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Corning Optical Plans HQ Move To Charlotte From Hickory

Corning Optical Communications plans to move its headquarters from Hickory to a new $38.7 million office building Charlotte in 2018. A spokeswoman said the company is looking at sites off I-485 northwest of Charlotte, and hopes to announce the location by April 1.More than 400 employees would move from the company’s current headquarters off US 321 in Hickory. In exchange for up to $2.35 million in state incentives, Corning also has promised to create 150 new headquarters jobs by 2020, state officials announced.

Altogether, the new headquarters eventually could have more than 500 employees.  

Corning Optical Communications is a division of Corning Inc., of Corning, NY, and makes optical fiber and optical communications equipment.  Corning has a total of 3,000 employees statewide, including what it says are two of the world’s largest optical fiber plants, in Concord and Wilmington, and two of the world’s largest fiber cable plants, in Winston-Salem and Hickory.

Corning has about 1,300 employees in Hickory, and Tuesday’s announcement affects about one third of those, who work in Optical Communications headquarters, a spokeswoman said.

“We remain deeply committed to Hickory. Our major operations and approximately two-thirds of our employees will remain here,” Clark Kinlin, executive vice president of Corning Optical Communications, said in a press release. “We will continue our tradition of support for the Catawba County United Way, STEM initiatives, and other educational and social endeavors. We will also provide comprehensive support to our Hickory-based headquarters team to ensure a smooth transition to our new facility.”

North Carolina economic development officials also announced the move. The state’s Economic Investment Committee on Tuesday voted Tuesday to approve a Job Development Investment Grant (JDIG). Corning would be eligible for up to $2.35 million in incentives, to be paid over 12 years based on whether it hits targets for new jobs and investment in the building.

Corning Optical said it’s moving the operations because of Charlotte’s central location relative to its other North Carolina facilities, the availability of transportation for customers, suppliers, business partners, and employees, and to take advantage of the region’s talent pool.

The spokeswoman said the company is looking at sites northwest of uptown, off I-485 between I-77 and I-85.

Corning hopes to have a site locked up by the end of the first quarter and to break ground in the second half of 2016. Construction would take two years, and the new headquarters could open in 2018, a spokeswoman said.

David Boraks is a veteran journalist who covers climate change for WFAE. See more at www.wfae.org/climate-news. He also has covered housing and homelessness, energy and the environment, transportation and business.