Durham County OKs a $1.2 million lure

Staff WriterOctober 13, 2009 

Durham County commissioners unanimously approved a $1.2 million incentive in hope of attracting a $280 million research and data center and about 280 new jobs.

EMC Corp., which develops information-storage technology, is considering sites in New York, Washington and Virginia as well as Durham. The company has indicated thatlocal-government incentives are "a key consideration" in where it builds, said Deputy County Manager CarolynTitus.

The City of Durham is considering a $1 million incentive, as well. EMC has had a branch at Research Triangle Park since the 1990s

"We're talking about a company that is not fly-by-night," said Keith Burns, chairman of the Greater Durham Chamber of Commerce.

Burns and chamber Vice President Ted Conner spoke in favor of the incentive. Bethesda Elementary School Principal Doris Walker and YMCA executive Joseph Featherstone praised EMC for the aid it has given their institutions.

Resident Victoria Peterson, though, asked the commissioners to "please put a hold" on the incentive until they have assurance the new jobs would go to Durham residents. "We need to make sure these companies are hiring our citizens."

Titus said the county requires that companies approved for incentives fulfill job-creation and investment goals before money is paid, responding to a concern about the Dell computer company's recent decision to close.

Most of the new EMC jobs would be computer-related, and carry an average annual salary between $60,000 and $70,000, she said.

About 21 percent of EMC's current RTP employees live in Durham County, Conner said.

"I would hope that the company would open their doors wider to our citizens," Commissioner Joe Bowser said.

jim.wise@newsobserver.com or 919-932-2004

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