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Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Nonstop flight from RDU to San Francisco

Investors and entrepreneurs from Silicon Valley and the west coast now have an easier route to visit the Research Triangle and North Carolina. United Airlines will begin daily nonstop service from Raleigh-Durham International Airport (RDU) to San Francisco on Aug. 15, 2012.

Gov. Bev Perdue announced the nonstop service to San Francisco International Airport (SFO) this afternoon at RDU. CED, and many other regional economic development organizations have long advocated for a nonstop service connecting Silicon Valley to the Research Triangle.

Gov. Perdue, in her statement, mentioned that she visited California last year and repeatedly heard companies, investors and executives say "we like North Carolina, but it is just so hard to get there." In addition to reducing travel time, the nonstop service will allow business passengers to more easily plan trips to the region.

This is vital for economic development initiatives. On one hand, reducing total travel time and eliminating at least a portion of the hassle that comes with an air transfer is a big selling point to potential investors traveling from the west coast. In addition, it now becomes easier for companies in the Research Triangle to attract top-level talent to the region.

"By strengthening the air service connection between the two coasts and Asia, we are creating more opportunities for N.C. businesses to be more competitive and to create more jobs for North Carolinians," said Gov. Perdue in a statement.

We understand the need for a nonstop flight. While the Southeast is the #2 region for angel investment, many companies in North Carolina are unable to consider investment from funds or firms based on the West Coast. In particular, venture capitalists, who tend to work closely with the companies in which they invest, have previously reported to CED that while many companies in the region are worth a look, ease of access prevented investment decisions. Adding a nonstop daily flight now eliminates that barrier.

Is this nonstop flight a magic bullet that will fuel investment in the burgeoning life science and technology industries in the Research Triangle? Of course not. This is, however, an important component to attracting major investment in our region and North Carolina at large.

"We all share in celebration for this new service because as a community we worked together to bring this flight to RDU," said Michael Landguth, RDU airport director. "Businesses, particularly the life sciences and technology sectors, have been very vocal about the importance of this flight to their ongoing success and ability to grow and compete."

The west-bound flight will leave RDU at 7 a.m. and arrive in San Francisco at 9:50 a.m. local time. The east-bound flight departs San Francisco at 1 p.m. and will arrive at RDU at 9 p.m. local time. 

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