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Local Tech Wire

DURHAM, N.C. – Light-emitting diode and electronic chip maker (Nasdaq: CREE) is expanding its manufacturing capacity in China.

The Durham-based company, which recently announced plans to add some 500 workers in the Research Triangle area, said Monday that it is purchasing a 592,000-square-foot facility in the city of Huizhou, which is in Guangdon Province.

According to Cree, it will build its first chip production facility outside of North America at Huizhou, which is in southern China.

“This investment enables us to expand our presence in China and demonstrates our commitment to serving the growing demands of both our local and global LED customers,” said Chuck Swoboda, Cree’s chairman and chief executive officer, in a statement. “We are building on a solid foundation in Huizhou with a strong local management team and a history of manufacturing excellence. We look forward to continued success in China as we drive the LED lighting revolution.”

During an earnings conference call last month, Swoboda told analysts that demand for LEDs had the company operating “pretty flat out.”

Cree had previously disclosed plans to expand its operations to meet growing global demand for LEDs. The LEDs are more energy efficient and last longer than other lighting sources.

Planning for expansion, Cree recently raised more than $400 million through a stock offering.

Cree already has a facility in Huizhou and more than half its total employees work in China, the company noted.

The city of Huizhou also is joining Cree’s LED City program in which municipalities deploy LED lights. Huizhou already has conducted several LED trials.