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Sunday, May 26, 2024

North Carolina’s most job-rich economic development projects of 2022-2023

In the wake of record-setting job creation announcements in 2020 and 2021, North Carolina continues to show why global media outlets heap praise on the state as a top business destination. Wolfspeed’s $5 billion investment in Chatham County tops the list and symbolizes the country’s move to electric vehicles and an economy much less dependent on fossil fuels.

High-profile expansions were announced by U.S.-based manufacturers such as GE and Energizer, while the state also was chosen for direct investment by companies in Australia, Finland, Germany, Italy and the United Kingdom.

North Carolina continues to excel in life sciences, as well as transportation equipment, aviation services, building products, consumer foods and financial services. 

This year’s Top 25 list ranks projects from June 2022 through May 2023 based on job creation. Details are gleaned from N.C. Department of Commerce and Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina reports, as well as news coverage. Amid unpredictable shifts in global economic conditions, not every company will meet its mark. Some, however, will exceed expectations when it comes to job growth and capital expenditures once operations get going. 


1. WOLFSPEED

Durham
NEW JOBS: 1,802
COUNTY: Chatham
PROJECTED INVESTMENT: $5 billion
N.C. CASH INCENTIVES: $76.1 million over 20 years

For the second year in a row, Chatham County took home the No. 1 spot as Durham-based Wolfspeed announced plans to build the world’s largest silicon carbide production site at the Chatham-Siler City Advanced Manufacturing megasite. The company makes semiconductor chips and devices that power electric vehicle inverters and charging systems. It is hoping to benefit from the so-called CHIPS and Science Act passed by Congress last August to promote U.S. manufacturing. The initial $1.3 billion phase of Wolfspeed’s 445-acre campus is expected to open next year, with additional capacity to be added through the end of the decade. The Silicon Carbide wafers produced there will supply the company’s $1 billion Mohawk Valley chip factory, which opened last year near Utica, New York. 

2. Siemens Mobility

Munich
NEW JOBS: 500
COUNTY: Davidson
PROJECTED INVESTMENT: $220 million
N.C. CASH INCENTIVES: $5.64 million over 12 years

In unveiling plans for a 200-acre passenger railcar plant and service center in Davidson County, company executive Marc Buncher called Lexington “our new East Coast hometown.” The division of  Germany’s Siemens AG is a global leader in many industries, including railcars. Buncher cited proximity to customers as a factor in picking the site. Siemens Mobility paid $16.2 million for the property at Lexington Industrial Park, a public-private partnership between the city of Lexington and Front Street Capital, a commercial real estate firm based in Winston-Salem.

3. GE Hitachi
Nuclear Energy

Wilmington
NEW JOBS: 485
COUNTY: New Hanover
PROJECTED INVESTMENT: $85 million
N.C. CASH INCENTIVES: None

GE has been a leader in nuclear power technologies since 1955. It began making fuel for nuclear plants in Wilmington in 1969 and, in 2003, moved its nuclear energy division headquarters there from San Jose, California. GE Nuclear’s joint venture with Japan’s Hitachi Group began in 2007. Its latest Wilmington expansion is being driven by a partnership with TerraPower, a designer of nuclear reactors founded by Bill Gates in 2006. The project has support from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Reactor Demonstration Program. The project expects to boost payroll by $63.5 million annually and help build the supply chain for a new generation of nuclear power plants, GE-Hitachi says.

4. SO-PAK-CO

Mullins, South Carolina
NEW JOBS: 440
COUNTY: Scotland
PROJECTED INVESTMENT: $85 million
N.C. CASH INCENTIVES: $4.6 million over 12 years

Founded in 1943, So-Pak-Co is a top supplier of military field rations, also known as meals ready to eat or MRE, to the U.S. military. The company also makes foods for major national brands such as Bush’s Baked Beans. The company opted for Laurinburg over nearby sites in Bentonville and Mullins, South Carolina, for its latest expansion. In addition to its $4.6 million Job Development Investment Grant, the project will receive $2.2 million in road enhancements from the N.C. Department of Transportation and $585,000 in training support from the N.C. Community College System. The 440-job expansion is said to be the largest-ever economic development win for Scotland County, which had the state’s highest unemployment rate, 6.8%, as of April.

5. Bank of London

London
NEW JOBS: 350
COUNTY: Mecklenburg
PROJECTED INVESTMENT: $33 million
N.C. CASH INCENTIVES: None

Charlotte’s reputation as a financial technology hub grew bigger with the mid-2022 announcement by The Bank of London that it would base its U.S. global platform and services headquarters in the Queen City. The company, founded in 2021, said it will employ 350 people in 40,000 square feet of space at One Independence Center downtown. Software developers, engineers, technology professionals and risk management specialists are among the positions created by the business, which provides clearing and other transaction services for financial services companies. Since inception, Bank of London has raised $160 million and has a valuation of $1.1 billion, the company said earlier this year.  

6. (TIE) Alpitronic Americas

Bolzano, Italy
NEW JOBS: 300
COUNTY: Mecklenburg
PROJECTED INVESTMENT: $18.3 million
N.C. CASH INCENTIVES: $2.3 million over 12 years

Founded in 2009 and based in northern Italy’s South Tyrol region, Alpitronic develops and produces hyperchargers, the high-powered DC charging stations that recharge electric vehicles. Downtown Charlotte will be home to the company’s U.S. headquarters. Alpitronic’s 70,000-square-foot space will include administrative offices and areas for testing and repair of its charging stations. Positions will average $90,000 in annual pay.

6. (TIE) Kempower

Lahti, Finland
NEW JOBS: 300
COUNTY: Durham
PROJECTED INVESTMENT: $41 million
N.C. CASH INCENTIVES: $3 million over 12 years

Kempower’s lease of 154,000 square feet of space at Durham’s Tri-Center Park is expected to double the Finnish company’s worldwide operations. Kempower CEO Tomi Ristimäki liked the Bull City’s bustling tech scene and community vibe. “I think that the way in which different cultures and diversity are reflected locally fits perfectly with Kempower’s values. One example of the diversity is that approximately 30% of start-ups in the region are run by women,” Ristimäki says. Formed in 2017, Kempower trades on the Helsinki stock exchange and employs 460 people, according to its website. The company also considered sites in Tennessee and Virginia.

8. NVR

Reston, Virginia
NEW JOBS: 261
COUNTIES: Cleveland and Cumberland
PROJECTED INVESTMENT: $33.9 million
N.C. CASH INCENTIVES: $1.64 million over 12 years

NVR constructs and sells homes in 15 states under the Ryan Homes, NVHomes and Heartland Homes brands, notching $10.5 billion in revenue in 2022. The company will expand capacity at its existing Kings Mountain facility and build a 145,000-square-foot plant in Fayetteville. NVR, which has operated in Cleveland County since 2002, will add 58 positions to its current 230-person workforce in Kings Mountain. The company considered locations in Georgia and Florida for its expansion. 

9. ABEC

Bethlehem, Pennsylvania
NEW JOBS: 251
COUNTY: Wilson
PROJECTED INVESTMENT: $11 million
N.C. CASH INCENTIVES: $2 million over 12 years

Pharma firms around the world are customers of ABEC, which provides bioprocess solutions, equipment and services. The company’s latest expansion will consume a 50,000-square-foot shell building at Wilson Corporate Park, where it will make single-use stainless steel and hybrid vessels for delivery of therapeutics. ABEC also has facilities in Missouri, Pennsylvania, China and Ireland. The company paid Johnson-Miller Development $2.45 million for the property near the intersection of Interstates 95 and 587.

10. Marshall USA

Cambridge, United Kingdom
NEW JOBS: 240
COUNTY: Guilford
PROJECTED INVESTMENT: $50 million
N.C. CASH INCENTIVES: $2.4 million over 12 years

Britain’s largest private aerospace and defense business plans a major maintenance, repair and overhaul operation at Greensboro’s Piedmont Triad International Airport. Marshall Aerospace’s history in serving military organizations extends to World War II. Its PTI location will support current and anticipated Pentagon contracts, with the initial phase oriented toward the U.S. Marine Corps’ C-130 Hercules tactical transport aircraft. Marshall considered 30 sites before identifying finalists in Alabama, Kansas, Missouri and North Carolina. The firm’s site-selection team said it was drawn by the Triad’s workforce availability, training, supply-chain links, “political and economic landscape,” site quality and financial incentives. 

11. Supreme
Cabinetry Brands

Howard Lake, Minnesota
NEW JOBS: 237
COUNTY: Iredell
PROJECTED INVESTMENT: $17.4 million
N.C. CASH INCENTIVES: None

Strong demand for high-quality residential cabinetry in the southeastern U.S. has meant consistent growth for Dura Supreme Cabinetry. Part of a closely held Minnesota company formed in 1954, Supreme Cabinetry selected a 300,000-square-foot building in Statesville that was previously an Ashley Furniture distribution center. The company moved into the site in April and hopes to ship hand-crafted cabinetry to its dealers later this year.

12. Dymax

Torrington, Connecticut
NEW JOBS: 227
COUNTY: Union
PROJECTED INVESTMENT: $46.7 million
N.C. CASH INCENTIVES: $1.25 million over 12 years

Union County’s strategy for attracting aerospace and aviation
jobs is showing momentum. Already home to ATI, Collins Aerospace and others, the city of Monroe last summer welcomed Dymax, a maker of adhesives and coatings for use by aerospace, automotive, medical device and other manufacturers. The company, founded in 1980, is working with Charlotte-based contractor Shelco on constructing a 100,000-square-foot space near Charlotte-Monroe Executive Airport. The site will house manufacturing, warehousing and office operations. 

13. EPOC Enviro

Belrose, New South Wales, Australia
NEW JOBS: 226
COUNTY: Iredell
PROJECTED INVESTMENT: $4.1 million
N.C. CASH INCENTIVES: $1.3 million over 12 years

With its name derived from the acronym for “Emerging Pollutants of Concern,” EPOC Enviro is a subsidiary of Australia’s OPEC Systems. The 31-year-old company has developed environmental remediation solutions for removing per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) from soil, water and man-made surfaces. EPOC’s products and services are now used mostly in Europe. A 264,000-square-foot industrial building,  developed by the Colliers real estate firm at Statesville Commerce Center, will be the site of the company’s first U.S. manufacturing plant. 

14. Atom Power

Huntersville
NEW JOBS: 205
COUNTY: Mecklenburg  
PROJECTED INVESTMENT: $4.2 million
N.C. CASH INCENTIVES: $1.2 million over 12 years

Atom Power makes electric-vehicle charging equipment based on its innovative vision for “networked energy.” The company says its solid-state digital circuit breaker provides greater reliability and control to EV charging at commercial fleet operations and multifamily residential buildings. Atom Power plans to add to its current 82-person workforce at The Park – Huntersville with positions that will include engineers, technicians and manufacturing operators. Last summer, SK, Korea’s second-largest conglomerate, invested $100 million in Atom Power. CEO Ryan Kennedy co-founded the company in 2014.

15. Live Oak Bank

Wilmington
NEW JOBS: 204
COUNTY: New Hanover
PROJECTED INVESTMENT: $25 million
N.C. CASH INCENTIVES: $1.54 million over 12 years

Founded by veteran financial executive Chip Mahan in 2008, Live Oak Bank has helped revitalize the Port City with a cloud-based, national platform that operates in 50 states while not including branch offices. It is among the nation’s leading facilitators of loans tied to the Small Business Administration and U.S. Department of Agriculture lenders. In boosting its workforce above the 1,000 mark, Live Oak is hiring analysts, underwriters, lending staff, info-tech professionals and others at compensation averaging $101,000.That is about twice New Hanover County’s average wage. The firm is working with the LS3P architectural firm and Monteith Construction to add a fourth building at its campus. 

16. (TIE) Javara

Winston-Salem
NEW JOBS: 200
COUNTY: Forsyth 
PROJECTED INVESTMENT: n/a
N.C. CASH INCENTIVES: None

Founded in 2018, Javara connects patients with clinical trials and expanded access to treatments that might not otherwise have been available. The female-owned company, whose name is Hindi for “tide,” announced in 2022 plans to double its workforce to 400 over two years. Based in Winston-Salem’s Innovation Quarter, Javara raised more than $47 million last year from General Atlantic, a big New York-based private-equity firm. 

16. (TIE) Albemarle

Charlotte
NEW JOBS: 200
COUNTY: Mecklenburg
PROJECTED INVESTMENT: $180 million
N.C. CASH INCENTIVES: $1.24 million over 12 years

Seven years after moving its headquarters to Charlotte from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, the mining and chemical processing company announced plans to add 200 jobs in the University City area as it creates a major advanced materials R&D center. The center’s mission is to bring innovative products to the red-hot lithium battery market. In addition to its headquarters, Albemarle operates a lithium processing facility in Kings Mountain. It is planning another processing facility, entailing a $1.3 billion investment, in Chester County, South Carolina, about an hour southeast of Charlotte. 

16. (TIE) Emtelle

Hawick, Scotland, United Kingdom
NEW JOBS: 200
COUNTY: Henderson
PROJECTED INVESTMENT: $16 million
N.C. CASH INCENTIVES: None

Scotland’s Emtelle has manufactured telecommunications equipment since 1980. Surging demand from North American customers is driving the company’s $16 million investment in the Henderson County community of Fletcher. It will operate in about one-third of a 300,000-square-foot building owned by Mainetti Retail Solutions, an Emtelle sister company that entered the county in 2017. It’s Emtelle’s first U.S. location to supply products for
fiber-to-the-home solutions. 

16. (TIE) Catalent

Somerset, New Jersey
NEW JOBS: 200
COUNTY: Durham
PROJECTED INVESTMENT: $40 million
N.C. CASH INCENTIVES: $805,500 over 12 years

North Carolina’s life science infrastructure and abundant talent continue to draw companies engaged in cellular and gene therapeutics. After considering locations in Virginia, Kansas and Missouri, Catalent selected a site on the Durham County side of Research Triangle Park. The project adds capacity to provide bioanalytics and other services to Catalent’s East Coast customers. Earlier in 2022, Catalent acquired Metrics Contract Services, a contract drug development and manufacturing business in Greenville, for $475 million.

20. Ziehl-Abegg

Künzelsau, Germany
NEW JOBS: 189
COUNTY: Forsyth
PROJECTED INVESTMENT: $100 million
N.C. CASH INCENTIVES: $400,000 over three years

Ziehl-Abegg began making motors in Germany in 1910. It now employs 5,000 worldwide while making fan systems and motors for industrial buyers in healthcare, data centers, education and agribusiness. New operations at Union Cross Industrial Center in Winston-Salem are part of Ziehl-Abegg’s strategic expansion into North American markets. Chief Operating Officer Joachim Ley called the initial ramp-up to 189 employees “the first step” in the company’s plan. “We are anticipating growing to over 500 employees very rapidly,” he says. The state’s grant comes from the One North Carolina program. 

21. Novo Nordisk

Bagsværd, Denmark
NEW JOBS: 185
COUNTY: Johnston
PROJECTED INVESTMENT: $650 million
N.C. CASH INCENTIVES: None

The Danish bio manufacturer’s leadership in insulin and related therapeutics continues to flourish with the success of Ozempic, its diabetes treatment, and surging sales of its obesity drug Wegovy. Last September, Novo Nordisk sketched out a 12-year vision for growing its presence in Clayton, where it has invested vigorously since arriving in the mid-1990s. In March, Novo Nordisk bought 104 acres adjacent to its two huge Johnston County plants for $6.8 million. The company has not disclosed plans for the newly acquired property.

22. FORZA XI

Fort Pierce, Florida
NEW JOBS: 170
COUNTY: McDowell
PROJECTED INVESTMENT: $10.5 million
N.C. CASH INCENTIVES: $1.4 million over 12 years

An electric-vehicle subsidiary of Twin Vee PowerCats, Forza X1 is manufacturing battery-powered recreational boats. In March, it moved into a temporary location in Old Fort while a large site is being cleared and graded next to the Universal Advanced Manufacturing Center in Marion, the company’s permanent home. The building will be off Interstate 40, just half a mile from McDowell Technical Community College. Twin Vee PowerCats reported $23.2 million in net sales for 2022, more than double the previous year.

23. SEG Systems

Charlotte
NEW JOBS: 150
COUNTY: Mecklenburg
PROJECTED INVESTMENT: $130 million
N.C. CASH INCENTIVES: None

SEG Systems designs and engineers integrated display solutions used in promoting brands and products in retail spaces, offices, trade show floors and special events. The company, founded in 2014, signed a 10-year lease in early 2023 for about 225,000 square feet of the Interchange Logistics Center in Huntersville. Trinity Capital Advisors is developing the industrial space, which is expected to be ready for use later this year. 

24. Energizer Holdings

St. Louis
NEW JOBS: 144
COUNTY: Randolph
PROJECTED INVESTMENT: $43 million
N.C. CASH INCENTIVES: $450,000 over three years

Energizer Holdings, whose Energizer, Rayovac and Eveready battery brands are sold around the world, was founded in 1896. The company established manufacturing operations in Asheboro 75 years ago. Its latest expansion adds production and packaging capacity across its two sites there, which employ a combined 411 workers. Abe Prandini, the local plant manager, called the company’s $43 million investment in Randolph County “a testament to the area’s workforce.” State support for the project comes via a performance-based grant from the One North Carolina program.

25. Design mode cabinetry

Raleigh
NEW JOBS: 139
COUNTY: Duplin
PROJECTED INVESTMENT: $13 million
N.C. CASH INCENTIVES: $425,000 over three years

Design Mode Cabinetry, a unit of Raleigh-based 1st Choice Cabinetry, searched for an existing building convenient to its Carolinas customer base. The residential cabinet maker came upon an available 245,000-square-foot building in Warsaw that had been used for storing agribusiness equipment. The company’s choice over a competing site near Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, brings 139 manufacturing jobs to farm-rich Duplin County. A $375,000 grant from the N.C. Department of Commerce is helping fund the building’s renovation and reuse. Design Mode is also eligible for $425,000 in payments through the One North Carolina program.

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