North Carolina Economic Development Guide

2015

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berry, its vice-president of global smart- grid strategy, says the Triangle is among the elite clean-tech regions, along with Boston, Toronto, San Francisco and Boulder and Fort Collins, Colo. But "more than anything else," he wants Triangle governments and companies to start "putting our money where our mouth is. Putting real things on the ground that can be measured and can prove the [return on investment] of clean tech." That has started. Schneider created a traffc-management plan for the town of Cary, and Cisco provides a lot of the backbone for the Triangle's continued development, according to RTCC. But the Triangle needs a marquee clean-tech project. "We still tend to fnd a better market in Silicon Valley," PlotWatt's Fishback says. "Places where utilities are better incentivized to offer programs like ours." Randolph Wheatley, executive vice president of marketing at Sensus, agrees. "There's no reason all the utilities in this area don't make use of these tech- nologies." Chatham Park may give them a reason. The population of fve Triangle counties — Chatham, Durham, Johnston, Orange and Wake — will increase by as much as 1.5 million over the next 20 years. It's now 1.6 million, according to the N.C. Offce of State Budget and Management. That's a lot of people, vehicles, resource demand and environmental impact. One partial solution to handling the expected surge is Chatham Park, a mammoth planned community in Pittsboro, the Chatham County seat. Cary-based Preston Development Co. is overseeing the project, which is receiving its fnancial backing — estimated at $3 billion over 30 years — from James Goodnight, CEO of Cary- based SAS Institute Inc. At capacity, Chatham Park would have more than 50,000 residents in 22,000 housing units, 20 million square feet of nonresidential space, fve retail centers and 2,000 acres of open space. Chapel Hill-based UNC Health Care has said it will build a hospital there, and plans include workplaces for technology companies. "Chatham Park could be a test bed for smart-grid tech- nologies," says ABB's Rackliffe. Chatham Park could be the marquee project Henneberry wants, but taking advantage of it won't be simple. "That development is 30, 40 years in span. They don't want to get 20 years down the road and say, 'Whoops, we should have done this from the very start.' That's a very tough plan, because nobody knows what they don't know." Despite the challenge, it will bring opportunity to showcase clean-tech capabilities and how they were created in the region. "That's why we're working together on things like Chatham Park," RTCC's Vinson says. "So we can learn from them, but also so we can show people the payoffs."

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