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Editor’s note: John Boyd, Jr. is a director at The Boyd Company, which focuses on developing enterprise sites. Boyd is one of the best-known site-selection executives. WRAL TechWire asked him for his assessment of why and how North Carolina won the competition for Durham-based Wolfspeed’s expected announcement on Friday confirming its selection of Chatham County for a new semiconductor chip factory. .


There’s an old phrase used by economic development veterans: “You fish where the fish are. That’s still true, but what we’re seeing now in business-friendly states like North Carolina are “fish jumping into your boat,” especially in the areas of electric vehicles and semiconductors, fueled by massive federal incentives to help kick-start the relocation of these industries. to America from China and Southeast Asia.

Wolfspeed’s decision to invest in northern Chatham County is the latest example of such high-tech mega projects in North Carolina, joining others like Vinfast entering Triangle Innovation Point in Chatham County and Toyota building new new electric vehicle operations at the Liberty site of Randolph Mega in the Triad region.

John Boyd, Jr., Director of the Boyd Group. Image courtesy of Boyd Group.

Let’s pay tribute to Sanjay Mehrotra, CEO of Boise, Idaho-based Micron, who was perfectly candid the other day when he said his company’s new mega-investments in central Texas and Idaho had been made possible by the recent passage of the CHIPS and Science ACT, the $280 billion bill aimed at bolstering U.S. competitiveness against China and averting another chip shortage like the one that derailed a wide range of high- and low-tech manufacturing operations around the world.

Toyota Doubles Investment in NC Battery Factory to $2.5 Billion, Creating Hundreds of Jobs

The Wave of New Deals for NC

In the triad, Toyota Motor Corp. just announced plans for 350 additional jobs and a $2.5 billion investment in the Liberty electric vehicle battery plant as construction begins on the mega site. The Toyota subsidiary plans to build lithium-ion batteries at the plant for about 200,000 hybrid and electric vehicles per year. Federal green incentives and numerous other electric vehicle projects from Ford, GM, Stellantis, LG & Honda, Tesla across the country also point to an undeniable electric future for the US auto industry. Additionally, next week, chipmaker Intel Corp. will open its planned $20 billion semiconductor plant in Ohio, the largest industrial project in that state’s history.

VinFast buys land on site of future $4 billion factory in Chatham County for $44 million

We see North Carolina continuing its momentum in attracting new EV and chip makers to the state. On the electric vehicle front, North Carolina is one of the world’s largest suppliers of lithium to the electric vehicle battery industry thanks to its huge deposits of hard rock lithium. World-class research in the development of lithium batteries and electric vehicles has been conducted for years at North Carolina State University and UNC and contributes greatly to the state’s success in this field by booming.

Wolfspeed chooses Chatham County for new semiconductor plant, 1,800 jobs

Labor requirements

Can the state provide the labor resources to staff these large new electric vehicle and chip factories? Absolutely. A few decades ago, our company was asked the same question about whether the Greenville/Spartanburg area of ​​South Carolina could support BMW and the nascent auto industry there. We answered yes due to the attractiveness of the region’s lifestyle and the attractive wages and benefits paid by the automotive industry which would result in the acceptance of long journeys and, more importantly, large-scale relocations. scale to northern South Carolina. BMW alone employs more than 10,000 workers at its plant in the Spartanburg area.

North Carolina’s workforce training program through its stellar system of community colleges is the benchmark in economic development and a key asset in attracting more major players in the industries. technology, electric vehicles and pharmaceuticals. These industries require a highly skilled workforce, and North Carolina has a workforce training and continuing education infrastructure to provide the human capital side of the equation.

Other attractive assets for companies

I see the same scenario playing out in North Carolina taking advantage of its low taxes, affordable housing (by Northeastern and California standards), and access to lifestyle amenities in the mountains , on the shore and in urban playgrounds. Moving people to North Carolina has always been an easy sell for Boyd Co. customers like Dell, PepsiCo, Pratt & Whitney, GlaxoSmithKline, for example

Another valuable labor resource for these companies coming to North Carolina are graduates of NC State, UNC Chapel Hill, Duke, and other North Carolina universities who wish to stay in the state after graduation. graduating or returning home to raise a family and advance their careers later in life.

Other site selection fundamentals are strong for North Carolina, such as water resources, affordable and reliable energy, a positive labor-management relations climate, and a highly competitive financial incentive program to help reduce the huge capital costs associated with these new high-tech mega-factories. .