Orange County was founded in 1752, and was named after William of Orange (also King William III of England). Hillsborough was the center of North Carolina politics in the colonial era and hosted the state’s Constitutional Convention in 1778, where North Carolina delegates demanded that a Bill of Rights be added before they would ratify the U.S. Constitution.
It’s North Carolina’s ideal landscape. For business, for life, and everything in between. Orange County gives you rolling hills and lush green countryside – a rural, down-home feel that blends seamlessly with a cosmopolitan worldview. Here, you’ll find everything your business needs to thrive: a highly educated workforce, superior schools, a world-renowned university system, pioneering technology and research, unprecedented healthcare, and diversity across the board. Toss in our mild climate, and we’re not just the perfect mix – we’re your perfect business environment. In more ways than one.
The county is strategically positioned along the Eastern seaboard; with major metro areas like DC and New York just a quick flight or few hours’ drive away. Interstates I-40 and I-85 crisscross the region, facilitating quick and efficient travel in all directions. Nearby RDU International Airport, along with proximity to seaports, literally gives you the world of business just outside your door.
Orange County is governed by a seven-member board of commissioners. The commissioners are elected to four-year terms by district and at-large in partisan elections, which are held in November of even-numbered years.
Founded over 250 years ago and once the colonial capital of North Carolina, Hillsborough now serves as the county seat of Orange County. Located about 15 minutes northwest of Chapel Hill, the city boasts over one hundred late 18th and 19th century structures and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. During the Revolutionary War, Hillsborough was the political and cultural focal point of the area and it remains so today. Surrounded by rolling hills, the town’s 7,809 residents enjoy charming shops and restaurants and many activities celebrating the arts and history being held almost daily.
Mebane’s namesake is Brigadier General Alexander Mebane, a Revolutionary War officer and later, a United States Congressman. In the late 1700’s, Mebane joined the first board of trustees of the University of North Carolina. He also served on the committee that chose New Hope Chapel Hill as the site for the new school and, in 1793, helped lay cornerstone of the first building erected on campus. Today, the city of Mebane is at the center of one of the fastest growing areas in North Carolina, offering all of the conveniences of city life with all of the escape opportunities that city dwellers often seek; the mountains are just three hours to the west and the coast, just three hours to the east.
Situated at the intersection of two major transportation corridors – Interstate 85 and Interstate 40– Orange County’s location affords a variety of business land opportunities within three Economic Development Districts targeted for non-residential growth by the county. These Districts were created to offer streamlined development procedures in the prime location along the transportation corridor. Over 12 million residents are located within 150 miles of Orange County.
|Distance to Major Cities|
|Atlanta, GA||328 Miles|
|Baltimore, MD||384 Miles|
|Boston, MA||781 Miles|
|Charleston, SC||295 Miles|
|Chicago, IL||679 Miles|
|Cleveland, OH||436 Miles|
|Detroit, MI||590 Miles|
|Jacksonville, FL||470 Miles|
|Memphis, TN||630 Miles|
|New York, NY||565 Miles|
|Norfolk, VA||305 Miles|
|Philadelphia, PA||484 Miles|
|Washington, DC||351 Miles|
Chapel Hill Transit offers free bus service throughout Carrboro, Chapel Hill and the University, including its hospitals. The Triangle Transit Authority provides daytime intercity service between Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill and Hillsborough. It also serves RDU Airport and the Research Triangle Park. Intrastate and national service is available from Carolina Trailways and Greyhound Bus Lines from nearby Raleigh and Durham.
RDU International, Morrisville, NC – ½ hour
Located about 18 miles east of Chapel Hill, the Raleigh-Durham International Airport (RDU) offers 57 nonstop destinations on one of more than 400 daily flights.
PTI International, Greensboro, NC – 1 hour
Located in the center of North Carolina just west of Greensboro, serving Greensboro, High Point and Winston-Salem as well as the entire Piedmont Triad region in North Carolina. From five major airlines, PTI offers a combined total of 58 non-stop flights daily to 14 destinations.
Shipping and Ports
Morehead City, NC – 3¼ hours
One of the deepest ports on the U.S. East Coast, the Port of Morehead City is located just four miles from the Atlantic Ocean. The port handles both break-bulk and bulk cargo and is the second largest importer in the country for natural rubber.
Wilmington, NC – 2¾ hours
The Port of Wilmington is strategically located on the U.S. East Coast. Owned and operated by the North Carolina State Ports Authority, the Port of Wilmington offers terminal facilities serving container, bulk and break-bulk operations.
Amtrak currently offers direct service from nearby Durham and Raleigh. A Hillsborough station, currently undergoing design and construction, will be serviced by two Amtrak passenger routes that together will provide eight daily departures: the Carolinian, which travels between Charlotte and New York twice daily (once in each direction), and the Piedmont, which travels between Charlotte and Raleigh six times daily (three times in each direction).
When it comes to lifestyle, Orange County really and truly offers the perfect mix. Of its 400 square miles, only 10% are developed, making the county a vast playground for lovers of the great outdoors. At the same time, the county encompasses three major East Coast cities, and borders North Carolina’s Research Triangle. Which means that, when residents tire of hiking, kayaking and cycling, they can easily take advantage of the educational, cultural and professional opportunities offered by these close-in, metropolitan centers. Additionally, for all of its rustic, rural appeal, Orange County’s location, along with a network of interstate highways, makes travel in any direction both quick and easy.
Culturally, the county is shaped largely by its world-renowned university system, as well as the forward-thinking companies that have made their homes here. These companies are attracted by the county’s pro-entrepreneur leadership, along with its abundant supply of highly educated, highly skilled workers. The climate here is conducive not only to business, but to a thriving arts community, too, as evidenced in the county’s numerous public art displays, commercial galleries, arts & crafts studios, performing arts events, concerts and movie showings.
Call the Orange County area home and you’ll discover that perfect mix of rural rustic charm and metropolitan amenities. Orange County’s numerous residential living opportunities offers its residents just about every kind of lifestyle imaginable. From estate homes, luxury planned and golfing communities to historic districts and urban low-maintenance living, there is certainly a lifestyle in Orange County that can suit your needs.
Orange County residents have access to top quality medical services. According to the UNC Sheps Center for Health Services Research, there are more than 1,600 physicians in Orange County (119 physicians per 10,000/population).
The county is served by UNC Hospitals, a public, academic medical center operated by and for the people of North Carolina. The Hospitals’ mission is to provide high quality patient care, to educate health care professionals, to advance research and to provide community service.
UNC Hospitals opened in September 1952 under the name North Carolina Memorial Hospital. In May 1989, the N.C. General Assembly created the University of North Carolina Hospitals entity as a unifying organization to govern constituent hospitals and to project a modern and accurate identity for the hospitals of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
UNC Hospitals includes:
- N.C. Memorial Hospital
- N.C. Children’s Hospital
- N.C. Women’s Hospital
- N.C. Cancer Hospital
- N.C. Neurosciences Hospital
- UNC Hospital Hillsborough Campus
Events and Activities
Orange County also offers the perfect mix of events and experiences, all year long. Indie films your thing? Try Chapel Hill’s Blue Sky Film Festival. Music and the Arts? There’s the Carolina Jazz Festival, the Carrboro Music Festival, the West End Poetry Festival and the Artists Open Studio Tour. If you’re looking for something a bit more, well, rustic, there’s Hillsborough Hog Day (real hogs, not Harleys), the Efland Ruritan Rodeo and just a stone’s throw away, the granddaddy of all state fairs, the North Carolina State Fair.
Chapel Hill/Orange County Visitors Bureau
The Chapel Hill/Orange County Visitors Bureau is the official Destination Marketing Organization for Chapel Hill and Orange County, and is accredited by the Destination Marketing Accreditation Program (DMAP) of the Destination Marketing Association International.
The Visitors Bureau’s (a division of Orange County Economic Development) mission is to develop and coordinate visitor services in Orange County and to implement marketing programs that will enhance the economic activity and quality of life in the community.
The Visitors Bureau Visitors Center is open Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. (closed on major holidays).
Visit Chapel Hill/Orange County Visitors Bureau to plan your next visit or experience in Orange County.
DEAPR-Recreation Division exists to provide Orange County residents of all ages, backgrounds, abilities and interests with a wide variety of affordable recreation programming, open access to recreation facilities and opportunities for all people to gather, celebrate and engage in activities that promote healthy lifestyles, teach important life skills and build a stronger community.
Orange County Recreation offers over 100 programs per year intended to engage and enrich both the individual and the community. The program guides above provide information regarding current and up-coming programs.
Getting outside and enjoying the many beautiful trails in Orange County has been made easier. Orange County, in collaboration with the Towns of Carrboro, Chapel Hill, and Hillsborough, North Carolina State Parks, North Carolina Botanical Garden, the University of North Carolina, Classic American Homes, Eno River Association, and Triangle Land Conservancy, has created an interactive trails and greenway map.
Arts & Entertainment
Thanks to the Orange County Arts Commission, an agency of Orange County Economic Development, the residents of Orange County enjoy a robust and thriving arts community. Stroll any downtown street in one of the county’s incorporated cities and you’ll find a quaint gallery to browse, a museum to explore… even a festival that perhaps features local films or wines. Orange County will treat you to an arts and culture scene that boasts a diverse array of public art displays, commercial galleries, arts/crafts studios, as well as numerous performing arts events and festivals. The area’s universities too, of which there are many, offer a burgeoning schedule of theatrical events, performances and art exhibits.
The Orange County Arts Commission and the Chapel Hill/Orange County Visitors Bureau have joined together to create a new events marketing network that will increase visibility for tourism and for Orange County’s artists.
Museums & Historical Sites
- Morehead Planetarium & Science Center
- Ackland Art Museum
- Kidzu Children’s Museum
- North Carolina Botanical Garden
Employers will find a diverse, educated and enthusiastic workforce in Orange County. More than half of Orange County’s population is in the prime working age range of 18 to 54 and represent several ethnicities.
Orange County’s highly skilled workforce is a product of targeted education programs at The University of North Carolina and Durham Technical Community College.
Primary, secondary, university, vocational and continuing education institutions in Orange County and surrounding areas all contribute to the goal of providing a qualified workforce. At 53.7%, Orange County has the highest concentration of college grads in North Carolina and 11th highest nationally.
Orange County is a great place to live and work — and it’s also a great place to learn.
Our public education program provides parents and students access to 7 high schools, 9 middle schools, and 19 elementary. Our public schools reflect a diverse mix of cultures, ranging from a city environment (Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools) to a suburban and rural district (Orange County Schools).
Chapel Hill-Carrboro City School system serves more than 12,000 students and consistently ranks at or near the top of school districts in North Carolina in many academic measures (including test performance, graduation rates and SAT/ACT scores).
The Orange County School system serves more than 7,400 students and is committed to providing challenging and engaging educational experiences that will develop responsible, knowledgeable and resourceful citizens prepared to contribute in our global society.
Orange County offers access to a truly outstanding community college as well as proximity to several of the country’s finest research universities.
Durham Technical Community College is a public two-year accredited institution of higher education and technical training school with its main campus located in Durham, North Carolina. The college serves Orange County at its Orange County Campus completed in 2008. The campus in Orange County is willing to work collaboratively to develop training programs to meet the needs of specific industries, as well as specific company training or re-training needs.
The Orange County Campus is a 20-acre campus centrally located in the Waterstone Development outside of Hillsborough. The first phase of the campus includes a 40,000-square-foot brick structure which houses 22 instructional spaces, including classrooms, computer and science labs, a library, flexible use space, instructional and student support services areas and faculty and student lounges.
Durham Tech serves over 26,000 students with credit, non-credit, adult and continuing education offerings and offers career programs leading to over 100 degrees, certificates and diplomas and university transfer programs.
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is the nation’s oldest state university, with a rich history of more than two centuries. The campus covers approximately 730 acres and provides education to about 29,000 students. Situated in the beautiful town of Chapel Hill, N.C., UNC has earned a reputation as one of the best universities in the world.
We’re also within commuting distance of several superb higher education schools, including: