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RTF bus tour visits Appalachian

BOONE—Representatives from Research Triangle Foundation (RTF) visited Appalachian State University Thursday as part of the Pathways to Opportunity bus tour, which includes stops in more than 20 N.C. cities or towns. The foundation manages Research Triangle Park (RTP).

RTF president and CEO Bob Geolas said a new master plan for Research Triangle Park includes reconnecting with the state’s communities and partnering to make the state competitive in the global marketplace.

While on campus, Geolas and other RTF representatives heard presentations about Appalachian’s initiatives focused on alternative energy and sustainable development, atmospheric research and improving health and fitness through a better understanding of the benefits of natural foods and supplements.

Geolas, who also is a graduate of Appalachian, envisions RTP as a link to resources across the state, including research occurring at the state’s universities, to inform and attract industry considering locating to North Carolina.

Geolas said that when Research Triangle Park was created 50 years ago, “North Carolina was struggling a great deal. There weren’t a lot of economic opportunities.” It was the efforts of prominent North Carolina leaders from the business and university sectors that lead to “something big, special and important for North Carolina,” he said.

Today, the 7,000-acre RTP campus is home to 170 companies, including Avaya, Cisco, Credit Suisse, GlaxoSmithKline, IBM, NetApp, RTI International and Syngenta. The park also provides incubator space for entrepreneurs and startups.

“Today we look at challenges that we face not unlike those we faced 50 years ago,” he said. “What are the next things that we do to propel our state forward?” he asked. By listening to education and business leaders across the state RTP will better understand how the park, educational institutions and businesses can work to help the state remain competitive in the international market, he said.

“We want to work with the universities, create jobs and improve the quality of life for all people of North Carolina,” Geolas said.

“What could be better than a partnership between Research Triangle Park and Appalachian,” said Michael Steinback, chairman of Appalachian’s Board of Trustees. “The common ties between the university and RTP are both institutions’ core mission and objectives – to advance education and jobs and enhance the quality of life in North Carolina. I can’t stress how important that is in these uncertain times,” he said.

“We are asking the same questions you are asking – how to better serve the people of North Carolina, how to best prepare a workforce for the future,” Chancellor Kenneth E. Peacock told Geolas. “We look forward to collaborating and working with you any way that we possibly can.”