Sanford plans for 100 new jobs as latest Japanese company picks North Carolina

A Japanese biotech manufacturer promises to build its first North American manufacturing facility in the Lee County seat of Sanford, with a plan to create more than 100 jobs over the next three years.

On Tuesday, the North Carolina Economic Investment Committee awarded an incentive grant to Kyowa Kirin, the most recent business from Japan to commit to the Tar Heel State. Its future Sanford site will produce trial drugs and commercial treatments, the state Commerce Department said.

Average wages at the incoming facility will be $91,500. The median household income in Lee County is $60,941, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

In exchange for creating 102 jobs and investing $200 million, Kyowa Kirin would receive up to $1.6 million from the state and approximately $8.7 million in additional Lee and Sanford incentives. The facility will be built at the Helix Innovation Park at Brickyard, a 900-acre site in the northern area of the county, about 40 miles southwest of Raleigh.

“Kyowa Kirin will be an excellent addition to our growing life sciences community,” Sanford Mayor Rebecca Salmon said in a statement. The city already has a significant pharmaceutical presence through Pfizer, which operates a 230-acre local site.

Gov. Roy Cooper recruited Kyowa Kirin during his October visit to Tokyo for the Southeastern United States/Japan Economic Development Conference. Since then, three Japanese companies have announced jobs projects in North Carolina, the state Commerce Department said in a statement Tuesday.

This week’s announcements continue a decades-long connection between the state and East Asian country. From 2018 to 2022, Japanese businesses have committed more than $6.6 billion and more than 5,100 jobs in North Carolina, according to the Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina.

Today, around 30,500 state residents work for Japanese companies. North Carolina has had an economic development office in Japan since 1978. Japanese companies in the state include Bridgestone, which has operated a tire factory in Wilson since it acquired Firestone in 1988.

In 2021, Toyota announced plans to build a battery manufacturing factory south of Greensboro, which the state anticipates will employ more than 5,000 people. The following year, Fujifilm Diosynth said it will open another manufacturing site in the Triangle, adding to the firm’s existing site in Morrisville and its incoming site in Holly Springs.

Then in November, the Japanese company Dai Nippon Printing pledged to create 352 jobs at a new lithium-ion battery plant northeast of Charlotte.

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