1,800 new jobs may be on the way to Chatham County

The pending state budget includes a $112.5 million appropriation for an economic development project in Chatham County and at least $4.8 billion in investment

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SILER CITY — The new proposed North Carolina budget has opened speculation about the potential occupant of the Chatham-Siler City Advanced Manufacturing (CAM) megasite. 

Reporting from Axios Raleigh revealed Durham-based semiconductor maker Wolfspeed, formerly Cree, may expand into Chatham County under the new state incentive package. 

The proposed state budget, released Tuesday, includes a $112.5 million appropriation for an economic development project in Chatham County, which includes a stipulation for at least $4.8 billion in investment and 1,800 new jobs. 

The funding is part of N.C.'s Job Development Investment Grant program, which is performance-based and requires companies to meet hiring and investment targets before the incentives kick in. The money is intended to "significantly help offset the cost of locating or expanding a facility in the state," according to the North Carolina Department of Commerce. 

Both chambers are expected to pass the proposed budget in the coming days. It would then be sent to Gov. Roy Cooper's desk for final approval.

The bill does not specify the location of the potential plant in Chatham. Fifty-five million dollars of the state appropriations, however, would go to Asheboro for infrastructure improvements to support the site. This suggests the location could be the CAM site about 19 miles east of Asheboro.

Michael Smith, president of the Chatham Economic Development Corp., said last week at the Triangle Business Journal's "Corridors of Opportunity" panel there is high interest in the CAM site.  

He said at the panel there should be a CAM site tenant “by the end of this year, if not earlier.”

However, in a statement Tuesday night, Wolfspeed said it "does not comment on external speculation or rumors about our business operations or plans."

There has been some speculation the CAM site tenant would be a chip manufacturing plant. Wolfspeed also seems to make sense given its investment in chip production for car manufacturers. In October, the company struck a deal with GM for its electric vehicle programs.

Vietnamese electric car manufacturer VinFast is already on the way to the neighboring Triangle Innovation Point megasite in Chatham County — bringing 7,500 jobs. Wolfspeed would add thousands more advanced manufacturing jobs to the county, and continue growth.

Reporter Ben Rappaport can be reached at brappaport@chathamnr.com or on Twitter @b_rappaport

jobs, CAM megasite, Wolfspeed, VinFast, N.C. budget

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