Five years ago, Launch Chapel Hill was started in response to the success that Durhams American Underground was having.
Chapel Hill had no shortage of young entrepreneurs starting companies, but there was a problem. Many of them were moving their startups to Durham or Research Triangle Park.
We felt it was important because we saw what we were losing to American Underground, said Dwight Bassett, economic development officer for the town of Chapel Hill. I knew that there were a lot of people over there that shouldve been in Chapel Hill, but they werent because we werent providing the opportunity.
Now, Bassett says, the town is starting to build a cluster of startups in downtown Chapel Hill thanks to Launch and a focus on creating more flexible office space in town.
Since 2013, 75 companies have graduated from the Launch program, and 25 still call Orange County home not including those still in the program. Thats a retention rate of more than 54 percent, considering that only 46 of those 75 companies are still operating, due to the volatile nature of the startup world.
Just knowing the number of companies that come through (Launch) just shows that ...