The Business Journal by Catherine Carlock, Special Reports/Publications Writer
Solstas Lab Partners is expanding its High Point operations and adding as many as 500 jobs, the city’s biggest job creation project in more than 13 years.
Gov. Bev Perdue, along with company and city officials, made the announcement Wednesday afternoon in High Point.
Solstas, a medical and diagnostic laboratory, plans to invest $11.6 million over five years in the expansion. The city of High Point and Guilford County each offered Solstas $500,000 in incentives to expand, while the state offered a $450,000 grant from the One North Carolina Fund.
The state grant is contingent on the company creating at least 300 jobs and investing $7.5 million over the first three years of the project.
Solstas has more than 1,750 employees working at numerous labs across the state. More than 720 full-time employees work at its High Point facility and the new positions are expected to be in IT, human resources and other office and lab functions. Salaries will vary by job function, but the average annual wage of those 500 new jobs will be $45,560.
The company has added 300 positions since December 2009, and Solstas Chief Administrative Officer Bud Thompson said he expects the 500 new positions to be added at a similar pace.
“The pace at which we grow jobs is entirely connected to how fast our company grows, either through acquisition of other labs or through organic growth,” Thompson said.
Solstas, which has dual headquarters in High Point and Roanoke, Va., was competing with three other sites for the new jobs, including Roanoke and Knoxville, Tenn.
"High Point was a natural fit for our expansion,” said Solstas CEO David Weavil. “Simply put, the energy and experience of the medical workforce here is exceptional, and meets our needs for a best-in-class organization."
Solstas was formed by the 2010 merger of Spectrum Laboratory Network and Carillon Labs and it has rapidly become one of the largest full-service laboratories in the country, as The Business Journal reported in August.
"The growth of Solstas is important to the local community,” Thompson said. "We've already made a significant impact, I think, and we just expect our growth to continue, and to continue to be a solid contributor to economic growth in the region of High Point.”
The announcement capped off a day of positive economic news for High Point in which Thomas Built Buses’ also announced it plans 50 new hires. Those jobs are related in part to the company’s announcement in December that it would recall 125 workers.
“I’ve had my hopes up a couple of other times,” said Jim Morgan, chairman emeritus of the High Point Economic Development Corp. and immediate past chairman of the Piedmont Triad Partnership. “But I really feel more optimistic now than in several years. I think we’re on way back up very strong.”