Clayton and Johnston County celebrated a big win in the competition for high-paying jobs Wednesday when Novo Nordisk announced plans to expand its plant there by almost 700 employees.

“This is huge for Clayton and also huge for Johnston County,” said Clayton Mayor Jody McCleod. “It’s also huge for the state of North Carolina.”

North Carolina had competition from Denmark and Massachusetts, but Novo a local partnership built up over years paid off in the promise of a $1.85 billion investment at the existing Clayton site. The company’s work on ingredients for diabetes treatments will create 691 jobs that pay about $68,000 a year, more than $20,000 more than the average Johnston County wage.

“We have invested into factories in New Hampshire in our biopharmaceuticals division. We have our (United States) headquarters in Princeton (NJ). But, for us, the future hub has been decided to be here in Clayton,” Jesper Hoiland, U.S. president of the Danish company said to cheers.

“We decided on Clayton, North Carolina, because this is where we’ve been, this is the partnership we’ve talked about, and this is where we want to be.”

Incentives also mattered. North Carolina promised $17.6 million in grants and job training, Clayton threw in $800,000 in infrastructure, and Johnston County committed $94 million in property tax reimbursements over the next 15 years.

Chris Johnston, economic development director of Johnston County, said the plan expansion is still expected to yield an additional $400 million in property taxes for county coffers.

“Our county commissioners aggressively went after (this deal),” Johnston said. “If you build relationships with the companies that are already here, you’ll get them to grow, and you’ll get a bigger bang for the buck.”

The incentives include a purchase of 95 acres of land where the plant will be located for some $2.2 million by the county.

The land will be leased to the company, and the firm will have an option to purchase it.