Despite this Hollywood ending, Research Triangle Park was not always guaranteed to succeed. Early obstacles included:
- A less than stellar perception of the Southeast, which at the time was known much more for segregation and conservatism than education and innovation, and
- Five years of slow growth which seemed to diminish the credibility of the park.
How is any of this relevant to Rochester? As of 2015, Rochester is home to a nationwide consortium focused on integrated photonics, i.e. the marriage of light and computer chips for applications in telecommunications, health care, etc. At the current time, attempting to ascertain exactly how this consortium might work is an impossible task. A reasonable portion of local media coverage has actually focused on childlike bickering over which empty buildings to use. However, despite the unknowns, there are already a few key points that Rochester can learn from Research Triangle Park:
- Contrary to the beliefs of some grumpy Rochesterians, government, universities, and the private sector can work together to boost a regional economy.
- Rochester's reputational shortcomings can and should be overcome.
- The University of Rochester and the Rochester Institute of Technology are world-class universities that can easily produce the knowledge and expertise necessary for the future of this venture.
- Expecting tangible results in six months, one year, or even three years is ludicrous.
- If the photonics initiative has even a tiny fragment of the success of Research Triangle Park, that might be enough to fully rejuvenate Rochester.
- Since the project includes two key local universities (as opposed to three), the word triangle cannot be used. That said, I think we can all be happy with a line.