@NCCapitol

@NCCapitol

Tech firm Infosys bringing 2,000 jobs to Wake County

Posted July 6, 2017 9:38 a.m. EDT
Updated July 13, 2018 1:46 p.m. EDT

— A technology firm based in India plans to bring 2,000 jobs to Wake County with an average starting salary above $72,000, state officials announced Thursday morning, in a deal that includes some $25 million in state grants and other supports.

Infosys will be looking to hire local software developers, analysts, architects and other technology professionals for its outsourcing services. The company says it plans to add as many as 10,000 U.S. jobs in the coming years, with four hubs around the country.

To get its full incentives package in North Carolina, Infosys won't have to hit 100 percent of its targets, but close. It must create and retain 1,600 new jobs in Wake County with a minimum average salary of about $65,000, according to the details of the deal.

The average salary now across Wake County is about $54,000, according to state officials.

The company already has a presence in North Carolina, and the new jobs must be in addition to the 1,138 here now, a Commerce Department spokeswoman said Thursday. The company says it has some 200,000 employees worldwide. It focuses on technology and outsourcing, among other things.

In 2013, the company settled a lawsuit with the U.S. Department of Justice over its usage of work visas, agreeing to pay $34 million. At the time, the Justice Department said it was the largest payment ever levied in an immigration case. Infosys was accused of circumventing H-1B visa regulations to bring in workers to perform skilled labor in order to cut costs. Those jobs otherwise would have gone to American citizens or legitimate H-1B visa holders, the department said in a news release at the time.

During Thursday's press conference, Infosys President Ravi Kumar said the company already has a number of clients in the Triangle, and that executives also were attracted by the universities in the ares, whose graduates could help fill some of the new jobs, as well as the region's entrepreneurial culture.

"I'm actually told that Wake County has 500-plus startups. That was a huge, attractive value-added proposition for us to locate ourselves in Wake County," Kumar said at a news conference. "We do think we could invest, incubate and drive those startups to be a part of our ecosystem."

The incentives break down like this: Nearly $22.4 million over 12 years from the state's Job Development Investment Grant program, which is used to lure major employers into the state. The state's community college system will commit another $3 million to the project. Wake County and other local governments could sweeten the pot further.

"I think that you’ll see some people be able to get into some second careers here," Gov. Roy Cooper said.

Even though Wake County has a 3.7 percent unemployment rate and some rural counties have double-digit jobless rates, Cooper said the state is willing to spend money to attract jobs to North Carolina, regardless of where they are created.

"What we want are better-paying jobs," he said. "If they can quit their $35,000 a year job, get training, get a $65,000 a year job, that’s the kind of thing we want for North Carolina."

Still, the governor said, recruiters are working on projects that will benefit rural counties as well.

"We’ve got to emphasize investment in education so that we can make sure that these companies have the workforce," he said. "That’s the No. 1 thing that they talk to us about is the workforce – and one of the challenges for our rural areas."

Infosys plans to spend $8.7 million on capital investments by the end of 2018 under this deal, with a minimum requirement of about $7.9 million to get its full incentives. The state estimates this project will produce more than $24 million in state revenue between its start date and 2029 and increase North Carolina's gross domestic product by $2.9 billion by then statewide.

The $22.4 million incentive grant is the seventh-largest JDIG award announced since 2003, according to the most recent state Commerce Department data. The state announced larger grants for other large companies like Fidelity and Electrolux in the Triangle and Mecklenburg County, respectively, where unemployment has been lowest. Economic development officials approved the state’s largest grant – $87.2 million – for MetLife in early 2013 after the company pledged to add 2,600 jobs in Wake and Mecklenburg counties.