State News

PepsiCo joins lineup at N.C. Research Campus

Posted October 20, 2008 3:47 p.m. EDT
Updated October 21, 2008 6:49 a.m. EDT

— PepsiCo Inc. will open a biology and nutrition research lab at the site of a former North Carolina textile mill that is now a research park, officials said Monday.

Billionaire David Murdock, who owns the site – now called the North Carolina Research Campus – and Dole Foods, announced the PepsiCo commitment during a dedication of the first of three primary buildings at the Kannapolis facility.

The beverage maker will build a 4,000-square-foot lab on the campus, said PepsiCo's chief scientific officer, Mehmood Khan. PepsiCo, based in Purchase, N.Y., owns such brands as Frito Lay, Quaker Oats and Pepsi beverages.

Developers expect the campus will grow into a $1.5 billion biotech center and create approximately 30,000 jobs over the next 15 years.

Sixteen other businesses, eight North Carolina universities – including Duke University, North Carolina Central University, North Carolina State University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill – and the state's community college system also have committed to open facilities at the campus.

"There's going to be cutting-edge research done at this facility," UNC system President Erskine Bowles said.

Monday's ceremony was for the 311,000-square-foot Core Lab, which offers $100 million worth of specialty equipment and lab space for rent to tenants of the 350-acre campus.

"People from around the world will benefit from the work we are performing here in Kannapolis," Murdock told the 600 people attending the dedication.

Murdock announced the idea for the campus three years ago after the area was dealing with the 2003 closure of the Pillowtex mill complex that put nearly 5,000 people out of work.

Murdock said he has spent some $400 million on developing the campus so far.