The Research Triangle Park

Building to Billions

By Subscriber Oct 24, 2013

The latest company to make a major investment in its RTP site is Bayer CropScience, who last week embarked on a renovation of its core building complex that dates back to the 1980’s. A new modernized work environment will allow Bayer to increase its headcount by 100+ over the next few years. This latest upgrade joins a round of RTP-focused capital projects that together represent over $1 billion of investment in the past 5 years alone!

Bayer is hardly new to campus expansions. In 2011 they built a 20,000 sq ft state-of-the-art greenhouse, then followed it up with construction of a 40,000 sq ft research facility. On smaller scale but twice as fun, their North American Bee Care Center is also coming along nicely. All told, the Bayer has invested over $70 million in its RTP campus these last few years, including the $33 million being budgeted for this latest round of renovations.

Do these 4 major construction projects, plus the purchase of additional land in 2012, make Bayer the star player of RTP? Well in fact, we have a trio of large agricultural biotech companies that are each in growth mode (and we aren’t just talking crops). Syngenta opened its latest 1-acre greenhouse in May, and announced a new office/lab building in July. Similarly, BASF wrapped up a greenhouse expansion in September and is currently mulling plans for a new office building. All three of these companies have sites around the world that are each considered whenever an expansion is in the works. The Research Triangle Park, with our formidable regional talent and desirable quality of life, consistently ins out.

Agriculture is certainly a vibrant sector in RTP, not to mention a staple industry for our region. But it’s not the whole story. Since 2008, RTP has seen numerous data centers built by the likes of Cisco, NetApp, and Compass Datacenters (the first ‘multi-tenant’ model in the Park). IBM alone invested over $300 million to convert manufacturing space into a giant LEED Gold data center.

Pharmaceutical companies aren’t being left behind either, as new facilities have gone up on the campuses of United Therapeutics and Biogen Idec. At the intersection of pharma and crop research, we have Medicago’s recently completed greenhouses where flu vaccines are grown on tobacco leaves. And we can round out the list with a pair of new office buildings at RTI International, new building wings for the NC Biotechnology Center and the Statistical and Applied Mathematical Sciences Institute, and oh yes the extensive renovations of a former Nortel office complex to create the regional hub for Fidelity Investments.

When you add it all up, the money spent on new square footage and new upfits since 2008 tops a billion. As in 9 zeros. As in multiple projects under construction at a time in each of the last 5 years. In terms of space, we’re talking over 1.5 million square feet of new offices, labs, data centers and greenhouses (not counting several buildings still in the planning stages).

But relating this back to the core mission of RTP, what this really means is job creation. Over 1,500 new jobs were announced alongside these projects. Several of these companies are already exceeding their targets. Companies like Bayer, BASF and Fidelity are housing more of their corporate divisions in RTP, laying the groundwork for more jobs to come.

In short, there is strong momentum for growth in the Research Triangle Park. Renovations at Bayer CropScience are the latest indication that we aren’t slowing down. By the time their modernization effort wraps up in 2015, we may be well on our way to another billion.