By Laurie Paolicelli
A trend we’ve noted at the Chapel Hill/Orange County Welcome Center is the strong demand for housing and desire to relocate and retire to the Triangle, including Orange County. These visitors come from every part of the United States; clearly North Carolina and the Research Triangle Park are in demand. Known as “the Triangle” for its three main cities — Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill — and its centrally-located research center, the area continues to attract a significant number of newcomers due to its mass appeal for growing families, retirees, and college students.
The Chapel Hill/Orange County Visitors Bureau is funded by Orange County to promote Orange County. And yet we take all comers: if you have a question about Duke Gardens or a Durham Bulls game (in Durham County), or the Raleigh Museum of Fine Arts (in Wake County), we will be happy to answer them. Orange County leaders believe in kindness, service, and helping visitors navigate this area, even though we think Carolina blue beats Duke Blue any day of the week and we will tell you so.
Several years ago, our colleague and friend, Reyn Bowman, the former executive director of the Durham Convention and Visitors Bureau, emphasized the spirit of cooperation and “coopetition,” which is simply collaboration between business competitors, in the hope of mutually beneficial results.
The three main Visitors Bureaus in this area work together on tourism boards and stay in touch on each other’s changing amenities.
“There’s no question that we are here to market the assets of Raleigh first,” says Dennis Edwards, CEO of the Raleigh Convention and Visitors Bureau, “but we also are generous with questions we receive about a Bull’s Game or UNC, as an example, because when we all promote the beauty of the Triangle, we all win and so do our businesses. Plus, that’s where the ‘warm, southern hospitality’ ethos begins and ends. We are helpful people.”
Raleigh offers the amenities of a big city, yet has a distinct small-town, Southern charm. Durham is an old tobacco town that’s grown into a metropolitan area with world-class eateries and start-ups. Chapel Hill offers a college town vibe with a youthful nightlife. But these cities are just the start of all the area offers. The suburbs surrounding the area span from quaint, historic towns to growing, family-friendly communities, making it easy to find your perfect place within the Triangle.
Duke Gardens draw tens of thousands of annual guests and The WRAL Azalea Gardens, created by Capitol Broadcasting Company founder A. J. Fletcher is packed with thousands of azaleas, along with other native favorites. The 1.5-acre garden is a hidden gem located just a hop, skip and a jump from Dorothea Dix Park, Pullen Park and the campus at North Carolina State University
Real talk? At the end of the day, we still love Orange County the best. We study it, tour it, write about it, and celebrate its beauty every single day. Our three main communities of Chapel Hill, Carrboro, and Hillsborough are rich in history, progressive forward-thinking policies, nature, and quirky fun.
To celebrate the changing business community, we produced this video. We hope you love it. And yes, please send your weddings, business meetings, and reunions to Orange County. We will continue to distribute the Visit NC guide and boast about all our state has to offer — all the while giving tours of our backyard.
Because Orange County is lucky: we’re smack dab in the middle of everything. The mountains are just to our left, the beach to the right; DPAC is just around the corner, and if you want to catch a Cane’s game, hop on I-40 and you’re there. Live here, visit there, and you can have it all.
Growth in Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill, NC
The “Triangle” name originated in the 1950s with the creation of Research Triangle Park, located between the three anchor cities and home to numerous high tech companies.
Ten years from now, the population of North Carolina’s Research Triangle is poised to more than eclipse the current population of the Charlotte, NC, metro area.
A new LawnStarter analysis of county-by-county projections from the North Carolina Office of State Budget and Management indicates the population of the 12-county Research Triangle region will be 2,636,162 in July 2027.
In 2021, Apple announced a new campus and engineering hub will be built in the Research Triangle Park in Wake County. The campus will include 3,000 new jobs.
The scale: In terms of size, the campus will be 1 million square feet and located near Cisco and Parkside Town Commons in unincorporated county land near both Cary and Morrisville.
Laurie Paolicelli is the Executive Director of the Chapel Hill/Orange County Visitors Bureau.