The Triangle perpetually receives national kudos for its booming business climate and desirable quality of life. While the area’s Research Triangle Park garners much of that attention, Chapel Hill on its own offers a compelling pro-business environment capable of supporting enterprises of all sizes.
“Twenty-first century economic development is about attracting workers first and then the companies will follow,” said Dwight Bassett, economic development officer for the Town of Chapel Hill. “Chapel Hill offers an unparalleled quality of life for workers and their families, and when coupled with our strategic initiatives over the past 10 years, we’ve built the ideal environment for companies to grow and thrive.”
In recent years, the town has focused on creating more flexible office spaces and a supportive startup community. Launch Chapel Hill was cofounded by the Town of Chapel Hill, Orange County and UNC-Chapel Hill in 2013 to provide co-working space and resources for businesses in Orange County. With a strong network of supportive partners and mentors, Launch is maximizing the potential of startups and creating local jobs.
Since its founding, Launch has helped create 25 companies that have chosen to establish their headquarters in Chapel Hill, where they currently employ more than 200 people. In 2018 alone, startups graduating from Launch’s program raised nearly $13 million from investors and made more than $20 million in revenue.
Just down the road, UNC students can pursue their entrepreneurial endeavors at 1789, a coworking space offered through the university’s Innovate Carolina program. 1789 is founded on the power of bringing people together, so in addition to workspace, it also offers workshops, office hours, events and classes.
“1789 is unique from other entrepreneurial spaces because it has no entry requirements other than to be a UNC-Chapel Hill student interested in exploring ideas that might end up having social and/or economic value,” explained Judith Cone, vice chancellor for Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Economic Development at The University of North Carolina. “1789 is a place to explore opportunities, generate ideas, learn how to evaluate them, and move good ideas forward.”
As Chapel Hill looks to nurture entrepreneurship and establish more hubs across town, Glen Lennox is excited to bring its first Class-A commercial space to the market in 2020. The Gwendolyn will be situated amidst a vibrant walkable community with dining, shopping and living options, providing a unique sense of place that inspires creativity and productivity.
The region benefits from a highly educated workforce—boasting one of the highest concentrations of PhDs in the nation. For Chapel Hill’s largest employers, including the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC), the UNC Health Care System and Chapel Hill-Carrboro City School System, this ensures a healthy pipeline of talent.
Just beyond Chapel Hill’s boundaries are the internationally acclaimed Research Triangle Park, Duke University, North Carolina State University and a host of other commercial and entrepreneurial hubs, as well as the future site of Chatham Park, a large-scale residential and commercial community.
While Chapel Hill may be the smallest of the Triangle’s three towns, it’s a dynamic place that’s equipped—and eager—to support corporations, startups and individuals with the next big idea.