'This area is in the major leagues now:' Breaking down the Triangle's big day in tech company news

Joel Brown Image
Friday, March 19, 2021
Breaking down the Triangle's big day in tech company news
It was a big day for tech in Triangle, both Google and Fujifilm Diosynth Biotechnologies will be making big investments in the area bringing a combined total of nearly 2,000 jobs.

All smiles from Governor Roy Cooper, Thursday, through a whirlwind of big business deals for the Triangle: Fujifilm Diosynth Biotechnologies announcing it's investing $1.5 billion for a new vaccine plant in Holly Springs.

"Creating 725 new good-paying jobs," Cooper said to the socially-distant crowd gathered for the Fuji news.

And the governor was right there on the virtual news conference from Durham for the huge news from Google: The tech giant has selected the Bull City for its new cloud computing hub -- promising up to 1,000 jobs.

"This whole Triangle area has really elevated itself," said NC State economics professor Michael Walden. For Walden, the news came as more confirmation that the Triangle has arrived; The Raleigh metro area no longer the sleepy southern capital of 40 years ago. With major research universities, a steady supply of highly-educated talent mixed with a competitive cost of living, Walden's convinced the Triangle economy may be pandemic-proof.

"You combine that with the other big things going on in the Triangle, particularly in terms of commercial development in Raleigh: Glenwood South, (North Hills) Innovation Center; South Park, etc., this area is ready to take off after the pandemic," Walden saidFujifilm Diosynth President and CEO Martin Meeson discussed his company's plans with ABC 11. The vaccine plant in Holly Springs will become what Meeson says is the largest biopharmaceutical manufacturing facility in North America.

"Investing up to $2 billion, that is a significant investment," Meeson said.

He also addressed concerns over how many of the 725 high-paying jobs promised by Fuji, would be filled by local job-seekers or transplants from other states.

"With things like this, it's always a mix. But one of the key things that we have here is the buildup and generation of talent in the biotech space," he said.

Back in Durham, the Chamber of Commerce told ABC11, the chamber is committed to helping lure companies that are also invested in equity and inclusion and diversifying their workforce -- that Google fits right in.

Duke University visiting professor at Sanford School of Public Policy John Quinterno told ABC 11, he's cautiously optimistic.

"Who would benefit from the growth; who will get the jobs; which communities would prosper; which would be disadvantaged?" he asked. "The devil is in the details. And many of the consequences for our community depends on those details."

Another one of those details is how many tax dollars it took to lure those companies. Fuji accepted over $19 million in Job Development Investment Grants (JDIG) money. No tax incentives have been announced, so far, for Google.