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Mitsubishi Nuclear Ops Coming To Charlotte

Mitsubishi announced Tuesday it will locate its main nuclear engineering office in Charlotte and create 135 jobs here over the next five years. Mitsubishi designs nuclear power reactors and two of its direct competitors - Areva and Toshiba - have major engineering operations in Charlotte. As a result, Mitsubishi spokesman Pat Boyle says Charlotte is teeming with something the company needs desperately - engineers who know nuclear. "The United States went through a period of nuclear power plant construction in the 60s, 70s and into the 80s and then did no more new construction, so in the intervening 20-25 years, a lot people who were nuclear engineers retired and there weren't a lot of new young people coming into the field," says Boyle. The Charlotte Chamber estimates about 9,000 engineers are working in the Charlotte area. Likely more than a thousand of them work in nuclear. Charlotte Chamber Senior Vice President Jeff Edge credits the emerging cluster to a kind of "herding mentality" that started with Duke Energy. "If it weren't for Duke driving this energy sector for the last couple of years, we probably wouldn't be seeing it as dominantly as we are," Edge. The 135 new engineering jobs Mitsubishi hopes to add in Charlotte over the next five years will pay an average salary of $102,000. If the company meets that target, it will qualify for $2.8 million in economic incentives from the state. Much of Mitsubishi's success in meeting that goal will hinge on the ability of utility companies to build new nuclear plants in the U.S. Many of those plans have slowed down recently because of high construction costs and the ongoing nuclear crisis in Japan.