RALEIGH — Swiss industrial equipment maker ABB plans to add more than 400 jobs in Orange County after receiving an incentive package worth a total of $7.6 million.
ABB, whose North American headquarters is in Cary, plans to consolidate its distribution and manufacturing hub in Mebane, about 46 miles west of Raleigh, with the incentives.
The Mebane facility used to be owned by a General Electric subsidiary that ABB bought in 2017.
The state will be awarding $5.5 million of the $7.6 million package, with Orange County giving $953,108 and the City of Mebane giving $1.1 million.
Of the $5.5 million coming from the state, $4.3 million is a Jobs Development Investment Grant. Every year over a 12 year period, ABB will be checked to see if it created the agreed upon number of new jobs.
Supporters of JDIG argue that the incentives pay for themselves, because the program pays companies based on a percentage of the new tax revenue their jobs generate; no money is paid until the company meets job and investment requirements, the News & Observer previously reported.
Mebane Mayor Glendel Stephenson said the investment is a chance to rejuvenate the business.
"Unless there are significant changes," said Stephenson, who has been the mayor for 35 years, "rarely does any business operate more than 25 years. We are now seeing this plant is going to have a new life, major changes, major renovation, new people ... and hopefully another new life for this plant."
The minimum average wage for the jobs will be $70,789, which is greater than Orange County's average wage of $46,112.
The incentive package was approved at an economic investment committee meeting in Raleigh on Wednesday morning.
ABB will now be the largest private employer in Orange County, said Steve Brantley, Orange County's director of economic development.
The Mebane facility is specifically focused on electrical distribution systems, which help connect industrial sites to the power grid more efficiently. The new jobs will be focused on product management, assembly and engineering.
As part of a $40 million investment into Mebane, ABB will expand its facility there, currently 400,000 square feet, by 200,000 square feet.
Frank Sullivan, who leads ABB's electrification products division, said that the company continues to invest in this state because of the talented workforce, its university system and the quality of life in the Triangle. He noted that the company had a lot of foresight when it moved its headquarters from Connecticut to Cary about a decade ago.
Sullivan said ABB will have more than 3,000 employees across North Carolina after these jobs are created.
Renee Price, vice-chair of the Orange County Board of Commissioners, said that Durham Technical Community College will offer job training for available ABB positions.
"To be able to train or to provide the education that is necessary that is specific for ABB or any corporation is vital," Price said of Durham Tech. "They can set up the course work that will be directly related to the job they will have and perhaps even do internships and then go right into the job."
Conversations about an expansion of the Mebane facility began in the spring, Brantley said. That was a pretty quick turnaround, he noted, adding that Orange County was competing with an existing ABB facility in Mississippi for the jobs. The state's Commerce Department noted that if Mississippi had been chosen, the Mebane facility would have lost 110 jobs.
"Once again, an international company decided to expand its footprint in our state," Gov. Roy Cooper said after the jobs were announced.
He lauded the state's workforce as the main reason ABB is investing in the state.
"When recruiting companies to come to the state, the most asked question by the companies is does North Carolina have the right people to fill jobs," Cooper said. "Because of decades and decades of investment and education, our great community college system, our universities, North Carolina has done well answering that question."
Staff writer Zachery Eanes contributed to this article.
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