In the mid-1950s, farming, textiles, tobacco and furniture—all low-wage, low-skill enterprises—were the backbone of North Carolina’s stagnant economy. Next to last nationally in per capita income, the state had lost the ability to employ many of its own college graduates, who were leaving by the thousands for opportunity in other parts of the country.
A group of visionary Tar Heels, including Greensboro construction company owner Romeo Guest, Governor Luther Hodges and Wachovia Bank Chairman Archie Davis, realized that the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, North Carolina State College in Raleigh, and Duke University in Durham were the drawing cards the state needed to attract modern industry.
Located on what was worn-out farmland described by locals as “nothing but scrub pine and possums,” Research Triangle Park is today the largest and most successful research park in the world. North Carolina’s economy now includes high-tech research and industry, and per capita income has risen dramatically.
“North Carolina’s Research Triangle Park: An Investment in the Future” examines the unique partnership between universities, industry and government that has transformed the entire state. Written, directed and produced by John Wilson and narrated by Goldsboro native Carl Kasell of National Public Radio, the documentary was the culmination of the Park’s 40th-anniversary observance. The film features Nobel Prize winner Gertrude Elion, former UNC president Bill Friday, former N.C. governor Jim Hunt, and many others.