Triangle tops for tech business
Sep 22, 2005
By DAVID RANII, Staff Writer
California's Silicon Valley has always been technology's hot spot,
but the Triangle is heating up.
Silicon Valley? Dead last.
"We're obviously pleased with any accusations of excellence," said Rick Weddle, president of the Research Triangle Foundation of North Carolina. The foundation is the owner and developer of Research Triangle Park.
The report, released Wednesday, was done by the Silicon Valley Leadership Group, which represents 195 companies that account for nearly one of five jobs in the Valley. It's meant to be a wake-up call there.
"Just because Silicon Valley is the birthplace of high technology, it is not a birthright," said Carl Guardino, chief executive of the group. "It's something we have to earn every day."
Raleigh-Durham ranked first or second in six of the study's eight critical performance measures. The categories were designed to measure the cost of doing business, the cost of living and the quality of life.
The Triangle was best in housing affordability and had the least traffic congestion. It ranked second in unemployment rates, state tax rates (both corporate and individual) and the performance by its eighth-graders on math tests.
In the other two categories -- electricity costs and the percentage of people with health insurance -- Raleigh-Durham was fifth.
The study can be a weapon for Triangle economic development leaders in the corporate recruitment wars.
"We'll use this study to sell, to promote, to further gain recognition as a tech region," Weddle said.
The Triangle has had some success recently in high-tech recruiting. This year, Tekelec, a telecommunications gear maker, announced it was moving its headquarters from Calabasas, Calif., to Morrisville, where it already employed about 600 people. Last year, New York-based Credit Suisse chose RTP for its $100 million technology development and processing center.
The study shows that the Triangle also is a good place to start a tech business, said Monica Doss, president of the Council for Entrepreneurial Development, a nonprofit group that works with young companies.
Still, Doss said, the Triangle lags in some areas that aren't in the report. One is accessibility to venture capital, the financing that new companies need to develop their technology and expand.
Indeed, the report makes a passing reference to Silicon Valley remaining top dog with "the nation's largest concentration of information and biotechnology companies" and "the largest pool of venture capital."
"We still believe the Silicon Valley is the top technology region in the world," Guardino said. "This report underscores that we aren't the only technology region in the world."
Weddle said the Research Triangle Foundation has hired IBM's business consulting division to do a similar study of the "best practices" of research parks and research centers around the globe.
"Just because we're good today," he said, "doesn't mean we can enjoy that position tomorrow."
Staff writer David Ranii can be reached at 829-4877 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Speaks to Cary in New Tone!
BY TOBY COLEMAN: The News&Observer
Follow the country roads west, past the home builders'
final field of red clay, and you will find a place where the din of
crickets can still drown out the distant hum of traffic.
To do that, some of the area's most visible opponents of suburbia are asking the town of Cary to enact rules that will bar builders from crowding houses onto tiny lots. These opponents hope the rural character of eastern Chatham will be preserved.
"It's not fair to the people of this community to have developers tell us how we're going to look," said Chatham County resident Sally Kost. "We need to change with a plan that people have had a voice in."
Kost and others turned to Cary last month as two massive subdivisions on the town's western fringe, Amberly and Weldon Ridge, announced plans to expand into Chatham County.
The Chatham County residents' requests appear to mark a slight sweetening of the often caustic dialogue between the town and its eastern neighbors.
The change is personified in Patrick Barnes, a Chatham County commissioner who swept into office after leading the anti-sprawl group Chatham County United.
A couple of years ago, Barnes was at the forefront of a campaign to keep Cary out of Chatham County. He helped organize a pressure campaign that forced the Cary Town Council to stop planning for Chatham County development.
Barnes and Chatham County United were so opposed to Cary's presence in Chatham County that they protested a Cary town plan to build a park on Jordan Lake, he said.
Now Barnes, 69, a general contractor who refers to Cary as an "evil empire," is ready to work with the town.
He said he is turning to the town because the Chatham County commissioners do not have the power or the will to stop Cary from crossing the county line.
"I'm trying to do whatever I can to slow them and stop them," Barnes said of Cary. "I'm trying to get them to see that we don't want them. But Cary is arrogant and aggressive."
Members of the Cary Town Council take offense at Barnes' description. They say that they are being invited into Chatham County by developers who want to tap into the town's sewer system. They note that by doing so they are making land in northeastern Chatham County worth more than it would be otherwise.
They admit, though, that the town needs to begin thinking about how it will expand into Chatham County, especially since the town's growth there will be felt by schools and other county operations.
Though the Cary Town Council is willing to talk to Chatham County about limiting development, it does not seem ready to give the residents of northeastern Chatham County what they really want: a promise to stop the town's growth short of Jordan Lake.
"I think if we draw some arbitrary line, we would only find future Cary councils in the same spot we are in today," said council member Marla Dorrel. "So I think it is best to plan for what could be reasonably served by the town of Cary."
Chatham Wal-Mart Foes Meet!
BY LISA HOPPENJANS: The News&Observer
CHAPEL HILL -- Bill Tessin is a man ready to fight. When
he moved to Chatham County 10 weeks ago, he left behind a battle against
a Wal-Mart proposed in his Florida community.
"You're fighting Wal-Mart," Tessin said. "They have a big pocketbook. They have a lot of lawyers. You're going to have to be prepared. ... Do whatever you can, because if you don't, you're done."
The meeting was called by a new group called Chatham First, aimed at preventing the possible construction of a Wal-Mart in the Starpoint area, near Smith Level Road and U.S. 15-501, just south of the Orange-Chatham line. The meeting was intended to provide residents more information about the planning and zoning process for a big-box retailer on the site, and outline reasons for opposition.
The county has not received an application to develop the 63-acre site, which is owned by Lee-Moore Oil Co. of Sanford. Lee-Moore President Kirk Bradley said Thursday that the company has not selected a tenant for the site, but that it is interested in bringing in a big-box retailer. "We've talked to Wal-mart, among others," he said.
Glen Wilkins, a Wal-Mart community affairs manager based in Atlanta, would not confirm whether the company was considering the site. "At this time I don't have any immediate plans," he said.
Twenty acres of the site are already zoned for business. County Planning Director Keith Megginson, who had been asked to make a presentation at the meeting, told the audience the developer would not need to submit a rezoning request if any commercial development was going to be confined to those 20 acres. But he said it is unlikely that a Wal-Mart and parking lot could fit within that area.
Mark Barroso, the organizer of Thursday night's meeting, said that Chatham First wants to be prepared if a rezoning request does come. He urged those in attendance to donate money to help the group hire experts who could testify at public hearings about Wal-Mart's impact.
Opponents argued that a Wal-Mart would destroy the largely rural character of northern Chatham County and cause environmental damage. They also claim that a traffic study commissioned by Lee-Moore underestimates the amount of new traffic a Wal-Mart would draw.
Others objected not only to the site, but to the company itself. Jeffrey Starkweather, chairman of The Chatham Coalition, an organization that supports candidates who promote "smart growth," framed the debate over Wal-Mart as a question of morals. Starkweather, who practiced employment law for 10 years, said that Wal-Mart has a record of discrimination against women, minorities, the disabled and immigrants. Wal-Mart denies such allegations on its Web site, which highlights its diversity initiatives.
"I don't believe that meets the quality of life and the ethics of the people of Chatham County," Starkweather said.
Others disagree. As Wal-Mart opponents streamed into the restaurant for the meeting, Diane Best was purchasing a chocolate ice cream cone at the nearby Snowflake Ice Cream Parlor.
Best said that she drives to the Wal-Marts in Siler City or Durham about every two weeks to buy groceries. She and her husband also make trips to Wal-Mart most Friday nights.
"I hope it comes," she said. "[Prices are] much cheaper than anything around here."
BY TOBY COLEMAN: The News&Observer
MORRISVILLE -- Mary Branch is about to
get some new neighbors. Five hundred and seventy-three housefuls of
them, to be exact.
"All this used to be farmland, where you raised your tobacco and your corn and you had your hogs and your chickens," said Branch, who has called this area home since 1960.
Not many crops grow in Morrisville these days. It's houses, townhouses and condominiums that are popping up now. Three shopping centers also are under construction in the town, which is in western Wake County, just south of Research Triangle Park.
Morrisville leaders are quick to say that everyone in town stands to benefit from the meteoric growth rate of 122 percent since 2000, documented in new U.S. Census Bureau figures. That rate makes Morrisville the fastest-growing municipality in North Carolina.
New people and new homes bring more money into town, create more businesses and allow government to provide better parks, new green space and other public amenities, said Jodi Ann LaFreniere, president of the Morrisville Chamber of Commerce.
But not everybody is putting out the welcome mat for growth. Some longtime residents say the influx of newcomers has turned a sleepy town of neighbors into a busier town of strangers.
And even some relatively new residents have begun opposing proposed subdivisions that they fear will choke roads with traffic.
"Growth is not always good," said former Mayor Wade Davis.
For years, Morrisville was a place where people either worked or drove through on their way to RTP or Raleigh-Durham International Airport.
That has changed in the past decade, as developers have laid out more than a dozen subdivisions, with more than 6,500 homes.
'It's the location'
The people who have moved into those homes have settled on Morrisville for one reason, said Monika Papenhausen, an agent with RE/MAX realty.
"Before anything else, it's the location," she said.
Traffic-wary RTP workers often pick Morrisville to avoid the gridlock that many of their colleagues from Cary, Durham and Raleigh suffer through every day.
"That's why we live here," said Rebecca Boyd, who has lived in a Morrisville townhouse with her husband, Kirk, for about a year. "Since traffic is a bear around here, it's good to get to your work location pretty quickly."
Kirk Boyd works at IBM in the park.
Many newcomers also are drawn by the area's stock of housing priced under $200,000, said LaFreniere, the chamber president.
"That's attractive to a lot of different people," she said. "Single people, first-time home buyers, retired people who don't want the hassle of taking care of a yard anymore and people who work a lot."
Commercial and upscale office space development is exploding in Apex and Holly Springs so the time to buy land for residential development is NOW!
Apex's current population
is 27,700, and with current approved lots for homes is in effect 35,000
plus. Click to enlarge the photo above for a bird's eye view!
Growth Areas For Apex
Springs To Apex
and Chatham County land has appreciated greatly in the last ten years
and will likely skyrocket with the completion of outer loop! Due
to the unparalleled growth, many towns,had previously put temporary
moratoriums on issuing building permits to work out availability of
utilities, road and schools. Those utilities,
road and schools have been built, moratoriums lifted and development
Major Growth Areas
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CHATHAM COUNTY HAS THE OPPORTUNITY TO BE THE BEST PLANNED AND MANAGED COMMUNITIES IN NORTH CAROLINA !!!!!!!
investment in real estate in this county is a sure bet for the future.
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