Employment across the Research Triangle Region fell by more than 2,800 last year despite businesses announcing expansion and growth projects worth some $1.5 billion, an economic development group reported Thursday.

This year is off to a promising start despite the lingering effects of the recession with $243 million in new plants and expansions announced already, the Research Triangle Regional Partnership said at its annual “State of the Triangle” briefing on Thursday.

Some 6,600 jobs were pledged in 2010, and so far this year an additional 1,400 jobs are anticipated, said Charles Hayes, the group’s CEO.

“Our diverse, innovation-based economy makes this region one of the most resilient in the world,” said Hayes, who uses the annual events as a pep talk for regional growth. “Growing companies continue to respond by choosing our region to build their future.”

The regional partnership includes 13 counties.

Hayes acknowledged that employment fell by 2,827 last year. Of the 13 counties, three reported job growth: Lee with 309, Moore with 181 and Vance with 138.

“The fact that our employment dipped only slightly this year combined with the many positive economic indicators we’ve seen in recent months, clearly demonstrates the strength of our region’s economy,” Hayes said.

The 13 counties include: Chatham, Durham, Franklin, Granville, Harnett, Johnston, Lee, Moore, Orange, Person, Vance, Wake and Warren.

Despite the job losses from the recession, the region’s employment is up 32,817 over the span of 2005 through 2010, Hayes said.

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