RALEIGH – Eli Lilly plans to grow its presence in North Carolina.  The drug giant will invest a minimum of $939 million and create 589 jobs at a new plant in Concord and Cabarrus County.

The expansion was disclosed Friday morning as the state’s North Carolina Economic Investment Committee struck a deal with the life science giant.  The deal was officially announced during a virtual press conference, at which North Carolina Department of Commerce Secretary Machelle Baker Sanders announced that the firm would invest more than $1 billion in the new facility.

Expanding in North Carolina

The new facility in Concord will allow the company to increase the development and production of life-saving medicines, as well as complete device assembly and final packaging for late-stage drug candidates, utilizing technology to manufacture parenteral (injectable) products and devices, a statement from North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper noted in announcing the deal.

“Lilly’s choice brings more good jobs to North Carolina from one of our most important industries,” said Governor Cooper in the statement. “North Carolina has become a premier hub for the world, thanks to our exceptional workforce and commitment to education.”

The new facility will also allow the company to meet additional operational needs and integrate its existing investments, as well as bolster the drug company’s long term capacity for supply chain diversity needs, a Department of Commerce official noted.  The company has seven existing manufacturing sites in the United States, and has manufacturing sites in eight countries globally.

That includes the drug manufacturing facility that Lilly is already building in Research Triangle Park, at which the firm expects to create some 462 jobs under the terms of a prior JDIG agreement reached with the state.  The company acquired land in RTP in 2021 citing future investment possibility in the region.

“When we need to build new manufacturing plants, that is usually a good sign,” said Michael Mason, senior vice president, Eli Lilly and Company, and president, Lilly Diabetes, during the virtual press conference on Friday.  “We expect five additional launches in the next few years.”

Inside the Lilly deal: A detailed look at Lilly’s decision to invest $1B in Concord

Collaboration, partnership key to the deal

Mason said that the company considered locations across the globe, adding that the relationships and the commitment from city and county officials were critical in the selection of Concord.

“We’re so pleased with the partnership,” added Mason.  “By putting the site here, we can make the medications we need to support those with many diseases who need our help.”

The company will receive some $17 million in state tax rebates assuming job commitments are met and community college training. Cabarrus County and the City of Concord also are providing incentives worth $75 million, according to North Carolina Department of Commerce officials who outlined “Project Cardinal” during the Economic Investment Committee this morning.

The new jobs will pay an average of about $70,000, according to the details on the deal, which was known as “Project Cardinal.”  The jobs based at the RTP facility are expected to pay average wages of about $72,000, according to prior WRAL TechWire reporting.

Sanders noted that the new facility could add nearly $8 billion to the state’s GDP during the press conference.

Eli Lilly returns to RTP with $470M plant for diabetes drugs

The latest life science deal

The latest deal is one of a series of announcements over the past 13 months for North Carolina’s booming life sciences sector.

“One industry in particular is doing especially well,” said Secretary Machelle Baker Sanders during a press event on Wednesday.  “I’m talking, of course, about the life sciences.”

Sanders called the industry “the cornerstone of our economy,” during the press conference, adding that it is “truly a state-wide industry with more than 750 companies and a trained workforce of more than 70,000 people.”

Nineteen major expansions, relocations or new facilities representing almost $4 billion in investment and more than 4,000 jobs were announced across the state, according to reports compiled by the North Carolina Biotechnology Center.

Leading the way was FUJIFILM’s blockbuster announcement of a $2 billion biopharmaceutical manufacturing plant in Holly Springs that will bring 725 jobs paying an average salary of just under $100,000 a year.

Meanwhile growth has surged in 2022 before Friday’s news, including new research and development projects for life science parks in Morrisville (The Spark) and Holly Springs (The Yield).

A recent report from commercial real estate services firm CBRE also points out the Triangle is experiencing high demand for life science space with cell gene therapy companies active and expanding in the market.

New $1B life science campus coming to Morrisville: The Spark

Another win for Cabarrus County

It’s the latest project for North Carolina, following the announcement of a $500 million investment at a Piedmont Triad Airport site by Boom Supersonic earlier this week that could add 2,400 jobs to the Triad at the facility.

The firm joins three other major economic development announcements from Cabarrus County, as Kroger will construct a fulfillment center that will employ almost 700 people, Red Bull is investing some $740 million and creating more than 400 jobs in the county, and Ball Metal Beverage Container will add more than 200 jobs following an investment of $384 million in a new facility.

Earlier this month, GENIXUS announced it had closed on $20 million in new funding and had plans to hire staff at the company’s facility in the David H. Murdock Research Institute in Kannapolis.  Duke Energy also recently opened a solar power plant in the county.

“These things do not happen overnight, and they do not happen because of one person, and it’s an honor to be a part of an incredible team,” said Page Castrodale, Executive Director at Cabarrus Economic Development, during the press event.  “Thank you for being here, thank you for your investment in our community, and welcome to Concord,” said Castrodale, addressing Eli Lilly executives, in closing the press event.


Report: Demand for life science lab space in Triangle surges as more projects pour in

Biotech’s big year in NC: Nearly $4B in investment, more than 4,800 jobs in 2021