Why Morrisville? Insider look at a Triangle hotspot for new businesses and jobs
Editor’s note: Steve S. Rao is a member of the Morrisville City Council and a member of the Board of Directors of America’s New Economy, a bipartisan organization focused on the economic benefits of immigration reform. He also serves on the Race and Equity Task Force of the North Carolina League of Municipalities. Rao joins WRAL TechWire’s growing line of contributors. His messages will appear on Friday.
MORRISVILLE- In January 2021, Kane Realty announced plans to create a billion dollar pharmaceutical and life sciences innovation district in North Hills. the 33 acre neighborhood requires an unprecedented amount of natural open space (including outdoor work spaces), multi-family residential units, and a bustling, walkable ground floor with experiential and maker retail spaces.
At the time of this announcement, at a board meeting, I declared my interest in having a similar type of investment in Morrisville. That same month, during a virtual chamber meeting, I jokingly asked one of the panelists, real estate development icon John Kane, if he could make a similar investment in our city.
Well, this year my wish came true, at least for a life sciences campus in Morrisville.
New $1 billion life sciences campus in Morrisville: The Spark
A few weeks ago, Starwood Capital Group and Trinity Capital Advisors announced plans to develop Spark LS, a billion-dollar life sciences campus located in North Carolina’s Research Triangle in Morrisville.
The 109-acre development will be located at the intersection of McCrimmon Parkway and Airport Boulevard, four miles from Raleigh-Durham Airport and eight miles from Apple’s new billion-dollar office campus.
The 1.5 million square foot project is expected to include 12 to 15 buildings with lab and bio-manufacturing spaces, green spaces, restaurants, retail, a STEM education and amenity center and several multipurpose outdoor recreation areas.
Congratulations to our planning department, engaged citizens and council, who all worked so hard to approve our revised land use plan last year, resulting in such a groundbreaking investment in the McCrimmon area.
Morrisville welcomes the boom that Apple will bring
The city is already home to 10% of the state’s 100 public companies, including Syneos Health, Channel Advisor and Lenovo. Before the Covid pandemic, Credit Suisse, Cisco, Microsoft and Oracle brought more than 50,000 workers into the city every day. The revised land use plan allows for denser residential and mixed-use development, which will transform this area of the city into a mixed-use destination where residents can live, work and play. We need more areas like this in the city as we continue to experience growth. Such an ecosystem will make Morrisville a destination for market-leading science and technology companies and fuel the growth of start-ups in the region.
As rapid growth will continue to challenge us with increased traffic congestion and overcrowded schools, I am convinced that we must welcome well-paying jobs to Morrisville and view the live, work, play model as a way to dramatically increase our tax base, avoid short-term tax increases and require us to invest in and implement our affordable housing plan to deal with rising house prices.
One can’t help but notice that employment investment in Morrisville has accelerated significantly in 2021, with two of the six life sciences companies recruited in Wake County landing in our All America City.
In April 2021, San Francisco-based genomics company Invitae announced it would be moving into Stitch Office Park (Old Outlet Mall) in Morrisville, with plans to create 374 jobs and invest $1.4 million in the city. Invite’s announcement came just days after Apple announced plans for a billion-dollar campus in Research Triangle (3,000 jobs)
In December 2021, Science 37, a publicly traded research and development company, has announced that it will relocate its headquarters to Morrisville, creating some 250 new jobs over the next few years.
Let’s not forget Microsoft’s expansion in 2019, adding 500 jobs and a $47 billion investment to Morrisville’s vault.
Market-leading companies not only invest in Morrisville because of its convenient central location in the Triangle, but are also attracted to the highly skilled workforce, an increasingly diverse community, our commitment to innovation and world-class parks and restaurants.
Let me highlight some of the ways our city is at the forefront in these areas:
- The city’s recent Clean Tech Innovation Award for our Clean Tech Corridor Initiative, Smart City and Sustainability initiatives, and On Demand app-based transit service, Morrisville Smart Shuttle, are just a few examples of how we leverage innovation to improve the quality of life of our residents.
- Church Street Park is the home of our first professional cricket team, the Morrisville Cardinals, and the International Cricket Council hosted Team USA and other national teams last year at the USA Championships. Plans are already underway for an investment of over $2 million in the expansion of Church Street Park so the city can host World Cup qualifiers, which will attract more tourists and sports fans. from all over the country.
- Wake Tech RTP’s recent announcement of an early career STEM high school and the addition of their new Biotechnology Center will continue to provide our city with a competitive advantage by having one of the strongest workforces domestically educated and trained life science and technology companies. Our plans for a downtown project will begin this year, which could be a destination for start-up incubators and growing businesses.
- Finally, our designation as an All America City and our recent ranking by Niche and Stacker as the number one place to live in North Carolina continues to propel the city of Morrisville as a global destination for economic growth and opportunity.
During a very divisive time in our nation, I can’t think of a better place to live and work than a diverse and inclusive city that values innovation, education and quality of life for our residents. I’m sure many businesses across the country and around the world feel the same way.
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We need to force developers and businesses to invest in our city to pay for the construction of roads, parks and greenways. For example, in a conditional multi-family rezoning approved by Council last year, Dominion Realty invested more than $1 million in road construction, $800,000 in parks and $3.5 million in housing. affordable. Apple intends to establish a $100 million fund for transportation and school infrastructure. I hope Morrisville and Cary will be part of those conversations to solve an already worsening traffic congestion problem.
Ultimately, this development is expected to bring $800,000 to Morrisville and $81 million to the county. More money for police, firefighters, schools, transportation infrastructure, affordable housing, parks and services that improve the quality of life for our residents.
We know the growth will continue. We can’t stop it, but smart growth means balanced growth.
But we can be sure of one absolute truth:
The city of Morrisville has become a major engine of economic growth in North Carolina and the United States and a new home for market-leading life science companies.
In the highly competitive sport of economic development, we can compete and win against anyone.
Let the games begin. Stay tuned for an even more exciting 2022.
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