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Web site editor says not enough people know about N.C. Research Campus

By Emily Ford
Salisbury Post
KANNAPOLISóNot enough people know about the N.C. Research Campus, according to the editor of a Web site that covers the biotechnology industry in North Carolina.
“I don’t think what’s happening here is explained across the state,” said Rick Smith, editor of WRAL Local Tech Wire. “This is something we may never see again develop from the ground floor.”
The Research Campus and Smith’s Web site hosted an event Thursday night in Kannapolis. About 100 people in business and academics gathered to network and hear from campus developer Castle & Cooke North Carolina.
The investment and job potential at the $1.5 billion N.C. Research Campus deserve more recognition, Smith said.
He pointed to Gov. Mike Easley’s recent comment that Global TransPark is the “best thing we’ve got going in North Carolina.”
While Global TransPark, a controversial economic development project in Kinston, will provide 1,000 jobs, the N.C. Research Campus is expected to generate 5,000 jobs.
The 350-acre Research Campus, the brainchild of California billionaire David H. Murdock, should create an additional 32,000 non-technical jobs in fields like law and marketing, said Clyde Higgs, vice president of business development for Castle & Cooke.
These ancillary companies soon can pitch their services on the Research Campus Web site, Higgs said.
Within a month, the campus will launch a “partners program,” including a page on the campus Web site for links to ancillary companies, he said.
The Web site, www.ncresearchcampus.net, also will offer a way for people to apply for jobs with the universities and biotech companies that have partnered with the campus.
Currently, the campus is accepting resumes at a general e-mail address, ncrcopps @carolina.rr.com.
All the universities at the Research Campus are hiring or will be soon, said Lynne Scott Safrit, president of Castle & Cooke.
Safrit called 2008 “the year of people.”
Murdock broke ground for the campus in 2006. Since then, the old textile mill where the campus now stands has been demolished and three massive buildings expected to open this fall have been constructed.
But Safrit said 2008 will be the most exciting time yet.
She hinted at additional corporate partners, after the recent announcement that a contract research organization called PPD would join the campus and create up to 300 new jobs.
“If I told you all of the people Clyde is talking to right now, you’d be pretty excited,” Safrit said.
The Research Campus features close collaborations between universities and industry, Higgs said.
N.C. State University and Dole Food Co., which Murdock owns, will share a 110,000-square-foot building on the campus and work together on new agricultural products.
“The seamless system between N.C. State researchers and Dole researchers ó that’s a big deal,” Higgs said.
He will use that model across the campus and is looking for a company to partner with Duke University, which will conduct a groundbreaking medical research study in Kannapolis.
News about the Research Campus is spreading, perhaps slower than expected. Half a dozen companies and seven universities have a presence on campus, and Appalachian State University plans to join this fall.
The campus received a nod in the April 16 issue of “Nature.” The scientific journal featured an article about the proliferation of biotechnology parks in North Carolina as the Research Triangle Park turns 50 years old.
Higgs still urged guests on Thursday night to spread the word about the Research Campus.
“You are one of our best marketing tools,” he said.
Contact Emily Ford at eford@salisburypost.com.

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