Syngenta to expand RTP operations and create 150 new jobs

lfinaldi@newsobserver.comJuly 30, 2013 

Agribusiness giant Syngenta announced Tuesday that it will expand its Research Triangle Park presence and create 150 new research and development jobs in the park by 2018.

The Basel, Switzerland-based company, which currently employs 1,130 in North Carolina, will invest $94 million to expand its Syngenta Innovation Center, adding 200,000 square feet in laboratory and office space.

The project will expand its crop protection and seed development operations, allowing it to deliver healthier and more abundant plant varieties.

“This is an extraordinary time of growth for agriculture in North Carolina,” Michiel van Lookeren Campagne, president of Syngenta Biotechnology, said in a statement. “We are proud to be a part of the region’s growing agricultural technology cluster.”

The new jobs will pay an average annual salary of $81,624 plus benefits, above the Wake County average of $66,602, according to Gov. Pat McCrory’s office.

State officials on Tuesday awarded Syngenta a state incentives package worth up to $2.98 million over 12 years if the company meets job-creation and investment goals.

The company also considered sites in Iowa and Minnesota. Syngenta picked North Carolina because of its business environment, low cost of living and large pool of available talent, said Steven Goldsmith, a company spokesman.

“The ability for us to get started quickly and the incentive package is all why we’re continuing to grow here,” he said.

Research at the new facility will focus on environmental stresses and how a plant uses nutrients more efficiently, as well innovations in corn, soybean, cereal, rice, vegetable and sugar cane research. In recent years, the company’s RTP operations have helped launch a new breed of corn that resists the destructive corn rootworm beetle and another designed to withstand drought. “We’ll be looking at all the challenges farmers face, what are the things consumers are interested in, and continue to try to explore,” Goldsmith said.

Syngenta already employs about 400 people at its 50-acre campus in RTP, which is the global headquarters for its biotechnology research. It also has operations in Greensboro.

In May, Syngenta opened a 136,000-square-foot, $72 million greenhouse on its RTP campus that can simulate the growing conditions of any climate in the world.

Construction on the new RTP facility will begin later this year. It is expected to be completed by 2016.

Syngenta, which has more than 27,000 employees in 90 countries, is the world’s No. 3 purveyor of seeds, behind Monsanto and DuPont. It’s also a leader in crop-protection products such as insecticides and herbicides.

The company, along with Bayer CropScience, BASF and Monsanto, is part of a cluster of large agribusinesses that have significant operations in the Triangle.

Finaldi: 919-829-4582 or twitter.com/lauraefinaldi

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