.
It changed his: He got a better job working for a company there.  It changed mine: I was able to go to N.C. State and get the education I needed.
The Park helped to change the economic life of our entire state.  That was its original mission: not just to develop the land it occupies, but to improve the quality of life of all North Carolinians.
Today, we are reconnecting with that mission.  We’re reaching out to the state that gave birth to the Research Triangle Park and in turn gained so much strength from its success. 
We invite you to join us in reimagining what North Carolina can be and do.  To be part of the conversation, go to reimaginenc.com.  Ask your question.  Share your ideas.
We have a history of thinking big in North Carolina.  We have a history of working together to make big things happen.  It’s time to think big again, because – together – we can do great things in North Carolina.