Business Report – North Carolina: Growing Innovation Throughout The Tarheel State

By Ed Felton
From the September/October 2015 Issue

Gov. Pat McCrory wants North Carolina to compete with Silicon Valley and the Boston region in technology and innovation, a commitment backed up by the appropriations in the state budget he signed this month.

Almost $14 million in new funding was approved for the North Carolina Biotechnology Center. The NC Biotech Center, based in Raleigh (with a regional office in Winston-Salem), has played a pivotal role in creating a statewide biotech workforce of 61,000 people at more than 600 locations, generating an estimated $1.76 billion in economic impact and high-wage jobs for NC. The average pay for biotech jobs in North Carolina is $81,000 a year.

Doug Edgeton, President, NC Biotechnology Center. (Credit:

“We’re extremely grateful to receive full funding in the current budget proposal,” said Doug Edgeton, the center’s president and a former head of Piedmont Triad Research Park, now known as Wake Forest Innovation Quarter.

“Life science companies across the state have communicated with legislators, explaining the impact that the biotech center has on their business,” Edgeton said. “Direct funding through loans and grants is always helpful, and the connections we help businesses make creates a powerful ecosystem that fuels the sector’s growth. With this state support, life sciences will continue to be a bright spot in North Carolina’s future.”

The NC Biotech Center will receive $8.83 million in state funding for centers of innovation, business and technology development, education and training, and related activities; $2.92 million for job creation, including agriculture biotech initiatives, economic and industrial development and related activities; and $1.86 million for the center’s operations.

A new program run by N.C. State University also aims to promote innovation in the Tarheel State. InnovateNC is an intensive, two-year cross-city learning collaborative dedicated to fostering a creative innovative environment similar to Research Triangle Park.

Five NC metros—Wilson, Wilmington, Asheville, Greensboro and Pembroke—recently were selected by the N.C. State-run Institute for Emerging Issues to participate in InnovateNC.

The group received a total of 18 proposals from communities across the state. Partners in the effort include Forward Impact, the UNC System, Duke University, RTI International, UNC Chapel Hill’s Kenan Institute for Private Enterprise, UNC-TV, the Council for Entrepreneurial Development, the Research Triangle Foundation, and the NC Board of Science, Technology & Innovation.

The City of Wilmington and the Carolina Coast will receive $250,000 from InnovateNC to strengthen the region’s emerging innovation ecosystem in the marine and life sciences. Wilmington’s proposal was made in collaboration with the University of North Carolina Wilmington, New Hanover County, Marine Bio-Technologies Center of Innovation, the Town of Leland, Brunswick County, NC Biotech Center SE Office and Brunswick Community College.


Novo Nordisk Pharmaceutical Industries, Inc., will create approximately 700 jobs at a new bio-manufacturing facility in Johnston County, NC. The company will invest from $1.2 to $1.7 billion at its local site over the next five years.

“This billion-dollar decision by Novo Nordisk more than doubles the size of its North Carolina workforce and underscores the Research Triangle’s global leadership in bio-manufacturing,” said Gov. Pat McCrory. “When it comes to life sciences and manufacturing, North Carolina can compete—and win—against any location in the world.”

Rendering above shows the administration building that will be part of Novo Nordisk’s $1.2-billion project, which includes a new bio-manufacturing plant in Johnson County, NC and create 700 new jobs. (Credit: Novo Nordisk)

Denmark-based Novo Nordisk is a leading global manufacturer of insulin and related diabetes treatment products. Founded in 1923, the company employs 39,700 people across 75 countries. The new North Carolina plant will manufacture active pharmaceutical ingredients for its diabetes care products. Previously, the company had manufactured its active ingredients only in Denmark.

Novo Nordisk currently employs more than 700 people at an insulin production plant in Clayton, near where it plans to construct its new facility. Its existing facility opened in 1996 and has since undergone several expansions, most recently in 2013. Jobs at its new production site will average $68,420 in annual compensation. Johnston County’s overall average wage currently equals $34,448 per year. New positions will span manufacturing, administrative, technical services and support personnel.

“For some time, we have been evaluating several options to bring more capacity into the United States because of this great need for diabetes medicines. After a thorough evaluation of multiple sites and an extensive vetting process, Clayton ended up being our preferred location,” says Jesper Høiland, President of Novo Nordisk Inc. USA and Executive Vice President Novo Nordisk A/S. “We already have a large and very professional organization here, and have been impressed by the excellent collaboration we have had with this city, county and state leadership, and appreciate the incentives they have secured in connection with this investment.”

An award from the state’s Job Development Investment Grant (JDIG) program to Novo Nordisk helped make the project possible, as voted by the state Economic Investment Committee. Receipt of the award is based on proof of job creation and other performance requirements. JDIGs are awarded only to new and expanding businesses and industrial projects whose benefits exceed the costs to the state and would not be undertaken in North Carolina without the reimbursement.

Under the terms of the company’s JDIG, Novo Nordisk is eligible to receive up to twelve annual reimbursements equal to 75 percent of the state personal income tax withholdings from the eligible new jobs created since the date of the initial award. Receipt of each annual reimbursement is based on state-certified proof that the company has fulfilled incremental job creation requirements. Over 12 years, the JDIG could yield aggregate benefits to Novo Nordisk of $15.8 million upon the creation of approximately 700 jobs.

More than $5.2 million in additional funds from the company’s JDIG award could be added to the state’s Utility Fund for infrastructure improvements in less populated counties. When a JDIG is awarded to a company whose site is located in the state’s more populated, economically prosperous counties such as Johnston, a percentage of the company’s grant is allocated to the Utility Fund for in Tier 1 and Tier 2 counties.


Butterball, LLC is expanding its operations in Hoke County, creating 367 new jobs over the next three years. The company plans to invest $66.75 million in the city of Raeford over the same period.

“Butterball is one of North Carolina’s great success stories,” said Gov. McCrory. “The company is known all over the world for its products, and it is great to see it expand its presence here. North Carolina currently ranks first in the nation in turkey production by pound, and the industry is an important part of the state’s economy.”

Headquartered in Garner, Butterball is the largest producer of turkey products in the U.S., producing more than one billion pounds of turkey each year. For more than 60 years, the company has provided foodservice and retail products to customers and consumers around the world. Butterball products are currently distributed throughout the U.S. and in more than 45 countries. Butterball operates six processing plants located in North Carolina, Arkansas, Illinois and Missouri and employs more than 6,000 people in its plants, farms, hatcheries, feed mills and corporate offices.

Salaries will vary by job but will include production labor, machine operators, distribution, and warehousing. The average annual payroll will exceed $10.6 million.

“We are thrilled to expand our presence in Raeford,” said Kerry Doughty, Butterball president and chief executive officer. “We’ve enjoyed our relationship with the community throughout the years, and we are proud to continue building that relationship. Our facility will total more than 200,000-square feet, and we will welcome more than 200 individuals into initial job placements over the next 10 months.”

The project was made possible in part by a performance-based grant from the One North Carolina Fund of up to $150,000. The One NC Fund provides financial assistance, through local governments, to attract business projects that will stimulate economic activity and create new jobs in the state. Companies receive no money up front and must meet job creation and investment performance standards to qualify for grant funds. These grants also require and are contingent upon local matches.

Gov. McCrory also recently announced an expansion in Wake County: DB Global Technology, Inc. will undertake add 250 jobs over the coming two years at its software application development center. The company plans to invest $9 million there through the end of 2016.

DB Global Technology’s expansion will accommodate a sharpened focus on developing strategic applications and enterprise-wide technology solutions. The company currently employs more than 600 people in Wake County. Compensation for the new positions will vary by job function, but the average annual payroll is estimated to be $21.4 million plus benefits. The average annual wage in Wake County is $50,702. New positions will include technology engineers, software developers and analysts.

Under the terms of the company’s JDIG, DB Global Technology is eligible to receive up to twelve annual reimbursements equal to 35 percent of the state personal income tax withholdings from the eligible new jobs created. Receipt of each annual reimbursement is based on state-certified proof that the company has fulfilled incremental job creation requirements. Over twelve years, the JDIG could yield aggregate benefits to DB Global Technology, Inc. of $3.38 million upon the creation of 250 jobs.

Several partners joined N.C. Commerce and the EDPNC in supporting DB Global Technology’s expansion, including North Carolina Community College System, the Cary Chamber of Commerce, the Town of Cary and Wake County Economic Development.


Mayne Pharma recently announced an expansion of its Greenville, NC facilities. The specialty pharmaceutical company develops and manufactures branded and generic products globally, in addition to providing contract development and manufacturing services. Mayne Pharma plans to add 110 jobs and invest $65 million in a new oral dose manufacturing facility and equipment during the next five years.

“Mayne Pharma has a 30-year track record of innovation and success in developing pharmaceutical products, and the company’s plans to expand facilities and services in eastern North Carolina are key to its business development efforts worldwide,” Gov. McCrory said.

Mayne Pharma’s $65-million expansion plans include the construction of 126,000 square feet of new FDA-compliant space for use in large-scale oral and solid-dose manufacturing. The project was made possible in part by a performance-based grant of up to $550,000 from the One North Carolina Fund.


  1. The North Carolina Biotechnology Center is not located in Raleigh, it is located in Research Triangle Park. It sits in Durham County.

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