Raleigh-based N.C. State University packs a powerful punch. A 2015 economic-impact study, commissioned by the UNC System, found that it added about $6.5 billion to the state's economy during the 2012-13 fiscal year. That includes $4.8 billion for the Triangle--Chatham, Durham, Franklin, Granville, Harnett, Johnston, Lee, Moore, Orange, Person, Vance, Wake and Warren counties.
But Wake County was the real winner, seeing $3.3 billion of it. That's equivalent to about 6% of the county's gross regional product.
N.C. State uses its Office of Partnerships and Economic Development to foster that impact. Michael Haley, executive director of Wake County Office of Economic Development, says the university is a good example of how academia, the private sector, government and nonprofits can work together to define challenges and create solutions. "N.C. State University and its partnerships ... are critical to what we do in Wake County. The university lives up to its role as a partner for us, and the Office of Partnerships is one of our first calls when we need help with new companies or existing companies. And they are always willing to work with us."
While the Office of Partnerships and Economic Development's work happens throughout the community, much of it is done on the university's Centennial Campus. Its mission is collaboration. Companies may locate on campus to take advantage of the university's research, experts and workforce resources. Together they overcome challenges and find ways to monetize discoveries.
Centennial Campus was established in 1984 when Gov. Jim Hunt carved 355 acres from the Dorothea Dix Hospital complex. A year later, Gov. Jim Martin's administration added 450 acres, and the UNC Board of Governors approved the university's request to develop Centennial Campus' master plan. Ground was broken in 1986.
Today, Centennial Campus covers about 1,230 acres. Its buildings offer nearly 5 million square feet of heated space, says Dennis Kekas, N.C. State's associate vice chancellor for partnerships and economic development. The campus looks like a beehive when school is in session; about 14,000 students attend classes here. More than 70 businesses, government agencies and nonprofits have offices on the campus, employing about 4,600 workers, he says. "Those companies either interned or hired 300 of our students and contributed $15 million in sponsored research in the past fiscal year. The value proposition for these companies to come to...