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By EMILY FORD, Salisbury Post

(Note: This is the first of two stories about the creation and development of the N.C. Research Campus which was announced in 2005. )

KANNAPOLIS, N.C. – In the beginning, the had mostly naysayers.

Few believed David Murdock’s audacious vision of building the world’s most complete life sciences complex on the ruins of a textile mill could become a reality. But as the Research Campus began to take shape, critics started to reconsider.

State leaders from across the country even called Murdock, asking him to move the project from downtown Kannapolis.

Dr. Steven Leath, one of the founding fathers of the campus and vice president for research for the University of North Carolina System, said California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger called Murdock and asked, "Why are you doing it in North Carolina? Why don’t you do it here?"

Leath, who worked in Kannapolis for N.C. State University before UNC President Erskine Bowles tapped him to oversee the project, detailed the challenges of creating the Research Campus while delivering the first lecture last week in a series called "The New New South." The series is examining the economic, social and cultural forces in the South.