Proposed Syngenta development could mean 100 new jobs for RTP

County to consider project incentives Monday
Jun. 19, 2013 @ 12:10 PM

Syngenta could be in line for up to $375,000 in county incentives for a proposed expansion in the Research Triangle Park that could mean an additional 100 jobs and new construction.

Syngenta, a Switzerland-based crop protection company, has its global headquarters for plant biotechnology in the park. Employees here work to develop genetic traits for crops to help farmers fight drought or protect against insects.

The Durham County Board of Commissioners will hold a public hearing Monday to consider whether to offer the company an incentive for a proposed second new phase of development in the park.

The proposed incentive is for at least $275,000 that would be paid over a six-year period after construction of the project is complete, said Commissioner Ellen Reckhow. The proposal is tied to a commitment of 100 jobs from the company, she said.

In addition, Reckhow said the package would also include the possibility of an additional $100,000 for the company that would be awarded depending on how many of the 100 hires are Durham County residents.

If approved by the board following Monday’s hearing, the incentive would be the second approved by the county for Syngenta in recent years.

Commissioners approved in May 2011 an incentive of $225,000 for a $72 million project that included the construction of a greenhouse and lab facility. The company expected to employ about 15 at the new facility.

In May of this year, the company showed off the finished new building at an event that drew Gov. Pat McCrory as well as local elected officials, media and others.

The company has already filed plans with Durham City-County Planning for the second phase of development on the same Davis Drive site.

The plans show a multi-story building with office and research space that would cover 65,702 square feet of ground space, but would have 197,439 square feet of space across several stories.

Steven Goldsmith, a spokesman for Syngenta, said in an email that the company is considering an expansion of its RTP campus, but he said Syngenta is a global company that’s “always considering sites around the world for investment to serve our global customers.”

“It would be inappropriate to share any other information about plans at this time, as no decisions have been made,” he said in the email.

Syngenta is the latest agricultural biotechnology company to plan or announce new facilities in the park. Bayer CropScience and Monsanto also have operations here. The German chemical company BASF moved its plant science division to the park, where it’s working on developing genetic traits.

“I think it’s very exciting that we are developing a strong cluster of high-tech agricultural companies they appear to be gravitating her,  perhaps to be in particular in proximity to N.C. State University, but also to be in this particular area because of biotech generally,” Reckhow said.

Goldsmith said it’s an “exciting time” for agriculture in the state and especially in the RTP. He said we’re at the “dawn of the next generation” of agricultural technology discoveries and many innovations are coming from the park.

“Syngenta, and lots of other companies, know that this region is the center for global agricultural development, and you need to have presence here if you’re going to complete,” he said.

The company employs about 400 people in the park. In addition to the laboratory and greenhouse facility on Davis Drive, the company has employees in buildings on Cornwallis Road and in the Keystone Technology Park.