RALEIGH — Wake County commissioners approved economic incentives worth as much as $675,000 for Red Hat on Monday, but made it clear the open-source software giant wasn't getting any kind of special deal.
Board chairman Paul Coble, and others in the seven-member board's Republican majority, emphasized that incentives are written into county policy and are available to any company that adds 50 jobs and boosts the county tax base through buildings or improvements.
Members said it wasn't a matter of picking "winners and losers," as Republicans have charged nationally about the half-billion dollars in loan guarantees a California energy company got from the Obama administration as it tried to boost the "green economy."
"Unlike so many incentive deals we see around the country, this one makes great sense," said Coble, who is running for a U.S. House seat next year.
Red Hat planned to build a $100 million headquarters somewhere in Wake County and relocate the 600 employees at its current headquarters on N.C. State's Centennial Campus. Instead, executives decided to pour an estimated $30 million into renovating and re-equipping one of the downtown Raleigh buildings that Progress Energy is leaving as a result of its pending merger with Duke Energy.
Red Hat will move into Two Progress Plaza at Davie and Wilmington streets.
State officials have already promised Red Hat incentives worth $15 million if it meets hiring and investment goals. Additional agreements are in the works with the city of Raleigh.
The eventual number of new employees could reach 500, in addition to keeping 600 existing jobs, said Anthony Copeland, legal counsel to Red Hat.