Local News

Study: RTP Needs To Widen Its Horizons To Improve Prosperity, Growth

Posted October 29, 2001 7:07 a.m. EST

— Even with the economic downturn, the Triangle continues to do well thanks to the strengths of its universities and technology.


new study

by the

Council on Competitiveness

suggests RTP's horizons must widen to improve prosperity and growth.

Regional leaders heard how they must innovate, educate, cooperate and motivate to move the assets of Research Triangle Park into an 18-county region.

Harvard's Michael Porter says that the region must move beyond telecommunications and pharmaceuticals to improve prosperity.

"There are no low-tech businesses. There are only low-tech companies that haven't applied technology to make their businesses more productive," he says.

Porter advocates developing clusters: geographic groups of competing and cooperating companies, suppliers and associated institutions.

RTP is one of five regions being studied. Porter says local leaders should include industries such as bio-technology, high-tech textiles and chemicals.

"A relatively small number of clusters that were directly connected to the [Research Triangle] Park are just the beginning of creating a more broad innovation economy and driving up the average wages in the region," says Porter.

Other areas in the study are Atlanta, Pittsburgh and San Diego. RTP leads those cities in some areas.

"The responses to the surveys reflect that the quantity and quality of scientists and engineers in the region is the highest in any of the places that they studied," says UNC System President Molly Broad.

Major weaknesses of the area, according to the survey, are the lack of coordination among groups dealing with economic development, K-12 education, few corporate headquarters, lack of venture capital and infrastructure.

Local leaders will study the survey findings and attempt to develop ways to capitalize on RTP's strengths.