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Retooling RTP

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When the Research Triangle Park was founded several decades ago, it was unique. It was a research center nestled in a beautiful wooded area within easy proximity to cities and universities and has been a big success. Yet recently a plan was released that would make significant changes to RTP. Why the overhaul? N.C. State University economist Mike Walden answers.

“Well, I think in one word …, age. … RTP has been around for several decades. It was unique — and still is unique in many ways — but it’s aged now. It’s got some age on it, and I think many people think it needs a facelift.

“Another factor is there are competitors out there. When RTP came around, it was about the only such research park entity. Now there are scores of them around the country and around the world, and they’re newer. They’re in many cases cheaper. And so I think RTP rightly said, ‘We need to make some changes in order to remain competitive.’

“One of the things that they had going for them years ago, although they were in a rather remote area at that time, getting to that area was very easy. We had high speed highways to get there. Now as the Triangle area has grown – if you’re ever on I-40 going out to Research Triangle Park in the morning, it’s a parking lot — … access has become more of a problem. People also, I think, want to live closer to where they work. So, RTP’s plan, if you look at it, calls for making some very dramatic changes in terms of allowing some residential development to occur within the park, as well as to encourage some commercial development.

“So I think RTP is looking to be reborn. They still have a great label. They still have a great reputation. But I think they’re thinking, and I think rightly so, they need to be brought up-to-date with the times.”


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