Local Politics

Biden: Durham LED maker shows stimulus' success

Posted March 18, 2010

— Vice President Joe Biden touted Durham-based Cree Inc. Thursday as an example of the Obama administration's efforts to expand clean-energy manufacturing jobs that pay middle-class salaries.

Biden talks at Durham LED maker_02 Biden talks at Durham LED maker

Biden and Secretary of Energy Steven Chu drew applause when they said they don't want more jobs to be exported, and they praised Cree (Nasdaq: CREE) for manufacturing light-emitting diodes in America.

"Cree is an American success story," Chu said. "I believe that making stuff is still part of making wealth."

"You all are doing what we only hoped for," Biden said. "The truth is we can't have a strong middle class without strong manufacturing."

Biden talked about how receiving $39 million in tax credits from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act in January allowed Cree to purchase new equipment and expand its work force. Cree has hired about 375 engineers, office staffers and production workers since last summer as demand took off. The company has about 1,500 workers in Durham, out of a worldwide staff of 3,200.

Biden visiting Durham LED-maker Biden praises Durham LED maker

The stimulus package also created demand for Cree's LEDs, as cities got federal funding to install the lights.

When Barack Obama was inaugurated as president, Cree stock sold at $18.76 a share, then rose to $19.99 when he signed the stimulus bill. It has since soared to about $71.

Cree received at least $8.5 million in federal research funds in the past decade as government optimism about energy-efficient lighting started building early in President George W. Bush's administration.

Biden pushed for Congress to put $5 billion toward expanding the recent tax credit from which Cree benefited.

"Cree did this," Biden said. "Through the Recovery Act, we're encouraging companies like Cree to keep investing in clean energy."

Cree's high-efficiency LEDs are a "more environmentally efficient way to light our world," he said. LEDs use a fraction of the power of fluorescent tubes, don’t contain mercury like twisty compact fluorescent lights and don’t produce the heat that speeds spoilage in meat or produce grocery displays.

America needs to create a more stable, environmentally friendly economy, and companies such as Cree are leading the way, Biden said

"The world's moving into the 21st century in a more carbon-free economy. We are either going to be dragged there, or we are going to lead the way there," the vice president said. "With companies like Cree, we're going to lead the world."

Lt. Gov. Walter Dalton said that North Carolina is already leading the way with incentives and cash grants to green companies.

"It's already part of our economy, but can we do more? Do we need to do more? Yes, we can," Dalton said.

Biden's visit is proof that the state is headed in the right direction, Cree CEO Chuck Swoboda said.

"It shows that North Carolina is part of this really new innovation economy," he said.


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  • rchaloupecky Mar 19, 2010

    Most of Cree's products are made in China. The Durham facility makes the majority of the wafers but the LED "lamps" are handed off to China once the pilot manufacturing process is worked out.

  • readme Mar 18, 2010

    Memo to the VP: you are not that important, and you are totally replaceable. So stop shutting down multiple interstates in rush hour traffic for your motorcade. And stop telling the jets they can't land for a 30-minute window while you get ready to take off. I was stuck circling for 20 minutes because of you, and I HATE flying. If flying is so safe, I don't see why you can takeoff and land with other plane activity like the rest of us. Don't come back.

  • f6rider Mar 18, 2010

    I think he had a late lunch at Bullock's BBQ in Durham this afternoon around 4:00PM. The wife drove past the area and saw about 15 motorcycles and multiple police cars and a couple of black lemos outside.

    That would make sense, he was in there before they would normally open at 5:00 I guess I'll look for his picture hanging up on the wall in there with all the others celebrities next time I'm there, probably need to look in the wall area near the bathrooms :)

  • meeper Mar 18, 2010

    Biden should save his lies for Sunday, when he and Comrade Obama attempt to take over the healthcare system

  • prn13norm Mar 18, 2010

    It is truly amazing that technology has given us a tiny LED light that out shine the dimwits in the Whitehouse.

  • Leftwing Mar 18, 2010

    So glad he came. Roads bloked, highways closed so he can fly in and out of RDU. Spare no expense for his safety while tying up the roadways all around the airport. Must be nice to be able to have taxpayers pay for this level of service. Gimme back my Republicans. A real Democrat would have said let me take a a RDU taxi, we can spend the money saved to pay for health insurance for the poor people who don't speak English.

  • rand321 Mar 18, 2010

    One Cree and their founders have invested millions into RDU charities and other business ventures, creating more jobs that just on the campus. They have been a tremendous asset to RDU.

    As for LED bulbs costing more, this is true. however I recently saw packs at a local wholesale club where the bulks were 4 to 7 each, not bad comparing to specialty styled bulbs or even the CF ones just a few years ago. Also, they should last longer than several incandescent bulbs or CF bulbs further reducing theri lifetime costs. Their cost will continue to drop.

  • geosol Mar 18, 2010

    What a shame we can't relive the glory years of the Bush admin. when Republicans had the majority in Congress, too!! Those were the days; starting a war based on a lie and no plans to pay for it, turning a surplus into the biggest deficit in history, using an arcane procedure to pass a bill giving billions to the drug industry, multi-billion dollar tax breaks to oil companies while they were making world record profits and oil prices were at all-time highs, giving the banking and financial industries carte blanche to loose trillions of investors' dollars and not even batting an eye. Oh yes, those were the days. Thank the Lord the adults are in charge now.

  • tsquaring Mar 18, 2010

    Seems like corporate welfare is alive and well!

  • 5Rs Mar 18, 2010

    "C02 is a pollutant when you are unable to remove all of it" - cantstand-

    You are right. Please stop polluting our planet. While you are at it, stop exhaling H2O also, another pollutant. Thanks for your help.