RALEIGH, N.C. — Microsoft stands to collect more than $1.4 million from Wake County if the tech giant delivers on its plans to hire 500 new software developers at a new Morrisville facility over the next several years.
Wake County commissioners unanimously approved the incentive deal at their meeting Monday night, contingent on the company’s planned $50 million investment. The jobs at the new location for software engineering and development, which the company first announced on Dec. 17, will pay $125,000 – twice the county’s average salary.
The county’s incentive package essentially refunds the company half of the Wake County taxes on its new investments. To start receiving payments, however, the company has to hits its investment targets and hire at least 250 people. The first payments aren’t projected to go out until after 2022.
Microsoft already secured a Job Development Investment Grant from the state worth $12 million if job targets are met, along with additional incentives from the town of Morrisville and the state community college system.
All told, North Carolina’s offer from state and local sources totaled about $14.9 million. That’s compared to a competing offer from Houston of about $1.3 million.
Wake County Commissioner Matt Calabria said Tuesday factors like access to talent, quality of life and the public education system are the main reasons companies like Microsoft choose the county over other locations. But he said the county’s incentives are designed to keep them competitive.
“What we hear from our economic developers is that economic incentives are not the only thing, not the biggest thing,” Calabria said. “But they are a component of what companies look at.”
Microsoft currently employs about 1,400 people in Mecklenburg County and about 550 in Wake County.
Microsoft announced a separate hiring spree in Charlotte in October, securing an $8 million JDIG award if it creates a projected 430 jobs there.
Wake and Mecklenburg alone – among North Carolina’s 100 counties – have claimed about 60 percent of the funds pledged to companies through JDIG and the One North Carolina Fund, the state’s largest incentive programs. That’s more than $750 million from January 2009 through June 2019, a new WRAL News analysis shows.
That’s drawn criticism from those who note the programs were designed to boost economic growth in less wealthy counties.
But not all of the money committed gets paid out.
WRAL News found companies awarded JDIG and One North Carolina grants from 2009 to 2016 have so far reported hiring just over half the jobs announced under the two programs. But the state has also paid out far less to the companies than it expected – just under 20 percent of the almost $1 billion committed.