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On eve of Japanese prime minister's visit to North Carolina, Fujifilm announces more jobs there

RALEIGH, N.C. — Hours before the Japanese prime minister’s arrival in North Carolina, a subsidiary of Japan’s Fujifilm Corp. announced Thursday plans to expand further a massive biopharmaceutical manufacturing plant in the state, even as the initial phase is not yet complete, promising another 680 jobs.

Gov. Roy Cooper joined a company executive and local government leaders in unveiling an additional $1.2 billion investment in Holly Springs, where Fujifilm Diosynth Biotechnologies is currently building what is billed as one of the world’s largest cell culture facilities. The new jobs are on top of the 725 announced by the subsidiary when the initial $2 billion investment was announced in March 2021.

The first phase of the plant is expected to open next year, with the expansion coming online early in 2028, Lars Petersen, the subsidiary’s president and CEO, told reporters. The batch of jobs announced Thursday will be created starting in 2027 and pay an average minimum wage of nearly $110,000, according to state officials.

Fujifilm Diosynth Biotechnologies, which manufactures drugs and vaccines for other pharmaceutical companies, already has a campus in nearby Research Triangle Park where it employs several hundred people.

Cooper said the expansion is the result of the state’s commitment to become the nation’s leader in life sciences, which he says statewide includes over 800 companies employing over 75,000 skilled workers.

“It’s pretty clear that North Carolina has become an advanced manufacturing powerhouse,” Cooper said at the announcement in downtown Raleigh, less than 20 miles (32 kilometers) northeast of Holly Springs.

The news conference also celebrated another capital injection by a Japanese corporate giant into North Carolina as Prime Minister Fumio Kishida prepared to arrive in the state late Thursday.

Kishida’s schedule on Friday includes visiting the Greensboro headquarters of Honda Aircraft Corp. and where Toyota Motor Corp. is building its first North American electric and hybrid battery plant in Randolph County. Kishida’s U.S. visit already has included addressing a joint session of Congress and attending a White House state dinner.

“This is a state where our ties with Japan are growing, and we want to celebrate the economic, academic and cultural ties,” said Cooper, who will also host a luncheon for the prime minister on Friday at the governor’s mansion.

Fujifilm considered making what became Thursday’s investment in Singapore, as well as near its existing facilities in Denmark and in Ventura County, California, according to a state Commerce Department document.

State officials said the company could receive potentially more than $72 million in state and local incentives. A state committee earlier Thursday agreed to award nearly $15 million of those incentives through cash payments over 12 years if the company meets job retention and investment thresholds. The company also received an incentive package in 2021.

The new investment in Holly Springs, which will include additional bioreactors, will meet the growing demand for biological medicines, benefitting oncology, immunology and pandemic preparedness, Petersen said. Fujifilm Diosynth Biotechnologies worked with Novavax to produce a COVID-19 vaccine.

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