Local Tech Wire

DURHAM, N.C. – Cree (Nasdaq: CREE) is expanding its capabilities in the Triangle with a new production line focused on larger semiconductor wafers that are used in light emitting diodes.


The company said it would create an additional 250 jobs by 2013.

Cree, which already employs more than 1,700 people in Durham County, announced the jobs at a press conference Monday afternoon attended by Gov. Bev Perdue and U.S. Senators Richard Burr and Kay Hagan.

The additional line will be located at an existing RTP facility.

Cree will use the new line to produce recently developed LED wafers that are double previous the size. The larger chips will make LED production more cost effective, according to Cree.

“Cree is proud to be expanding our operations in North Carolina,” said Cree Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Chuck Swoboda, “The establishment of this next generation wafer fab capability will help us to lead the next phase of the LED lighting revolution.”

The state awarded Cree a Job Development Investment Grant, which is a rebate covering a portion of state employee withholding taxes if new job creation goals are met. The JDIG could be worth as much as $2.24 million over 10 years.

Company executive Greg Merritt told the Associated Press that the new jobs are in addition to a plan announced last year to hire 575 new workers by the end of 2012.

Cree will invest $135 million in the new line. The jobs will pay an average wage of $42,726. The average Durham County wage is $57,772.

“Cree is a homegrown success story,” Perdue said. “Not just because they started here and grew into a global leader in efficient lighting technology, but also because North Carolina’s top-notch workforce and top-rated business climate helped encourage them to stay, expand and thrive here at home.”

Other growth by Cree could be coming in the near future.

Last week, Durham County Commissioners discussed $2 million inn tax incentives for Cree.

Cree said it was considering locations for a $392 million plant to manufacture light-emitting diodes (LEDs).

If Cree picks Durham County, the facility would lead to 244 full-time jobs and 84 jobs for contractors, the Durham herald Sun reported last week.

Cree also considered sites in China and Malaysia for the facility.

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