RALEIGH – Gov. Roy Cooper is making an economic development announcement today shortly after the state’s Economic Investment Committee meets at 1 p.m.  And two sources tell WRAL News that the event is to disclose the selection of Chatham County as the site for a new auto production and battery facility that could employ some 13,000 people.

The Governors office picked a big venue for the event: The Raleigh Convention Center.

WRAL Capitol Bureau Chief Laura Leslie says the two sources—one being an elected official invited to attend the event—told her the news is about VinFast, a Vietnam-based auto manufacturer that has aggressive plans for entering the U.S. market as a builder of electric vehicles.

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The company also said it has plans for a U.S. site to build electric buses and batteries.

The N.C.  site would be at Triangle Innovation Point, which recently was rejected as a location for a semiconductor plant by one company.  Sources told WRAL TechWire earlier this year that between 15 and 20 companies were in active consideration of the site for projects.

There are two “specially called” meetings of the Economic Investment Committee that occur this week, one on Tuesday afternoon and another on Thursday afternoon.  According to the event details listed online, the agenda for each meeting notes “one or more economic development proposals will be considered.”

North Carolina has tried and failed for years to attract an automaker. However, that may be changing.

A gamechanger for NC

North Carolina State University economist Dr. Mike Walden told WRAL TechWire that VinFast coming to the region would be a “gamechanger.”

“Of course, we’re going to have probably another 10,000 [jobs] created simply due to downstream effects,” Walden said. “I estimate that might pump a billion dollars a year into the local economy.”

Walden the state’s investment in mega-sites may be helping. Toyota’s new EV battery factory in Randolph County may have also helped, and it could have a snowball effect. He said electric vehicle technology could become the state’s next biotech.

“Oftentimes, like businesses like to be in the same general area because they can all take advantage of the labor force that’s maybe being trained with the skills they want, common things that they buy that they can apply, they can actually attract suppliers,” Walden said.

North Carolina recently was selected for a battery plant to be built by Toyota.

“You can’t understate how important it is to have a company such as Toyota, with Toyota’s stature, make this sort of selection,” said Chris Chung, CEO of EDPNC in a December 2021 interview with WRAL TechWire after Toyota made its announcement.  “It establishes North Carolina as a hub for a sector that we know is going to be growing in importance for the American economy in the decades ahead.”

The North Carolina Department of Commerce did not respond to a request for comment from WRAL TechWire for this story.