Federal Investment, 1965, Boosted RTP

On January 6, 1965, Governor Terry Sanford announced that the U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare (HEW) would invest $70 million in the Research Triangle Park (RTP) by locating its National Environmental Health Sciences Center there.

The investment proved pivotal in the growth of the park.

The idea for RTP can be traced back to the early 1950s, when some of North Carolina’s progressive leaders began to call for a shift in economic development strategy as traditional industries like textiles, tobacco and furniture declined.

A committee, predecessor to what’s now the Research Triangle Foundation, was formed in September 1956 to shepherd the project through its early years, and by 1959, Wachovia Chairman Archie Davis has raised enough money to purchase land between Raleigh and Durham for the creation of RTP.

The nonprofit contract research organization Research Triangle International and the U.S. Forest Service were among the park’s first tenants, but the announcement by HEW helped ensure the park’s success. IBM announced it would move to RTP three months later, and several large pharmaceutical, information technology, biotechnology and environmental sciences companies and organizations soon followed.

Today, RTP is home to nearly 200 companies and organizations which employ tens of thousands of workers across 7,000 acres.

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