GE-Hitachi Nuclear will expand its headquarters, create 900 additional jobs and invest $704 million in the project, state and company officials announced Wednesday.

Gov. Mike Easley disclosed details of the project at a news conference in Wilmington.

Tax incentives worth as much as $25.7 million from the state were approved Wednesday morning in Raleigh by the Economic Investment Committee. The Job Development Investment Grant is a rebate of state payroll taxes. Local government officials in Wilmington offered some $10 million in tax incentives last September. The state also is providing the company a $900,000 One North Carolina fund grant.

“GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy is pleased to expand our Wilmington headquarters,” said President and Chief Executive Officer Jack Fuller. “The leadership of the state of North Carolina and New Hanover County has long demonstrated a strong commitment to economic growth and job creation. Through their efforts, our state and region have an outstanding workforce, excellent educational institutions and a business environment that encourages and promotes entrepreneurship and opportunity for all our citizens.”

GE-Hitachi’s decision to expand is in response to growing global demand for nuclear power as an alternative to coal and other energy sources.

“GE’s decision to expand its world headquarters for nuclear operations in New Hanover shows that North Carolina understands the connection between education and economic development in the 21st century,” Easley said in a statement. “GE recognizes that our nation’s ability to dominate the global economy is based on making sure our kids get a college education. Through its partnership with Cape Fear Community College with the new Nuclear Maintenance Technology Program, we will continue to prepare our workers with the knowledge, talent and skill to succeed.”

The GE subsidiary provides services in four areas – nuclear reactors, nuclear fuel, reactor services and performance services.

The new jobs will pay average wages of $85,000.

The company plans to add manufacturing, training, simulation and testing facilities on its 1,300 acre campus.

According to the governor’s office, the expansion project could also include a commercial uranium enrichment facility. It would utilize a new laser process.

“It sounds good, it sounds safe and it’s going to be good for this area,” Easley said at the press conference, according to the Wilmington Star-News newspaper.

Last September, the Wilmington Star newspaper reported GE-Hitachi Nuclear’s possible plans.

"Wilmington is a great place," Andy White, chief executive officer of GE-Hitachi Nuclear, said in a written statement provided to the Wilmington paper. "We want to team up with the county to make this an attractive place to grow our business."

A year ago, GE-Hitachi Nuclear opened a reactor technology design center in nearby Castle Hayne. That project was expected to create some 250 jobs.

GE-Hitachi Nuclear moved its headquarters to Castle Hayne in 2003 with help from $11 million in state and local subsidies.