WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. – Plans were announced today to pursue a 180-acre expansion of Piedmont Triad Research Park in downtown Winston-Salem, anchored by a new “research campus” for Wake Forest University School of Medicine, that will mean a significant addition to North Carolina’s “Biotechnology Corridor.”
University officials were joined by congressional, state, local and business representatives for the announcement. Richard H. Dean, M.D., president and CEO of Wake Forest University Health Sciences (WFUHS), described the multimillion-dollar initiative as “a major commitment to transform our economy from one driven by manufacturing to one led by technology. The strategic location and size of this planned expansion will serve as a catalyst to eliminate barriers between segments of our community, and create significant economic opportunity for all.”
Thomas K. Hearn Jr., Ph.D., president of Wake Forest University and chairman of the board of directors of Idealliance, said that representatives of Idealliance have been working for the past year to negotiate with landowners in the area to the north, east and south of the existing Piedmont Triad Research Park, which currently covers a five-block area near First and Main streets. The park already includes four multistory buildings, more than 20 tenants, approximately 600 employees, and a total payroll approaching $25 million.
The proposed expansion to the research park – more than 10 times the size of the current park – would be bordered on the north by Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, on the east by U.S. Highway 52, on the south by Salem Creek, and on the west by Chestnut Street. The expansion would be in close proximity to both Winston-Salem State University and Salem College. “We anticipate that this expansion will create significant opportunity for developing the shared interests of Winston-Salem State, Salem College and other entities,” Hearn said.
The negotiations with landowners have resulted in various agreements and options to purchase under which land could be included in the expanded new research park. City and county officials have been consulted on issues such as infrastructure and transportation.
Dean said that the medical school''s new research campus will be used for fundamental as well as clinical research and eventually educational purposes. The Department of Physiology and Pharmacology and Physician Assistant Program are already located in the research park. Dean said the new research campus will serve as a magnet to draw other interests to the park.
The expanded research park will be available for a variety of uses, including additional research centers – both academic and privately operated – technology startup companies and small businesses, laboratory operations, retail businesses and restaurants.
“We anticipate that as this park reaches maturity over the next 10 to 15 years, it can mean more than 10,000 new jobs, around $5 million in annual property tax revenues alone, and over $2.5 billion in total economic impact for the entire region,” Dean told the group of government and business leaders assembled for the announcement today.
A key piece of the real estate acquisition was the donation by R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company of 10 acres. The L-shaped tract is on Vine Street, between Fourth and Seventh streets, along with a parking lot located on the corner of Seventh and Linden streets. Research park master planners are studying the best possible use for the land and facilities.
“The land and buildings donated by Reynolds Tobacco symbolize a continuum of growth for our community,” said Andrew J. Schindler, chairman and chief executive officer of R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company and chairman of the Winston-Salem Alliance, a non-profit development corporation created in 2000 to work for economic growth in the city.
“This area of downtown Winston-Salem was the foundation for Reynolds Tobacco’s 127-year record of growth and success, and will now be the foundation for the successful growth of new businesses in our community. Today’s announcement is a shining example of the progress this community can make when the private and public sectors collaborate and make things happen,” Schindler said.
Harold L. Martin Sr., Ph.D., chancellor of Winston-Salem State University, said, “The plans establish an accelerated agenda for economic development and growth. Winston-Salem State University is delighted to be a part of this important initiative.”
U.S. Rep. Richard Burr who represents North Carolina''s Fifth District, said, “Forsyth County and the surrounding northwest Piedmont region has suffered from a long-term decline in its manufacturing employment base. This project is the result of a critical collaboration among universities, government, and local industries to improve employment prospects for displaced workers, and is a key step in creating a new economic base for Winston-Salem and Forsyth County. I look forward to further federal cooperation as we work toward continued and sustained economic growth for the Piedmont.”
Mayor Allen Joines agreed that the Research Park expansion should be a boon to city growth. “The availability of this large, contiguous land mass, which can be dedicated to biomedical and technological research, development and business needs, represents the next big step that our community must take in growing our technology-based economy. Having research facilities side by side with for-profit companies will also benefit the city''s tax base,” Joines said. “With the assets and amenities Winston-Salem already possesses, this community should be a prime target for future biotech development.”
Gov. Mike Easley said, “The expanded research park will be a major addition to North Carolina’s Biotechnology Corridor.” He was referring to the group of more than 150 biotech companies already operating in the state. Although many of the companies are concentrated in the Triangle area, biotech activity is found in more than a dozen other cities, from Wilmington to Pisgah Forest.
“We have already made a good start here in Winston-Salem in the Piedmont Triad Research Park (PTRP),” said Bill Dean, president of Idealliance. “We foresee that this dramatic expansion will mark Winston-Salem and the Piedmont Triad as the leading biotechnology center for western North Carolina while providing critical resources for future technology development in the western part of the state. PTRP has a lot going for it in terms of location, access, and the amenities offered by its urban setting, so we anticipate increasing outside interest in locating here.”
To facilitate the expansion process, Idealliance will be restructured under a formal affiliation agreement with WFUHS.
The research park expansion – including the research campus – is being master-planned by Sasaki Associates of Watertown, Mass. The initial site plan and usage assessment for the land is scheduled to be completed by spring 2003.
Richard Dean said that the announcement of the medical school''s involvement in Research Park expansion is a fitting commencement to the school''s Centennial year. The school will observe its 100th anniversary throughout the 2002-2003 school year. “We hope that this expansion will allow our second century to match our first in growth and accomplishment and service to humankind,” Dean said.
Wake Forest University Health Sciences (WFUHS): includes Wake Forest University School of Medicine and co-ownership of Wake Forest University Baptist Behavioral Health, ownership of One Technology Place in the research park, and ownership of 10 dialysis centers throughout the region. The medical school has 1,500 students, residents, fellows and allied health students, a budget approaching $500 million, a research enterprise with more than $100 million in grants annually, more than 70 satellite clinics in numerous communities, and more than 700 faculty and 4,000 other employees. The medical school has co-sponsored three technology expositions in the past six years, presenting several hundred marketable research projects by scientists from throughout the Triad. University researchers have filed 176 invention disclosures and 65 patent applications since 1997, and licensing revenues, which support the academic mission, have grown twenty-fold.
Idealliance: Idealliance is a non-profit innovation community of education, government and business leaders with a shared vision for diversified technology-led economic development. Its mission is to promote academic, industry and government collaboration and increased growth in emerging and established businesses in biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, nutrition, medical devices, imaging and information technologies. Idealliance is the chief agent for development of Piedmont Triad Research Park in downtown Winston-Salem.
Sasaki Associates: Sasaki Associates, with offices in Boston (Watertown) and San Francisco, enjoys an international reputation for award winning design. The firm, known for designing many landmark projects both nationally and internationally, provides interdisciplinary design including planning, landscape architecture, architecture, urban design, civil engineering, interior design, and graphic design. The firm has guided similar large-scale projects throughout the United States and Europe including the Science Centre de France in Paris. Sasaki was awarded first prize in the international design competition for the Olympic Green - the primary site of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. Sasaki also won the top prize for the Wukesong Cultural and Sports Center - the Olympic venue for basketball, baseball and softball. For more information about Sasaki, see their website: www.sasaki.com.
Note to Editors: Download map of Piedmont Triad Research Park
Media Contacts: Mark Wright (WFUHS), (336) 716-4587 or Greg Brownstein (Idealliance) (336) 716-8508.