North Carolina's tech aspirations began to take shape with the opening of the Research Triangle Park in the center of the state in 1959. The 7,000-acre park - named for its proximity to and affiliation with Duke University in Durham, the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, and North Carolina State University in Raleigh - has grown to house 157 organizations, 132 of which are involved in research and development.
In its July/August 2007 issue, Fast Company magazine placed the Raleigh-Durham area among the world's Top 30 "Fast Cities" for research and development activities. These cities were lauded as "a location where investors, entrepreneurs, and employees can maximize their potential, establish prosperous businesses, and enjoy a good lifestyle."
Technology has spread throughout the state to include companies specializing in pharmaceutical, information technology, telecommunications, and other high-tech endeavors. Technology is enhancing traditional industries such as textiles and furniture manufacturing, and attracting newer industries such as nanotechnology and biotechnology.
North Carolina has established itself as a leader in nanotechnology with the state-of-the-art Triangle National Lithography Center on NC State's Centennial Campus, which allows researchers to conduct advanced studies in nanotechnology. The state's telecommunications, networking, and software development sector has more than 2,000 companies employing close to 200,000 highly skilled workers. Google, Dell, IBM, Sony Ericsson, and Cisco Systems are a few of the companies operating within the state's borders.
Google plans to locate a new $600 million data center in Lenoir to support the firm's online operations, creating as many as 210 jobs during the next four years. The average wage is expected to be more than $48,300, not including benefits, substantially more than the county average of $27,300, according to Governor Michael F. Easley's office.
North Carolina-based companies manufacture digital switches, fiber optic cable, network gear, cell towers, and other equipment, as well as hosting global network infrastructure leaders and software companies. More than 550 software companies, including EDS, Red Hat, and SAS, Inc., employ more than 15,000 North Carolina residents.
An established leader in biotechnology, North Carolina is home to some of the world's largest biotech and pharmaceutical companies, including GlaxoSmithKline, Merck, Novartis, Wyeth Vaccines, and Novo Nordisk.
The state encourages entrepreneurship and innovation through various organizations, including the N.C. Technology Association, the Council for Entrepreneurial Development, and the N.C. Board of Science and Technology, which administers a fund to give entrepreneurs the resources to pursue original, pioneering ideas.