Wolfspeed should have impact in Randolph County

SILER CITY — Randolph County officials had roles in helping secure a major industrial project for nearby Siler City.

Certainly, the impact will be felt in neighboring counties when Wolfspeed, Inc. cranks up operations in 2023 in Chatham County.

The 1,800 new jobs should be created by 2030. Wolfspeed will construct a manufacturing campus for the production of Silicon Carbide materials.

The governor’s office reported that an investment of approximately $5 billion across the next eight years will be made in the Town of Siler City.

Founded and headquartered in Durham, Wolfspeed is described as a global leader in the production of Silicon Carbide materials and devices which support sustainability through a more efficient use of energy than traditional semiconductor technology. This technology is used in a variety of applications, including electric vehicles, 5G networks, and renewable energy and storage. 

The company’s expansion at the Chatham-Siler City Advanced Manufacturing Site will produce the Silicon Carbide materials to make semiconductor chips and devices that more efficiently power electric vehicle inverters and charging systems.

As the details of the project were worked out, those involved partnerships that included Chatham County, the Town of Siler City, the City of Asheboro, the Town of Ramseur, the Town of Franklinville, the Chatham County Economic Development Corporation, and the Randolph County Economic Development Corporation.

Mike Fox, president and CEO of the Piedmont Triad Partnership, said the Wolfspeed announcement “is further evidence that the Carolina Core is the next engine of transformational growth for North Carolina.”

Fox said this ties to his group’s overall mission for the Carolina Core, which is a non-bordered territory that stretches from Winston-Salem to Fayetteville. In his view, this marked “another big win” for the regional collaboration.

Gregg Lowe, who’s president and CEO of Wolfspeed, said the company’s relationship with North Carolina A&T to assist in developing a workforce is crucial to the project.

The project could mean a total payroll of $140 million annually for the region. Average wages could reach $77,750 per year.

The Wolfspeed project comes with a Job Development Investment Grant approved by the state’s Economic Investment Committee. According to the governor’s office, the state approved additional support to help with final site preparations at the Chatham-Siler City Advanced Manufacturing Site as part of the recently passed state budget (North Carolina House Bill 103). Included in that support was a $57.5 million appropriation to the Department of Commerce to be used for site preparation.

“North Carolina is a world leader in manufacturing, and Wolfspeed’s expansion confirms that,” Senate President Pro Tempore Phil Berger said in a release. “That wouldn’t be possible without the General Assembly’s long-term commitment to developing a strong, well-educated workforce, reining in burdensome regulations, and lowering taxes.”  

By Bob Sutton