Chatham County Summer 9x9x9: $9 Billion Investment, 9,000 Jobs


PITTSBORO- Wolfspeed Friday’s announcement that the Durham-based company would build a $5 million semiconductor factory in Chatham County and create more than 1,800 jobs created an almost campaign-winning atmosphere with campaign buttons. But those colored pins weren’t for Democrats or Republicans.

No – the $9, 9K, 22 represented the county’s standout year in economic development with Wolfspeed’s announcement coming – you guessed it already – on September 9th.

The “9s”:

  • $9 billion coming in new industrial plants from Wolfspeed and electric vehicle maker VinFast

$5 billion from Wolfspeed (surpassing VinFast as the state’s largest economic development investment to date)

$4 billion from Vinfast (announced March 29)

1802 from Wolfspeed

Some 7,500 from VinFast

The significance of the news is clear to economic development recruiters who continue to bring great projects to North Carolina.

“Wolfspeed’s official announcement serves to confirm the new high-tech trajectory emerging in the Triangle Corridor at Triad, one that goes beyond the already well-established pharmaceutical and medical technology base in the region,” said John Boyd. , Site Development Manager, The Boyd Company. .

And there are still almost four months left in 2022.

To appreciate the magnitude of these decisions, just look at the population – 9,000 jobs coming in the next few years for a county of about 73,000 people. And the Wolfspeed-Vinfast developments are likely to create thousands of additional ‘halo’ jobs – new positions created by companies drawn in to help support or do business with the two giants.”

In fact, that total number of new jobs could double, according to an economic development expert.

“There will be a multiple or halo impact of these jobs, at about 1 additional job in the supplier, parts and service businesses for every job in the new plant,” says Dr. Mike Walden, an economist at NC State who has studied economic development for decades.

An example: shortly after VinFast was announced, FedEx announced that it would also add a site in Chatham County.

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“Historical Moment”

In an exclusive email interview with WRAL TechWire early Sunday, C. Michael Smith, president of the Chatham Economic Development Corporation, called Wolfspeed’s announcement a “historic moment.”

Michael Smith (Chatham County Economic Development photo)

But Smith pointed out that the county might not be done making the news.

“[T]there may be several other parks of similar size in operation in this area,” he said of the site selected by VinFast. He notes that he is “12 minutes from I-540” as the route around Raleigh-Durham is pushed towards completion.

Then there is the availability of land at the Chatham-Siler City site chosen by Wolfspeed.

“A remarkable fact at the CAM [short for Chatham Advanced Manufacturing] location in Siler [City] is that even after the September 9 announcement, there are still 1,400 acres still available for further development,” Smith explained. “We also have the Midstate Development Site, a 300-acre business park adjacent to CAM.”

Even with VinFast taking the 2,000 acres of the Triangle Innovation Point site further southwest of the Wolfspeed development, Smith said no one should overlook what he calls TIP West, or Triangle Innovation Point.

“The Triangle Innovation Point (TIP) East site is 2,000 acres and VinFast will take all of that site,” Smith said, but noted, “We still have 300 acres available at the TIP West site.”

Both sites, Smith adds, have their roots in private sector developers.

Carolina Core Map (NC Carolina Core image)

Fill Caroline Core

Wolfspeed and VinFast have chosen “megasites” for their new installations. Not too far northwest on Highway 421 (a future highway), Toyota has chosen a megasite in Randolph County for a massive new battery plant. (Not to be overlooked in the so-called “Carolina Core” region that stretches from Fayetteville to Winston-Salem is the supersonic aircraft factory to be built on a large site adjacent to Piedmont Triad International Airport.)

“Amazing to have Boom, Toyota, Wolfspeed and VinFast come together over the past year,” said Smith. “This highlights the work of so many people across North Carolina to make us the premier destination for corporate recruiting.

“The region’s talent pool with the large number of 4-year college graduates, our outstanding community college system, and nearby Fort’s 7,000 annual outgoing military. Bragg are all points that help generate interest in Central NC. It has also brought a significant number of new residents to the Triangle and Triad each year, and these announcements may accelerate this trend.

Carolina Core is described as “a stretch of more than 120 miles from central North Carolina, from western Winston-Salem to Fayetteville, encompassing Greensboro and High Point and near Charlotte and the Research Triangle, all the way through the future Interstate 685”.

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In an interview ahead of Wolfspeed’s announcement, Walden said the decision “is another element for an emerging next-generation manufacturing economic corridor from the Triangle to the Triad.”

“Companies in the corridor will be able to call on skilled workers from the Triangle and the Triad. Companies form a critical mass that will attract similar companies to access the specialized workforce that will be developed,” he added.

While the Research Triangle region itself has generated much of the economic development news over the years, the Carolina Core is now showing remarkable strength.

“As the geographic center of North Carolina, these projects have the opportunity to provide positive opportunities for a wide variety of North Carolina residents. For example, Moncure’s VinFast site is within an hour of 22 counties in North Carolina, or more than 1/5 of the entire state,” Smith explained.

North Carolina pays $1 billion price tag to land Wolfspeed factory on New York bid

$1 billion in tax incentives

Wins for Wolfspeed and VinFast didn’t come without a cost. Along with the burden of more traffic and more homes needed to accommodate growing communities, there are long-term tax and other incentives for each site promised by Chatham County.

  • Some $600 million for Wolfspeed
  • An additional $400 million for VinFast

But much like North Carolina’s incentives provided through benefits like the Job Development Investment Grants or JDIG, Chatham’s support has protections, Smith said.

“Our county incentives are all performance-based,” Smith explained. “No existing county program will have funds diverted to these major projects. All county incentives are part of our Transformational Grants Program, which allows businesses to receive annual grants after meeting established new jobs and investment commitments.

‘Four months of work in three weeks’: How North Carolina landed VinFast, the company building a $4 billion auto plant in Chatham County

Recruiters in partnership

Chatham’s 9x9x9 month is also not the result of any particular party or organization, Smith pointed out.

“A big part of that story is regional collaboration,” he said. “The Wolfspeed project would not have been possible without the help of our neighbors in Asheboro and Randolph County. The CAM site is on the Randolph County line.

“As well, our neighbors in Sanford and Lee County are the water and sewer providers for the TIP site. These are extreme examples of – Economic development is a team sport!

“But as you can see, these types of major wins are very complex, expensive and time-consuming processes. We are fortunate that many public and private sector leaders had a vision and were able to stick with it – to enable a historic moment like today in NC.

State political leaders also played their part.

“We appreciate the significant assistance from the NC General Assembly, Governor Cooper’s Office, the NC Department of Commerce and Golden LEAF. [Foundation] for infrastructure and venue development at both venues,” he said.

“Furthermore, the Broth Owners Groups have invested a lot of time and money in both sites and have placed great trust in Chatham EDC over time to keep these two megasites available. This is an important point that cannot be overlooked – both sites were over 10 years old.

Other partners will provide training for new work that Wolfspeed and VinFast will need, Smith noted.

“In addition to our award-winning Central Carolina Community College shared resource serving Chatham, Lee and Harnett, we are also fortunate for the timing of these announcements and the [E. Eugene Moore Manufacturing and Biotech Solutions Center] in Lee County,” he said. “We are working closely on this great new facility which will serve as a regional asset for customized training for new and existing industries in this region.”


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