“We are going to double the population”, so what should Triangle do? The CEO of the Research Triangle Foundation says…


Editor’s note: WRAL TechWire’s “Future of Work” series, supported by commercial real estate firm JLL and other partners, wraps up this week, with a look at the future of work and the future of Triangle.

So far, the Future of Work series has taken an in-depth look at the demand for land, which can now be described as ‘insatiable’, as developers seek to shore up their land positions. This is particularly the case in the industrial sector, the subject of the special report and in-depth Q&A, and, increasingly, the life sciences and biopharmaceutical sector, which the series investigated last week. Join a WRAL TechWire LinkedIn Live discussion on Tuesday, May 24 at 11 a.m. with Brett Cox, Research Fellow at JLL, to discuss the latest trends and the future of commercial real estate in the Triangle.


RALEIGH- The Triangle will double its population. And that doubling could be coming soon, according to Scott Levitan, president and CEO of the Research Triangle Foundation, who spoke with WRAL TechWire earlier this year about the region’s future.

Preparing the region for growth is already underway, and there are still many opportunities to improve the region’s infrastructure beyond traditional roads, highways and bridges, Levitan noted.

The future of work in the Triangle will hinge on the region’s ability to manage the region’s growth and imagine a future of work that also incorporates an understanding of how people will prefer to live and recreate themselves.

A transcript of our conversation appears below, and it has been lightly edited for clarity.

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The future of RTP

WRAL TechWire (TW): What does the Triangle look like at the end of the decade? And what about in 2050?

Scott Levitan, President and CEO of the Research Triangle Foundation (Levitan): Our population will double, so it’s important that we now plan to implement a robust infrastructure to address our existing infrastructure issues and implement new features and capabilities.

Infrastructure goes beyond roads, highways and pipelines. It includes open spaces, equitable public school education throughout the region, and inclusive housing, among others. We clearly need to add modalities to our transportation systems which can include commuter rail, regional bus rapid transit, last mile solutions and robust systems for the implementation of electric vehicles and autonomous.

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Economic development

TW: What roles do the life sciences and technology sectors play in the future of the region?

Because of our reputation, our academic research capabilities, and our cluster of biotechnology companies, the Triangle will always be at the forefront of the life sciences.

We differentiate ourselves, however, by supporting clusters of companies in the AgTech, FinTech, AI, Machine Learning, Gaming and other fields.

It would be hard to find any other region in the world that can claim such cluster power as the Triangle. These technologies have been converging for 20 years and are co-dependent. The relocation announcements that have accelerated over the past two years are clear indicators that our Region is the place where companies should set up their R&D centers.

TW: You mentioned that relocation projects have accelerated over the past two years. What are the important factors for these companies?

Levitan: The Triangle has focused on multiple talent resources and can produce a considerable number of educated workers. Some tend to focus only on our Tier 1 research institutions, but that’s only a third of the picture. Our HBCUs and community colleges are nimble enough to partner with companies to produce new “repurposed” talent to fill positions. Technical jobs require continuous training as technical skills evolve in shortening cycles – 3-4 years. As a disproportionately important host for the military, North Carolina is focused on transitioning military members to great jobs in our state. They are an extraordinary resource of talent.

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Moving in the region

TW: Why do you think more people are moving here?

Levitan: We all need to envision future life in the Triangle and understand the opportunities available now to maintain and improve our community for the future.

There are so many examples of regions that have experienced tremendous growth and failed to plan appropriately. Some of the key opportunities that our Region needs to focus on now include regional mobility, our airport, the production of equitable and high-performing public schools, water (supply, runoff and sewage), energy resources and, very importantly, the preservation of open spaces and recreational resources. such as trails and local sports facilities.

North Carolina utilities are leading the way to move to 100% renewable energy by 2050 – North Carolina must lead the way in all of these important areas.

TW: But there is also a housing shortage. What can the region do to remedy this, especially as population growth is expected?

Levitan: We need to work with our elected officials to assess how to generate additional property tax revenue and direct increases towards more and affordable housing.

Annual bond referendums are not the most effective or reliable way to meet the needs of our communities.

The tax increase need not impact existing owners; but escalations are appropriate after transactions or investments have been implemented.

The gross land tax revenue cap pushes investments in key infrastructure into the future when they will be exponentially more expensive (or impossible as land resources are redeveloped).

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RTP HUB a “big deal”

TW: How important will Hub RTP be in this future? What other ongoing projects – across all sectors and geographies of the region – could be indicators of the region’s future?

Levitan: HUB and Frontier have already changed the perception of RTP – and not a day too soon.

Of the 300 companies in the Park, 1/3 are located on the Frontier campus. These entrepreneurial and creative companies that will grow in our Region had no place at RTP 6 years ago. The densification of the region and the tightening of transport networks have finally proven the desirability of RTP to be the center of the region and HUB is expected to anchor this role for the park.

Our transportation and planning partners among the counties have identified opportunities to thoughtfully plan our major transportation corridors in the region to densify underutilized transit-oriented corridors rather than relying on sprawl to Respond to housing requests from our residents.

Implementing this in a way that provides all residents with the opportunity to participate in our success is the primary goal of our organization, the Research Triangle Foundation of NC, and all park businesses.

Our organization is proud to have achieved 38% MWBE participation in our contracts and supplier purchases in fiscal year 2021. We’re making a big deal out of it because if a nonprofit can make a priority and achieve these results, we can motivate our industry partners to do the same.

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The last

TW: So what’s the latest on the RTP Hub, its timeline, and the other grounds and facilities of the Research Triangle Foundation?

Levitan: The $110 million HUB RTP infrastructure project will be completed in July 2022 and vertical construction will begin immediately. We are in agreement with residential, commercial, laboratory, hotel and office developers. We may plan to have beers in HUB RTP in the spring of 2024. In the meantime, please visit Boxyard RTP for a taste of what to expect in the park.

The Foundation has 40 acres available and is not aware of any other parcels on the market. On the rental side, there is continued interest in the Frontier and we are above 95% occupancy. We have also executed a number of renewals and will make further rental announcements in the future.

This editorial file was produced with the financial support of JLL and other partners. WRAL TechWire retains full editorial control of all content.

The series was launched here and the second report discussed the high demand. Next, the series explored the relationship between workspaces, workplaces, and today’s job market. Over the next several weeks, we investigated specific sectors of the real estate market, including land development, multi-family commercial properties, industrial space, and life sciences and biopharmaceutical space.

More from the series

Special Report: What life sciences companies need to thrive in the future of work

Future of Work: Triangle “well positioned” for greater growth of the industrial sector

Exclusive Q&A: Resilience, e-commerce keeps demand for industrial space high

Future of Work Report: Developers ‘aggressively trying to shore up land positions’ in Triangle

Perspectives on land use planning: questions and answers on the future of work


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