RALEIGH, N.C. — Enticed by some $70 million in state and local incentives, privately held Fidelity Investments said Wednesday it would build a $100 million facility in Research Triangle Park and bring 2,000 high-paying jobs to North Carolina.

It’s the biggest recruitment deal for North Carolina since the state landed a manufacturing plant and as many as 1,500 jobs from Dell Computer in late 2004.

“I want to send out the word: We’re hard after the Big Apple,” said a smiling Governor Mike Easley in an applause-filled press conference at the Capitol building in downtown Raleigh.

The decision is a big boost for North Carolina’s growing reputation as a financial services center. Credit Suisse recently announced plans to double its workforce in RTP to some 800 people. Charlotte, meanwhile, continues to grow as a banking center. Some 200,000 people now work in financial services across the state, according to Easley. And he wants more.

“This will have a tremendous ripple effect,” Easley said. Referring to changes in law and concerns about security in the wake of the 9/11/01 terrorist attacks, Easley said more companies “are going to go some place outside of New York. Fidelity’s credibility sends a loud message.”

The Fidelity jobs will pay an average of $58,400 plus benefits. At this time, Fidelity plans to hire a mix of information technology, services and support personnel.

North Carolina won a bidding war against several other states for the $100 million facility it plans to build, said Don Haile, senior vice president and site manager for Fidelity’s North Carolina operations. Fidelity, which is based in Raleigh and ranks as one of the world’s largest financial organizations, already has some 1,000 workers in the Triangle. They will be moved to the RTP facility when it’s completed in 2009, Haile said.

Fidelity agreed to buy some 260 acres of land along the southern edge of RTP in Wake County for its new facility. The RTP Foundation sold the land for $20 million, according to Rick Weddle, the Foundation’s chief executive officer.

Haile cited several factors in Fidelity’s decision to pick RTP: quality of life, talented workforce and infrastructure along with the incentives package.

“The incentives were very important in making the decision,” said Haile, a 34-year IBM career executive before joining Fidelity eight years ago as its chief information officer. Haile spent much of his IBM career in RTP. He returned to the Triangle to oversee Fidelity’s N.C. operations, which opened in 2002.

State and local officials have been aggressively recruiting Fidelity for months, and Haile said picking the Triangle for the site was not an easy decision. “As you may know, in June we announced a new call center and 1,200 jobs in Jacksonville FL,” he said. “Those jobs could have come to the Research Triangle.”

While the package is not as extensive as the $300 million needed to land the Dell plant, Wake County, the state and the state’s Community College System are providing almost $70 million in grants, tax rebates, tax refunds and training.

Jim Fain, the state’s Department of Commerce secretary, cited the incentives as:

  • $54.6 million in Job Development Investment Grants, which is a portion of state income taxes paid by Fidelity workers that will be refunded to the company
  • A $2 million One North Carolina Fund grant
  • An estimated $3.8 million in refunds on state sales taxes paid on such things as office equipment (a recent change in state law made companies such as Fidelity eligible for the program)
  • $4.6 million in training and grants for training; the training will be provided by the state’s Community College system
  • A $1 million infrastructure grant from Wake County
  • An estimated $3.2 million in property tax rebates based on the value of the property and facilities that Fidelity constructs

    State, local and county incentives of some $40 million were needed to land the vaccine production plant Novartis plans to build in Holly Springs. That project, announced last month, will create 750 jobs.

    According to Fain, North Carolina will reap considerable benefits over the 12-year time span of the incentives given to Fidelity. “Our model projects $94 million net state revenue impact,” he said, “plus a $4.3 billion addition to the gross state product.”