Wolfspeed, a Durham silicon chip manufacturer, will build a massive new factory in Chatham County, one that promises to bring 1,800 new jobs to the growing rural county.
On Friday, the N.C. Economic Investment Committee awarded the company an $86.1 million job development investment grant, or JDIG, with future payroll tax breaks. To benefit from the full financial package, Wolfspeed must create at least 1,802 jobs over five years from 2026 to 2030.
Wolfspeed also must retain the 3,023 positions it already has in the state.
The company says it expects to invest more than $5 billion in the Chatham plant.
The facility will be built on the Chatham-Siler City Advanced Manufacturing (CAM) Site, an 1,802-acre megasite near the county’s western border.
The average minimum wage will be $77,753, officials said.
Gov. Roy Cooper is scheduled to announce the chip project at the Executive Mansion on Friday at 10 a.m.
Securing the JDIG opens up even more funding for the Wolfspeed project: The latest state budget appropriated $112.5 million for a chip manufacturing project in Chatham, provided the incoming company received a grant from the Economic Investment Committee. The funds include $57 million for site work and $55 million to enhance water infrastructure in the city of Asheboro, which is about 20 miles west of Siler City.
Among other state incentives, the N.C. Department of Transportation will spend about $10 million building roads needed to access the site from U.S. 64, and the state community college system will provide worker training worth $3.6 million.
In addition to state support, the project will receive incentives and tax breaks from Chatham County and Siler City worth $615.5 million.
The announcement represents another major economic boon for growing Chatham County. In March, the Vietnamese automotive startup VinFast announced it would build a 7,500-worker assembly plant in the southeastern portion of the county. It’s scheduled to become operational in 2024.
And the plant will be just down the road from a Toyota car battery plant now under construction on another megasite in Randolph County. Toyota says it expects to invest about $3.8 billion in the plant and eventually employ about 2,100 people there.
Demand for silicon chips
Wolfspeed has been eyeing expansion for months as the demand for electric vehicles, which use silicon chips, has exploded.
The company makes a particular type of chip made from silicon carbide, a semiconducting compound. The company turns the compound into thin blank chips called wafers before sending them to its fabrication factories to make functioning chips.
Wolfspeed has a pair of fabrication, or fab, facilities in Durham and one in upstate New York. The Chatham site will produce the wafers. In addition to supplying its own facilities with wafers, Wolfspeed sells wafers to other chip manufacturers.
In August, the federal government passed the CHIPS Act, which directs $52 billion to bolster domestic chip manufacturing. Wolfspeed CEO Gregg Lowe attended the White House signing ceremony celebrating the legislation.
Who did NC beat out?
Under North Carolina law, state tax incentives are restricted to businesses that are considering at least one other state for their projects. States including Ohio and New York have also made aggressive efforts to lure a chip manufacturer.
State officials say Wolfspeed considered putting the factory in Marcy, New York, near Utica, where it has a 434-acre site with room for expansion.
Wolfspeed was founded in 1987 by a group mostly made up of N.C State University graduate students. The company went public in the early 1990s and operated under the name Cree until last October. It employs 3,500 people worldwide, with around 2,500 workers in the Triangle.
This story will be updated.
This story was produced with financial support from a coalition of partners led by Innovate Raleigh as part of an independent journalism fellowship program. The N&O maintains full editorial control of the work.
Enjoy Triangle tech news? Subscribe to the N&O’s Open Source weekly tech newsletter here.
This story was originally published September 9, 2022 8:29 AM.
Read the full article here