RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK — John Chambers and Michael Dell, two of the heaviest hitters in the world of information technology, came to North Carolina on Wednesday to add their weight to the state’s efforts to further expand its IT industry.

Chambers, chief executive officer of networking giant Cisco Systems, attended the dedication of Cisco’s new global Education and Development Center at Cisco’s campus in RTP.

Dell, the chairman of Dell, was in Winston-Salem at about the same time to dedicate the computing giant’s brand-new 750,000 square foot manufacturing facility.

Reflecting the importance — and politics — of the event to the state’s future, dignitaries ranging from educators to politicians turned out for each event, with Governor Mike Easley trekking to the Triad and Lt. Gov. Beverly Perdue speaking at the Cisco event.

In his remarks, Chambers stressed that more than investments by high-tech firms in new facilities and jobs are required if North Carolina’s economy and IT sector are to continue to grow.

“There are four factors that will define the success of a region or state in the global economy,” Chambers said.

“Education-quality of an education system produces employees but also attracts employees.

“Infrastructure for IT networks, not only the spread of broadband but also highways and air service. Regions have to maintain and invest in infrastructure.

“The quality of life, such as ease of access to services and recreational opportunities.

“And a cooperative government. Do local government officials and business leaders engage in strategies that promote the growth and health of the community?

“North Carolina and specifically RTP have all these and that is why Cisco is 15 times the size here than when we built our site 12 years ago,” he added.

Chambers also said that the Cisco campus “has the culture and the location to continue to grow but that growth will depend on business success.”

The new training center will add up to 40 jobs immediately and included an investment of several million dollars.

In the Triad

In Winston-Salem, meanwhile, Dell took the media and guests on tours of its new showcase facility that was built at a cost of more than $100 million.

Dell wrangled millions of dollars in subsidies from state and local governments in negotiating where the plant would be built.

Reflecting changes in the computing industry, the facility, which is Dell’s third and largest, will deliver computers built on customer demand.

“Dell’s growth, and the need for our new North Carolina plant, is the result of the direct way we do business and the efficiency, productivity and customer focus of our employees,” Dell said. “Our manufacturing operations give us a competitive advantage and we’re confident this new plant will add to that.”

Some 700 people will be hired to man the plant in its first year of operation. Dell is committed to hiring as many as 1,500 over the next five years.

By the way, PCs built during the initial product run have been donated to SciWorks, Winston-Salem’s science and technology museum, as well as the State of North Carolina and regional and local governments.

To see LTW’s story previewing the new Cisco facility, see: