FORREST COMMUNITY FOCUS: ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT ENTITIES IN THE TRIANGLE

A couple of weeks ago, we began a series of posts to serve as resources to our clients and friends with regard to business resources in the Triangle.  In that inaugural piece, we focused on resources for startups, a key component of our client roster here at the Forrest Firm.

This week, we’ll take a minute to highlight some of the economic development entities in the Triangle that are poised to make an ongoing difference for entrepreneurs and executives at companies of all sizes, across multiple industries, and in various stages of the business life cycle.  As with the world of startups, the Triangle has a wealth of entities, ranging from government agencies to private organizations and public/private partnerships that work individually and collaboratively to attract, retain, and assist companies and their leaders in their work in the Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill area.

Greater Durham Chamber of Commerce

As the staff at the Durham Chamber likes to say, they “are not your father’s chamber of commerce.”  Far removed from the staid business clubs of yesteryear, the Chamber leadership in Durham has committed itself to economic development efforts that challenge the status quo (some of the DC’s recent successes include the Smoffice, the world’s largest networking event, and the Startup Stampede).  James Forrest, principal attorney and founder of the Forrest Firm, has served on the Durham Chamber’s board of directors for the last two years.

“In many areas, Chamber membership is pretty optional when it comes to achieving your business objectives, particularly for small and mid-sized businesses,” asserted Forrest.  “In Durham, belonging to the Chamber is not only essential to the health of your business, it’s fun and rewarding on other levels as well, as you see the high tide created by the Chamber’s work lift all of the other boats around you.”

Research Triangle Regional Partnership

The Research Triangle Regional Partnership is probably best-described as a “mega-partnership,” as it unites government agencies and private groups from across a 13-county region.  The RTRP’s mission is to keep the Triangle area economically-competitive and business-driven in its activities, and the group works a multi-year strategy to market the area accordingly.

The group provides a multiple tools to help companies and their business partners do business in the Triangle featuring marketing resources and reports on how the Partnership and Triangle companies are shaping the area’s future in multiple positive ways, including job growth in key sectors.  The Research Triangle Regional Partnership also maintains a running schedule of its corporate recruiting team’s busy itinerary; RTFP economic developers are already slated to appear in early 2014 in Boston, San Diego, Denver, and San Antonio to meet with site selection consultants and recruit cleantech, green building, and biotechnology companies, in addition to overseas work in Paris and Zurich for trade missions and meeting with select companies interested in doing business in North Carolina.

Orange County Economic Development

All too often, people in the Raleigh and Durham business communities tend to forget about commerce in our more rural neighbor to the west, Orange County.  The county’s Economic Development Department is working hard in multiple ways to make doing business in Orange County more attractive. Orange County ED offers key resources for business of all sizes, including information on available commercial real estate in Hillsborough, Carrboro, Chapel Hill and unincorporated areas, down to size and asking rent price based on available square footage.

The department’s relocation and expansion and team assists businesses moving to or expanding within Orange County on a variety of fronts, including location siting, licensing and taxing help, and working with companies on business loan requests.  Perhaps the greatest resource on offer from Orange County ED, particularly for small and growing businesses, is its administration of the Orange County Small Business Loan Program.  Available to county residents with at least a 15 percent ownership stake in companies with annual revenue no greater than $3 million, the Small Business Loan Program has funded companies in industries as diverse as consumer goods manufacturing, craft brewing, janitorial services, and entertainment and dining.

Stay tuned to this space for future updates on more Triangle entities here to help our businesses grow.