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Japanese pharmaceutical company to open in Sanford, create over 100 new jobs, NC officials say

Sanford will be getting over 100 new jobs in the biotechnology sector, North Carolina officials announced Tuesday, under the terms of a deal the state finalized with the U.S. branch of Japanese pharmaceutical research company Kyowa Kirin.

In exchange for the 102 jobs and millions of dollars in promised capitol investment in Lee County, Kyowa Kirin will receive approximately $2 million in tax breaks and other incentives from the state government. The local city and county governments are kicking in an additional $8.7 million.

State officials said the more than $10 million in total taxpayer-funded incentives to the project will be worth it: If the company hits all the goals needed to get the incentives, an economic model estimates the new company will grow the state’s economic output by over $1 billion, bringing in tens of millions of dollars in new state revenues down the line.

To receive the funds, the company will also have to pay its new workers an average wage more than $91,000 per year — nearly double the average wage in Lee County.

Lee County is already home to several other pharmaceutical companies, including a different Japanese company, Astellas, as well as a large Pfizer manufacturing plant.

Kyowa Kirin is just the latest Japanese company to invest in North Carolina, part of a years-long effort by Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper to make inroads with business leaders there.

“North Carolina’s leadership as a life sciences powerhouse for research and manufacturing aligns well with this company’s reputation for creating innovative treatments, and we believe they will find great success here,” Cooper said in a press release Tuesday.

Cooper said he met with Kyowa Kirin executives last year in Tokyo, when he was also meeting with Toyota executives.

Cooper has courted Toyota hard, leading to a massive planned battery factory between Sanford and Greensboro, in Randolph County. Last year’s Tokyo meeting led to an announcement that Toyota’s factory would be even bigger than originally planned. Scheduled to begin operation next year, the factory will produce batteries for electric vehicles and must employ at least 5,100 people in order to receive the state’s ambitious incentives offer of $900 million.

The central part of the state has seen an influx in manufacturing investment in recent years, with thousands of new jobs promised — and not just in Lee and Randolph counties. Chatham County is home to two massive factories underway, by Durham-based semiconductor manufacturer Wolfspeed and Vietnamese electric car company VinFast. In Greensboro, a new plant by Boom Supersonic to build and test jets is expected to open this year.

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