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Siemens plans to expand Charlotte facility and add 825 jobs

http://66.225.205.104/LM20100312.mp3

Siemens Energy plans to hire about 825 new employees over the next five years as it expands its operations in Charlotte. Charlotte Chamber of Commerce President Bob Morgan says it's been a long time since the city has seen a manufacturing project of this size. "This is the largest manufacturing project to come to Mecklenburg County since IBM opened its manufacturing plant in the University Research Park in 1978," says Morgan. For months now economic developers have been trying to lure Siemens to locate more of its business in Charlotte. The facility which currently employs 770 people makes the large turbines that produce electricity at power plants. Siemens is getting up to $23 million in state tax breaks and grants, if the company makes good on its hiring promises. City and County officials have also pledged up to $12 million in tax breaks. On top of that, Siemens qualifies for $120 million in low-interest loans through the federal stimulus package. Mark Pringle, who oversees the company's Charlotte operations, says there were other things working in Charlotte's favor. "Finally picked this facility based on one, we already had a facility here of significant size, but the great support we got from the local government to help make that happen," says Pringle. "Frankly the energy hub in Charlotte helped to say, 'yeah, we want to be part of that.'" Charlotte officials are working on making the region an energy hub with companies like Duke Energy and the Shaw Group already calling the city home. Jeff Edge is the Charlotte Chamber's Vice President for Economic Development. He hopes Siemens expansion will encourage other companies in the energy industry to plant their roots in Charlotte. "When a company like Siemens who's recognized around the world as one of the global leaders in energy, when they say we're really reinforcing our position in Charlotte, that will say something to a lot of other companies out there who are thinking about their current position and whether they need to be somewhere other than where they're currently located," says Edge. In October, Siemens announced it would add 226 engineering and manufacturing jobs to its Charlotte facility. Siemens plans to invest $135 million to build and outfits a plant next to its existing facility in southwest Charlotte. The new plant should be up and running by the fall of 2011.