Doing Business in Apex

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Business recruiting targets entrepreneurs, start-ups, small businesses

Start with a location brimming with talented people, research universities and transportation. Mix in prime space ready for development and some innovative recruitment strategies such as co-share business spaces. The result is a booming economy in a town named Apex.

Apex is situated inside the distinguished Research Triangle area, which encompasses Raleigh and Durham, and is just minutes from three Tier 1 Research universities: the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, North Carolina State University and Duke University. Sixty percent of the workforce hold bachelor’s degrees.

“Apex has a great vibe and energy, plus a high median income that makes it very desirable for both start-up businesses/entrepreneurs and retail/commercial businesses,” said Joanna Helms, the town’s director of economic development. “Industry seeks our community for its access to talent and the research initiatives at nearby universities and the Research Triangle Park.”

Just 15 minutes away, the Raleigh-Durham International Airport just 15 minutes away handles more than 400 daily flights to 40 destinations.

“We are increasing our focus on entrepreneurial, start-up and small-business development,” Helms said. “We’ve got a new ‘coworking space’ that will open in downtown Apex later in 2019. We’re looking to create a collaborative space for entrepreneurs and start-ups with a focus on the IT sector.”

“The town also has been a main partner in the LaunchAPEX initiative,” Helms said. “LaunchAPEX is based off the national model of ‘LaunchMyCity.’ This program provides business training, networking, mentoring and access to micro-loans for small businesses, start-ups and entrepreneurs.

“LaunchAPEX graduated our first cohort in fall 2018 and our second cohort in spring 2019. This resulted in us ‘launching’ 22 Main Street-type businesses in Apex. Moving forward, the plan is to offer the program in the fall of each year. Wake Technical Community College is the training partner. Other partners are the local Rotary Clubs and the Apex Chamber.”

Another magnet for economic growth is a new 121-acre industrial and business park called the Cash Corporate Center. “There are multiple ways the site could be developed,” Helms said. “We might end up with 10 or so companies each on 10-acre sites, four companies on 25-acre sites, or we could land a large life sciences company that wants to acquire the whole site to create a campus for their company. Target industry sectors for the Cash Corporate Center include life sciences, advanced manufacturing and IT.”

The Town Council also recently approved a new incentive policy – the Apex Development Investment Grant – that will refund up to 90 percent of the taxes a business pays for a certain period if the firm meets certain criteria, such as creating at least 20 jobs and investing at least $3 million. One of the first beneficiaries is Pentair, a designer and manufacturer of pool and spa products that opened a 50,000-square-foot “Innovation Center” for research and development in 2019.