Regional Report Triad May 2013
Research park gets a brand-aid
When it comes to campuses where science and commerce intersect, it can be tough keeping all the names straight. There’s the granddaddy of them all, Research Triangle Park, between Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill. There are Gateway University Research Park in Greensboro, University Research Park in Charlotte, and, until March, Piedmont Triad Research Park in Winston-Salem. But because brand is everything these days, it has been renamed Wake Forest Innovation Quarter, tying it to the university and Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, which owns most of the roughly 200- acre enterprise on the east side of downtown Winston-Salem. “We were constantly being confused with RTP outside our market, and many people did not understand that the medical center owns and operates much of the park,” Dr. John McConnell, CEO of Wake Forest Baptist, told the Winston-Salem Journal. “By adding the university’s name, it gives the quarter a recognized brand.”
The park’s roots stretch to 1994, when Wake Forest and Winston-Salem State University moved a few researchers into a downtown building. But the real action started in 2002, when Wake Forest began a major expansion focused on attracting medical and biotech companies. The park’s renovated buildings, some donated by Winston-Salem-based Reynolds American Inc., include about 800,000 square feet of lab, office and mixed-use space. By the end of next year, it will have 1.3 million square feet, but it is still a work in progress.
Its highest-profile tenant, Winston-Salem-based drug developer Targacept Inc., has struggled with disappointing clinical trials, cut its workforce more than 60% to about 40 and moved outside the park. Come next year, the largest employer (other than Wake Forest) will be Winston-Salem-based Inmar Inc., which will move 900 jobs there from offices elsewhere in the city. Inmar does inventory management, reverse logistics and coupon clearing for retailers and manufacturers.
All this attention to brand and innovation comes as the medical center tries to squeeze more revenue from research and invention. For years, it relied on royalty payments from a wound-care device developed at the medical center, but those have slowed to a trickle. Last year, it reorganized a division charged with commercializing its medical research. Chief Innovation Officer Eric Tomlinson is also president of Innovation Quarter, and for companies spun out of medical research, he has plenty of space to rent.
— Winston-Salem-based Novant Health’s total economic impact in North Carolina last fiscal year, according to a study commissioned by the health-care network. It provided more than 44,000 jobs.
HIGH POINT — OFS Brands will expand its local plant, investing $9.3 million and adding 188 to its workforce of 190. The Huntingburg, Ind.-based furniture manufacturer and logistics company will consolidate several operations here. Average annual salary will be $42,119, higher than Guilford County’s average $40,196.
GREENSBORO — Allegiant Air will begin direct flights June 6 from Piedmont Triad International Airport to Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport in Florida. The Las Vegas-based low-cost carrier will fly the route twice a week.
WINSTON-SALEM — Novant Health’s shared-services division and Augusta, Ga.-based University Health Care System will partner to lower supply and information-technology costs, though both will remain independent. It’s the fourth partnership the division has made since Novant created it last year.
WINSTON-SALEM — R.J. Reynolds Tobacco hired real-estate services firm CBRE to market its historic Reynolds Building downtown. The Los Angeles-based company’s Greensboro office will spearhead the effort. Last year, Greensboro developer Quaintance-Weaver Hotels studied turning the former headquarters into a hotel but decided the market was too weak for the project (Regional Report, February).
GREENSBORO — McConnell Golf will merge Cardinal Golf & Country Club into its Sedgefield Country Club this month. The move will give Sedgefield 36 holes of golf. The Raleigh-based golf-course owner will designate Sedgefield the Ross Course and Cardinal the Dye Course after their architects.