The Research Triangle Park is turning 50 years old.
The News and Observer, the local Raleigh newspaper, is running an occasional series interviewing the people who helped create the Research Triangle Park (RTP). The articles are on-line but unfortunately kind of hard to find. They're organized under two series, History of Research Triangle Park and Research Triangle Park, but they don't list the article from today, "'This area was just ripe'."
I believe that the RTP is one of the great American success stories, certainly for the state of North Carolina and probably for the American high-tech industry in general. Whereas the Silicon Valley in California developed more organically, RTP was deliberately planned through cooperation between government and industry to create a business environment that would lure high-tech companies to the area. The companies in turn offered students with advanced degrees from the area's universities to find jobs and stay in the area, and has attracted well-educated and highly-paid tech professionals to move to the area (like me). These companies and workers are definitely beneficial to the area's tax base and standard of living. I don't know how much that has helped the natives and others locals that don't have advanced educations, although professionals with disposable income generally help an area's service industries, construction, transportation, etc.
RTP has been much more successful than similar efforts like Boston's Route 128 and Austin's Silicon Gulch. Silicon Valley tends to be more entrepreneurial and fueled by venture capital, whereas RTP is populated predominately by large, established corporations with significant R&D efforts that they locate in the Park for the tax breaks and workforce. RTP is also becoming a good place for Silicon Valley companies to create an East Coast presence; Cisco Systems has its second largest set of offices in RTP; Sun Microsystems, Google, and Microsoft also have offices in RTP; IBM has its largest software lab and generally large number of offices in RTP. RTP has also become an unofficial capitol for the drug develelopment industry (Glaxo, Quintiles, etc.).
The folks who started RTP 50 years ago were quite visionary. North Carolina, the US, and the high-tech industry in general have benefited greatly.