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Syneos Health leaves state jobs deal, months after Morrisville company goes private

Syneos Health, a Morrisville biopharma company and one of Wake County’s larger employers, exited its state incentive agreement this week, citing evolving market conditions and the rise of at-home work.

Formed through a 2018 merger between INC Research and InVentiv Health, Syneos was taken private last year by a group of investment firms that acquired the company in September.

In its 2016 grant agreement, Syneos committed to create 495 jobs in Wake County and retain more than 2,080 positions at his headquarters near Research Triangle Park. On Tuesday, the state’s Economic Investment Committee approved paying the company $874,000 for meeting its hiring and investment thresholds under the grant terms for 2018 and 2019. However, the same day, North Carolina voted to terminate the overall grant that could have awarded Syneos up to $8.4 million.

It was a vote the company desired.

“We genuinely appreciate the cooperation and guidance we have received throughout the duration of the agreement,” Syneos chief accounting officer Donna Kralowetz wrote in an Aug. 4 letter to the North Carolina Department of Commerce. “However, due to unforeseen changes in market conditions and most notably the evolution of the work from home landscape, we have had to reevaluate our ability to meet our requirements as initially agreed to in our (job development investment grant) agreement.”

This summer, Syneos had 2,077 employees working either at its Morrisville headquarters or remotely within the state. This was 100 fewer than the company employed entering 2023, a decline Kralowetz attributed to “organic attrition.”

Syneos, she wrote, is under lease at its 258,000-square-foot Morrisville headquarters until 2032.

Most economic projects backed by North Carolina incentives fail to reach their initial hiring targets, and it is not uncommon for the state to end grant deals early.

So far in 2023, the Swiss bank Credit Suisse left its jobs deal in Research Triangle Park while the Raleigh telecommunications software firm Bandwidth ended its incentive to give it more flexibility in hiring decisions. On Tuesday, the Economic Investment Committee also terminated a jobs grant for Clorox in Durham.

The state contends these early endings do not harm taxpayers, as public money is tied to the companies reaching hiring and investment targets. Since the pandemic, North Carolina has awarded fewer incentives for office-based, white-collar jobs — instead approving manufacturing projects that depend more on in-person work.

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