This story was written for WRAL TechWire Innovator partner the Wake Forest Business Industry Partnership.

Municipalities are often encouraged to “think local” as the support of local businesses and entrepreneurship is what makes local economies thrive. Towns like Wake Forest, know this.

The Wake Forest Business and Industry Partnership is a 501(c)3 nonprofit that promotes the town as a destination for business and industry through economic development activities. Additionally, the Wireless Research Center, which is based in Wake Forest, has helped launch more than 20 local businesses and further facilitated the launch of 80 more across the region.

Both the WRC and the WFBIP are just two examples of what’s propelling the ninth fastest-growing municipality in North Carolina.

“While it’s important to look at growth and success through a local lens, it’s also valuable to look at how local businesses and enterprises are making an impact on the world-at-large,” said Jason Cannon, president of WFBIP. “Here in town we have several businesses that call Wake Forest home who are doing just that.”

Rich Brancaccio, CEO and founder of Revibe Technologies, said the WRC has been “absolutely monumental” in Revibe’s trajectory. After outgrowing Durham’s N.C. IDEA Labs (formerly Groundwork Labs), Brancaccio wanted to take his concept and plan for wearable technology and turn it into a business.

“We came to the Wireless Research Center in 2014,” he said. “We had some prototypes but didn’t have a business yet. I wondered where we could go to cultivate a piece of hardware that ultimately could be a connected device. Everybody told me to go to the Wireless Research Center in Wake Forest.”

Revibe Technologies develops wearable technology that helps people with focus and learning challenges. Brancaccio, a former school psychologist, wanted to create a product that helped students with attention disorders like ADD and ADHD increase focus, productivity and on-task behavior.

The research-based wrist wearable (a Fitbit-like device) helps users maintain focus and attention through vibration reminders. For example, “Homework Mode” uses reminder vibrations to keep students working for 15-minute intervals, with five-minute, focus-boosting breaks in between.

In 2017, Revibe received a grant from the U.S. Department of Education to fund its second product, Revibe Connect, which now connects to a focus-tracking app.

“It’s been a fun project. We did a pilot study on Revibe Connect here in the Wake County Public School System in the summer of 2017, and we continued working on the iteration of the product,” Brancaccio explained. “We partnered with one of the world leaders in critical assessment, which is called Multi Health Systems. MHS is located up in Toronto, Canada. We partnered with them, and we actually just finally launched the product in December.”

It’s recognition from leading national organizations and international partnerships that show the impact Revibe Technologies is having beyond the Wake Forest demographic. Brancaccio is proof that a good idea with the right tools and the support of the local community can make its mark.

“The easiest aspect of a successful business to overlook is the connections to people. The best place I know for hardware is here in Wake Forest because of the WRC,” Brancaccio opined. “I’ve made so many connections and bumped elbows with people coming through here — huge leaders for Fortune 500 companies. The town has been great too; it’s always trying to foster growth in its startups, particularly in its tech startups here.”

David McWilliams, CEO and founder of Wake Forest-based startup Sugar Maple Interactive, mentioned the support of the town in regard to his company and its initiative REACH.

“Jason [Cannon] and the team at the Wake Forest Business & Industry Partnership have been great to work with as our business has grown,” he said. “They have been able to connect us with other growing businesses in the area and offer advice when researching issues like adding office space or staffing.”

REACH uses a niche-interest software service that helps manage nonprofit donations and donors, child sponsorship, text-to-give campaigns and fundraising efforts. It has a diverse client base of more than 200 international organizations in more than 40 countries. There are more 75,000 sponsorships that provide anything from education and medical care, to basic needs such as food, clothing and hygiene products.

Some of the nonprofits using REACH include Sunica, a Raleigh-based organization that raises funds to provide sponsorship to Nicaraguans to help them thrive through access to clean water, education and economic opportunities.

Another, 2nd Milk, uses REACH to raise funds to provide formula and nutrition to malnourished and orphaned infants in Africa and around the world.

Agua Viva Children’s Home uses REACH to sponsor Guatemalan children who are usually placed in the home voluntarily by their family due to poverty and safety issues. The home provides food, shelter, healthcare and education in a safe environment.

When you pass Sugar Maple Interactive offices off South White Street in Wake Forest, keep in mind all the global good that’s happening from the unassuming brick building.

“When we started the company, we wanted to build a business culture where we could provide our employees with the opportunity to stay with us long-term, or could help train them and lead them to grow in their talents to serve where called,” McWilliams said. “Having our offices located in a town like Wake Forest has added to that purpose because it is such a great place to live, receive an education and raise a family.”

Brancaccio also mentioned the pool of talent in Wake Forest as a great reason for a local company looking to make a lasting impact to set down roots.

“There are a ton of talented people who live here in Wake Forest and [companies] see these people,” he said. “We have the people here, we have the infrastructure. Why not get more businesses here to connect all the dots?”

This story was written for WRAL TechWire Innovator partner the Wake Forest Business Industry Partnership.