Advance Auto Parts to create 600 jobs in Raleigh dbracken@newsobserver.comJune 18, 2014 

— After ending up on the short end of several corporate acquisitions in recent years, Raleigh has finally found itself as a major beneficiary of a blockbuster deal.

Advance Auto Parts, which in January acquired Raleigh-based General Parts International for $2.04 billion, announced Wednesday that it plans to open a corporate center in the city and create 600 jobs by the end of 2017.

The deal will add hundreds of high-paying jobs to a city that lost two corporate headquarters in recent years when Charlotte-based Duke Energy acquired Progress Energy and Pittsburgh-based PNC Financial Services bought RBC Bank.

“Certainly it’s a nice addition of jobs, and a higher concentration in a merger environment where sometimes we’ve gotten the short stick,” said Harvey Schmitt, president of the Greater Raleigh Chamber of Commerce. “Our market has a quality that is attractive to recruiting talent, whether it’s high-tech or otherwise.”

Advance Auto is keeping its headquarters and a second corporate center in Roanoke, Va., though the company’s chief executive officer, president and chief financial officer are all relocating to Raleigh. The Roanoke center will focus on day-to-day operations, while the Raleigh site will support customers.

The company was awarded a state incentives package worth more than $17.4 million if it meets hiring and investment milestones. Advance Auto chose Raleigh over sites in Virginia, state Commerce Department officials said.

North Carolina’s tax incentives were key in the company’s decision to establish a corporate presence here, said Shelly Whitaker, a spokeswoman for Advance Auto.

The company sells auto parts that aren’t manufactured by automakers. It became the largest such company when it acquired General Parts. It has annual sales of more than $9.3 billion and 74,000 employees.

General Parts was founded in downtown Raleigh a half-century ago and later developed a national chain of Carquest auto parts stores. Today, Advance Auto operates 5,276 of its namesake stores, as well as 105 Worldpac branches and serves 1,400 Carquest stores. The company has 256 stores in North Carolina, where it employs 3,823 people.

General Parts had about 500 employees in Raleigh when it was acquired. Advance Auto is moving into General Parts’ offices on East Millbrook Road in North Raleigh.

Advance Auto said it would begin hiring immediately. The average annual wage for the new jobs will be $110,770, more than double the Wake County average. The positions will be in the areas of merchandising, marketing, supply chain and commercial sales.

Wednesday’s announcement is the latest sign that the Triangle’s economy is picking up steam. The region’s unemployment rate has fallen 2.1 percentage points over the past year and at 5.1 percent is now at its lowest point since August 2008.

At a time when many areas of the state and the country are struggling to produce high-paying jobs, the Triangle has landed several notable projects. The largest since the downturn remains MetLife, which is building a global technology and operations hub in Cary that will employ about 1,200 people.

Earlier this month Cisco Systems said it would expand its Research Triangle Park campus by adding 550 jobs here over the next four years. Those jobs will pay an average annual wage of $72,700 plus benefits.

“On the heels of the Cisco announcement ... this is proving to be a good year,” Schmitt said.

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