Triangle Business Journal -- A major pharmaceutical company and a silicone products manufacturer that had considered locating separate multimillion-dollar projects in the Triangle region have instead chosen sites in competing states.
British drug maker Shire PLC is moving forward with plans to build a $394 million expansion in Lexington, Mass., and is expected to create 680 jobs there over the next eight years.
Momentive Performance Materials Inc. is building a new $81 million technology center and global headquarters in Renssalaer County, N.Y., that will result in the relocation of 50 top-level employees and the creation of 150 additional jobs.
Both companies worked with officials with the North Carolina Department of Commerce and local economic development agencies in 2007 and early 2008 after short-listing potential sites along the East Coast, including properties in the Triangle.
Commerce Department spokeswoman Deborah Barnes says neither project advanced far enough to receive formal economic incentives offers from the state, but each was provided detailed information about the state’s incentives programs and policies.
“All they got was a good description of what we have,” Barnes says. “I’m not aware of us ever giving them a dollar figure.”
State officials say a company generally is offered funds from the Jobs Development Investment Grant program or the One North Carolina Fund when an incentive is needed as a “tie-breaker” with a competitor state in a deal, she says.
A top Shire unit executive was quoted in a February Boston Globe story as stating that if Massachusetts had not offered its $48 million incentive package, Shire probably would have built its plant in North Carolina.
The story stated that North Carolina had offered an incentive package of $42 million. Barnes says that figure was probably based on an estimate that the company calculated from North Carolina’s corporate tax credit policies and incentive offers to other similar-sized projects that had chosen North Carolina.
“We provided information but no dollar amount,” she says.
Ken Atkins, executive director of Wake County Economic Development, says his team worked with representatives of Shire, then known by its code name, “Project Atlas,” but he didn’t know the identity of the company at the time. “We didn’t ever get far enough along for incentive letters or anything,” Atkins says.
Shire’s Human Genetic Therapies unit is based in Cambridge, Mass., and the expansion project will provide manufacturing capabilities.
Momentive Performance Materials was also offered a sizable incentive package for its expansion project in New York. New York legislators in June approved a bill that would allow the company to receive between $65 million and $95 million in tax credits and incentives over nine years if it invests $150 million in projects over a five-year period. Momentive’s largest manufacturing facility is in Waterford, N.Y., where it employs about 1,000 workers.
Atkins says officials from Momentive toured the Triangle in early 2008 and were specifically looking at sites in Morrisville.
Wake County Economic Development secured a commitment from Wake County and Morrisville government leaders to offer the company up to $2.7 million in local incentives based on a $60 million investment from the company, “but (Momentive) never came back to us,” Atkins says. “We never got far enough along for formal action on the state or the county side.”
Since January, five major economic development wins for the Triangle have been announced with a combined investment commitment of $640 million and 1,250 new jobs. Commitments include HCL America Inc. opening a facility in Wake County, Uniboard Canada Inc. reconditioning a plant in Chatham County, Merck & Co.’s third expansion of its vaccine plant in Durham, BD’s expansion in Durham County, and Siemens Medical Solutions USA Inc.’s expansion in Cary.