New Research Triangle Region Manufacturing Jobs are Clean, Technology-driven, Higher-paying

Research Triangle Region, N.C. – Semprius Inc.’s July announcement it will build a $90 million pilot solar cell manufacturing plant in Vance County, creating 256 jobs, is the latest example of advanced manufacturing jobs flowing to the Research Triangle Region.

These new manufacturers are technology-driven and operate in new economy sectors, like Cleantech, immersive technologies and advanced manufacturing. They pay higher wages and are tightly linked to innovation and growth industries.

“Our region offers a rare combination of assets for manufacturers,” says Charles A. Hayes, president and chief executive officer of the Research Triangle Regional Partnership. RTRP leads economic development for the Research Triangle Region of North Carolina, home of The Research Triangle Park (RTP) and the 13 north-central N.C. counties of Chatham, Durham, Franklin, Granville, Harnett, Johnston, Lee, Moore, Orange, Person, Vance, Wake and Warren.

“Not only can these companies create their new products, services and processes because of our technology and knowledge assets, they can manufacture them here because of our skilled workforce and abundant, affordable spaces,” Hayes says. “The ability to locate R&D and manufacturing in close proximity is a huge competitive advantage for these companies.”

Semprius’ new pilot plant in Vance County, for instance, will make products developed at its research-and-development facility in Durham County.

Further, North Carolina is one of the most cost-efficient states in the country for manufacturers, according to a recent study of the American Institute for Economic Research. The study reviewed 2007 Census data to determine where the most cost-efficient manufacturing occurs and found that North Carolina has the second-lowest production cost per dollar spent on manufacturing of any state in the country. It ranks No. 4 in production-cost efficiencies. Oregon was No. 1 in both categories.

Manufacturing jobs decline but wages grow

Regional manufacturing jobs declined by 34 percent over the last decade, from 121,565 in 2000 to 80,467 in 2010, while U.S. manufacturing jobs fell 39 percent.

Still, manufacturing wages in the region climbed 38 percent over the period. At the end of 2010, manufacturing represented 9.3 percent of all Research Triangle Region jobs with 1,655 manufacturing companies (32 percent more than the year before) employing 80,752 workers at average weekly wages of $1,541.03. That is 5.2 percent higher than the average manufacturing wages paid the year before and $572.03 higher than the average of all regional jobs in 2010.

Manufacturing contributes approximately $18 billion, or just over one fifth, of the region’s $86.9 billion Gross Domestic Product, according to 2009 data.

New manufacturing investments top $325 million

During the first half of 2011, manufacturing companies announced they would invest more than $325 million in new and expanded facilities in the region and add as many as 1,100 new jobs.

Among them:

  • Merck & Company’s announcement it would invest another $100 million and add 75 jobs to expand its vaccine plant in Durham County, bringing its total investment to nearly $900 million since Merck first broke ground in the region in 2004.
  • Biogen Idec’s $45 million expansion of its RTP drug research and manufacturing plant, adding 300 jobs.
  • Novartis Vaccines and Diagnostics Inc.’s $36 million development lab and pilot plant at the site of its pandemic and seasonal flu production facility in Wake County, adding 100 jobs.
  • Eaton Corporation’s $23.3 million investment and 120 jobs at its low-emission valvetrain component manufacturing facility in Person County.
  • LORD Corporation’s $20 million expansion of its adhesive, coating and motion management technologies facility in Wake County, creating 117 jobs.
  • CertainTeed Roofing’s $20 million expansion and 10 new jobs at its roofing products plant in Granville County.
  • Magneti Marelli Powertrain Systems USA’s $15 million expansion and 65 new jobs at its Lee County plant, which will produce three new high-tech fuel systems for Chrysler cars.
  • Coty’s $12 million expansions of its beauty products manufacturing plant in Lee County, adding 140 jobs.
  • AKG of America’s $3.3 million investment and 76 new jobs at its heat exchange and cooling solutions plant in Orange County.
  • MMC Textiles LLC’s $250,000 investment to locate a textiles equipment manufacturing plant in Moore County, creating 27 new jobs.
  • TyraTech’s expansion of its Wake County agricultural biotechnology facility in Wake County, adding 105 jobs.
  • Vescom America’s expansion of its structural wall covering plant in Vance County, with 35 new jobs.

Strong pipeline could add $2.2 billion more in investments, 4,500 jobs

Regional economic developers, meanwhile, continue working with new manufacturing prospects that represent a combined potential investment of $2.2 billion and nearly 4,500 more jobs.

Thirty-one of the 64 companies seriously considering the Research Triangle Region for an expansion or relocation project are manufacturers. Many work in the region’s primary cluster targets, such as pharmaceuticals, Cleantech (solar, energy efficiency), medical devices, defense and biofuels.

“While innovation and R&D keep our economy competitive and diversified, manufacturing provides quality employment opportunities for residents across our region,” says Lee Anne Nance, RTRP senior vice president for strategic initiatives. “These trends show that manufacturing is alive and well in the Research Triangle Region with strong potential for growth.”

For more information on the Research Triangle Region and the competitive assets its offers manufacturing companies, visit

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Contact: Lee Anne Nance, (919) 840-7372 ext. 15