Charlotte Observer: Battery-Parts Maker Celgard Adding 250 Jobs In Concord
A battery-parts maker celebrated by the Obama administration for its green energy technology debuted its new Concord plant on Monday and announced it was adding 250 more jobs to Cabarrus County. Celgard, a leading supplier of a component in lithium-ion batteries used in electric vehicles, will add the manufacturing and engineering jobs over the next two years to its new 150,000-square-foot plant at the International Business Park off Interstate 85. Celgard and its parent company, Polypore International, now employ 600 in the Charlotte area and 800 globally. Celgard already added 200 jobs to its Charlotte and Concord facilities since early last year, as part of an expansion project that would boost its production of battery separators that are a key component of lithium-ion batteries. The separators are used in mobile phones, notebook computers and electric vehicles. Celgard received $49 million in U.S. government stimulus grants for that expansion, as well as $18.6 million in state and local incentives. Gov. Bev Perdue, joined by U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu at Monday's opening, said the 250 additional jobs would be solely at the Concord plant. The jobs will pay an average of $37,912, higher than the Cabarrus County average salary of $32,448. Perdue called Celgard a "red-hot company" that's boosting the state's reputation as an emerging energy hub. North Carolina now has 80,000 workers in sustainable energy jobs, and has the 11th-greenest workforce in the country, Perdue said. "We're doing it here in this state, and we should be incredibly happy about that," Perdue said. "We can go green, and with green there can be gold." Chu said Celgard's strengthens the country's economic competitiveness. "We should never cede high-tech manufacturing to anyone else in the world," he said. Celgard has been heralded as an innovator of clean energy - Perdue noted this was her fourth or fifth visit to the company, and President Barack Obama visited Celgard's Charlotte facility last year for a plant tour and discussion on energy policy. As part of Monday's announcement, North Carolina's Economic Investment Committee also awarded Celgard a job-development grant that could give it up to $2.3 million in incentives over 11 years if it meets performance targets, including job retention. The company also has been awarded $500,000 from the One North Carolina Fund, which provides financial assistance, through local governments, to attract business projects that create new jobs. Celgard will invest $105 million into the Concord facility for the expansion. Company spokeswoman Holli Hughes said that Celgard is moving employees in this week, and has begun installing manufacturing equipment.