By the Wake Forest Business & Industry Partnership
It’s not unusual in Wake Forest’s corner of the Triangle to hear “opportunity is as abundant as community.” That speaks to the town’s growing diversity, its variety of recreational opportunities, and the rich mix of retail destinations it offers, including charming local shops as well as popular national retailers. It also speaks particularly to the unique and robust business ecosystem scattered throughout the town, claiming space in business and industrial parks, downtown incubators, Class A office suites, and even residential bonus rooms and garages.
“Wake Forest’s workforce is over 24% more educated than the rest of the country,” said Jason Cannon, president of the Wake Forest Business & Industry Partnership. “It only makes sense that we’d reflect the tech boom happening across the Triangle. We have the workforce to support advanced tech jobs, a lifestyle that is more than desirable for singles, young families, grandparents moving closer to grandkids, and all those in between. We have abundant greenways, parks and nearby Falls Lake with amazing hiking trails, an historic downtown that attracts 10,000-plus people for events, award-winning coffee roasters and breweries, and so much more that has created a place that is booming for business during work hours and after.”
While the Triangle is known for the presence of “big fish” companies like Lenovo, IBM and Cisco, Wake Forest boasts a unique twist on its thriving tech economy. In lieu of corporate headquarters—although a few have made their home here—the story of business development in Wake Forest is one of homegrown, entrepreneurial success. Many of the community’s most successful companies, including Ultra Maritime, the Wireless Research Center, and Radeas Labs, got their start in Wake Forest. Often launching from home garages, more than a few Wake Forest-grown businesses now find that their influence has global reach.
The Wireless Research Center boasts one of the world’s most sophisticated anechoic chambers—used for advanced testing on wireless capabilities—and has helped launch more than 80 startup companies. The WRC is a hub for local and global companies to come and test future technologies. Ultra Maritime creates high-tech sonar, radar and acoustic defense systems for the Department of Defense and U.S. allies globally, while Radeas Labs currently operates as a leader in Wake County’s fight against COVID-19 through its operation of an expansive network of virus testing sites across the northern part of the county. In addition, any number of entrepreneurs and businesses in Wake Forest can readily be found pioneering new innovations and developing technology ranging from green tech to biotech to the software of the future.
One factor ensuring Wake Forest remains a key contributor to the Research Triangle Region’s tech boom is what the town has deemed its “infrastructure of innovation.” In the same way that communities require infrastructure like roads, sewer and electrical lines in order to grow and succeed, leaders with the Town of Wake Forest are committed to providing entrepreneurs and businesses with the resources they need to really thrive, as well. This innovation infrastructure helps provide members of the business community with quality-of-life amenities like parks, greenways, and dozens of fun town-sponsored events and activities each year. This is in addition to supporting technological advancements like expanded fiber infrastructure, business resources like a robust culture of mentorship, workspace opportunities—like the soon-to-launch downtown incubator and coworking space, Loading Dock Wake Forest—and the 200-acre, mixed-use technology park being developed by the Wake Forest Business & Industry Partnership.
Expected to surpass 50,000 residents this year, Wake Forest has approached its rapid growth strategically, providing access, connectivity and the energy of a big city—all while maintaining its small-town charm.