WILMINGTON – Nearly 500 new workers are expected to be hired to join GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy in New Hanover County as the company plans to invest at least $85 million to build a new facility at the site of its existing plant in Wilmington.

The company announced it would construct what it calls the Natrium™ Fuel Facility, which “will be jointly funded by TerraPower and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) through the Advanced Reactor Demonstration Program,” according to a statement.

It could be an investment of more than $200 million.  But under an economic incentives agreement, the company will invest at least $85 million, and will create 485 new positions.  The company is a joint venture with its headquarters based in Wilmington, and had announced a major investment and expansion in the region in 2008.

“Carbon-free nuclear power has an essential role to play in the energy transition and we are excited to lead our industry into the future,” said Jay Wileman, president and CEO, GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy.  “These new jobs and this investment in our business strongly position us to help customers meet climate goals and will also have a significant impact on the region’s economy.”

GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy reactor

A rendering of the BWRX-300 small modular reactor, courtesy of GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy.

A statement published by GE noted that the additional employees “will support the future of advanced nuclear growth including the commercial deployment of the BWRX-300 small modular reactor.”

Data from the World Nuclear Association indicates that the United States produced about 29% of the world’s nuclear energy in 2022, and nuclear energy accounted for 19.6% of the nation’s electricity production.

Report: Wilmington region could land 4 deals that bring 1000+ jobs to the county

High-paying jobs

According to a statement, the investment will result in a payroll impact of more than $63.5 million in the region.  The City of Wilmington and New Hanover County are both providing a performance-based economic incentives package that will be deployed over five years, totaling about $1.5 million in value.

The City of Wilmington discussed an economic development project that was known as “Project Clear” in February that would provide an incentives package of $250,000 to an unnamed company that was “contingent upon the Company investing at least $85 million in real and personal property in the region, and hiring 485 or more new full-time equivalents at an average salary of at least $131,000,” according to city documents.

“Greater Wilmington is a global business destination with companies leading the world in their respective industries,” said Scott Satterfield, the CEO of Wilmington Business Development in a statement. “Our region’s decades-long track record with industrial legends like GE and, more recently, its joint venture partner Hitachi, offers compelling evidence of the high quality of service world-leading companies have come to expect here — including ready talent, advanced infrastructure and local government leaders adept at understanding the needs of our corporate residents.”

The company is currently hiring for 80 positions, according to its careers webpage.  And Wileman said in a statement that the company has already hired 250 workers this year “to be part of the team that is advancing the deployment of our carbon-free energy generation technologies.”

According to GE, it began commercializing nuclear reactors in 1955. And the Wilmington site has been manufacturing fuel for nuclear power plants has been manufactured since 1969, the company noted in a statement.

GE Nuclear could announce major expansion in Wilmington