Part of staving off "brain drain"—the emigration of talented individuals from three top-tier universities (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Duke and North Carolina State) and from the famous Research Triangle Park—is having a booming downtown.
"We are committed to making this a place where people want to work and live. The large investments for larger projects and companies have created a more viable climate for small businesses and entrepreneurs," Dick said.
Durham also hosted several classes of the Bull City Startup Stampede in 2011 and 2012, a concept that led to more interest in American Underground. This was spurred by the Durham Chamber of Commerce and Downtown Durham, working in partnership with developers and property owners to offer two months of free rent to entrepreneurs both in and out of state, and free parking, as part of a Durham "tryout" to see if they could make their businesses work there.
Over the past three years, "The buzz has self-sustained and grown," Dick said.
The tax environment has also become more favorable in North Carolina for both businesses and individuals, according to the Tax Foundation. On the Foundation's State Business Tax Climate Index, North Carolina made the biggest rankings jump in the history of the index, from number 44 to number 16 in 2015, due in large part to an individual tax reform that created a single-bracket system with a rate of 5.8 percent and a standard deduction of $7.500. Corporate tax rates fell from 6.9 percent to 6 percent as well.
Dick said that Durham incentivizes a percentage of capital investments that businesses in the city make, which is often used to offset future tax burdens. The application-based process is dependent on the sizes of both the business and investments made.