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

Attracting new business and being a hub where newcomers can thrive is an essential part of strategic economic growth. Equally important, however, is cultivating an atmosphere where homegrown businesses can prosper and grow.

The Town of Wake Forest works hard to embody this duality.

“Many of Wake Forest’s largest companies have launched and grown in Wake Forest. While the town hopes to continue to attract outside business, we also realize that part of Wake Forest’s unique story is how it’s supported its homegrown businesses and paved the way for local entrepreneurial success,” said Jason Cannon, president of the Wake Forest Business & Industry Partnership.

One of Wake Forest’s most well-known homegrown businesses is PowerSecure. While still headquartered in Wake Forest, the international company builds 87 percent of the power grids in the United States. Recently retired CEO Sidney Hinton said he chose Wake Forest simply because he loves the people and the community.

When it comes to the community, Wake Forest’s resident population has tripled since 2000. Its recreational and professional amenities, family-friendly atmosphere, proximity to other areas of the Research Triangle and cost of living make it a place that’s not only beneficial to business owners and citizens, but also highly desirable.

Wake Forest’s citizens continue to be some of the most educated in the region, with 55 percent having at least a bachelor’s degree or higher; 20 percent have a master’s degree. Additionally, places like the state-of-the-art Wireless Research Center and the town’s emphasis on tech, give businesses access to growth-oriented resources they can’t find elsewhere.

The town’s resources are what draw people in and its quality-of-life is what makes people stay.

John Jamieson moved to the Triangle from Washington, D.C., in 2004. With a background in the defense industry, he started a small engineering services business that specialized in system design, integration and delivery of technology solutions to the Department of Defense. Originally he considered setting up shop in Raleigh, but realized that Wake Forest would be the better fit for his business.

“I decided that Wake Forest was more cost-effective and a better fit for me as a small business. I think Wake Forest has this sort of small-town feel, but big town capabilities and features — you have everything you need here,” Jamieson said.

His business, 3 Phoenix, quickly grew and so did his needs. Wake Forest delivered on the specialized laboratory space, electronic lab capabilities, workforce requirements and a location to support it all.

“I felt really comfortable working with Wake Forest to make it happen — I was able to talk to the mayor if I needed to. Try doing that in Raleigh,” he mused.

Ultra Electronics bought 3 Phoenix in 2014, partially as a result of the once “small business” becoming a key player against medium- and larger-sized businesses in the industry. Jamieson, who serves as a senior advisor for the company, said it was the right move and time to sell. The growth and transformation of 3 Phoenix to Ultra Electronics-Ocean Systems (with which it merged) is evidence that if you cultivate a homegrown business in Wake Forest, it can certainly thrive.

Phil Radford is the CEO and founder of Radeas Labs, a clinical laboratory that analytically tests medical samples. It has specificity capabilities found in very few other labs across the country, and according to Radford, it can “get data out really fast compared to the competition with really high levels of accuracy.”

Radford moved to Wake Forest in 2013 and said one of the things that drew him to town was its beauty.

“You’ve got lakes, parks, greenway access, water. Our office is located at Gateway Commons and I’ve got one side of our building on the greenway and on the other side of the building is Heritage subdivision,” Radford said. “Kitty-corner to us is the reservoir, which has trails and water features. From a community standpoint, Wake Forest is beautiful and it’s why everybody wants to live here.”

From an employee standpoint, Radford said Wake Forest is affordable, has a strong workforce and can offer employees the quality of life they want and deserve. Radford loves that he’s close to restaurants and amenities, but still able to work inside of an innovative and cutting-edge laboratory.

Radeas Labs recently expanded into a 25,000-square-foot self-constructed building. Additionally, the building has spaces for current and former employees to establish new business inside of Radeas.

“I think every person who has had the experience of being an entrepreneur and creating something gets excited when other people can see their dreams fulfilled. Part of the genetics of our company is that when employees have an idea, we want to have them thrown into that idea and see if it will work,” Radford explained. “We want to be a place where ideas have a chance to grow and thrive.”

When it comes to idea sharing, that’s something Jamieson also noted about the fabric of the business community in Wake Forest.

“There were a lot of other small businesses here that we could team up with. We are able to find local businesses that ended up making really good teammates — it ended up making us more attractive to be purchased and we ended up going after bigger contracts,” he said.

Cannon emphasized the power of collaboration in the local business community.

“Businesses here really care about other businesses being successful — they want to help one another. There’s just a great sense of community here,” he said.

Looking toward the future, Wake Forest will continue to nurture its homegrown businesses and is aggressively pursuing private partnerships to establish an entrepreneurial incubator in downtown with details it plans to announce soon.

Added Cannon, “The town wants to provide a tremendous quality of life, cultural opportunities and recreational opportunities. All of these things are very important for business owners and their families. But at the same time, we really try to make the environment that we cultivate with our business community just fluid and comfortable. We want to be approachable. We want to be a partner.”

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