Electronics company announces 400 new jobs at Mebane facility

Mebane Mayor Glendel Stephenson (left) presents Franklin Sullivan, an Executive Vice President with ABB Incorporated, a Mebane flag during a ceremony in Raleigh on Wednesday. ABB announced a 200,000 square foot expansion of its current Mebane facility in western Orange County, totaling approximately $40 million in new investments. ABB received approximately $4.3 million in economic incentives from the state of North Carolina for the project, which is expected to bring an additional 400 jobs to Mebane. Orange County Commissioner Renee Price (right) looks on.

On Wednesday afternoon in downtown Raleigh, North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper, alongside multiple City of Mebane and Orange County officials, announced a $40 million expansion of ABB Incorporated’s business operations in Mebane. ABB announced plans to expand by 200,000 square foot its facility in the City’s corporate limits in western Orange County, while adding approximately 400 jobs to its local workforce. The expansion will increase the facility to approximately 600,000 square feet. 

“When we go out and talk to business leaders and recruit companies to our state, the number one question is do you have the people? Do you have the skilled workers to fill these jobs that my company will create for you?” Governor Cooper stated in a Wednesday press conference. “Because of decades and decades of investment in education, our great community college system and university system, North Carolina has done well answering that question. But our workforce is not something that our state can take for granted. We don’t take it for granted. We are going to make sure that 2 million more North Carolinians will have post-secondary degrees or credentials that will be needed in the next decade.” 

According to the Governor, ABB’s new project in Mebane will mean about $1 billion in increased revenues over the next 12 years. The state of North Carolina is providing ABB approximately $4.3 million in economic incentives as part of the company’s $40 investment in the local site. 

“This expansion would not have happened without the hard work of local leaders in Orange County and Mebane. We know your staff has worked so hard to make this day happen,” the Governor stated. 

ABB Executive Vice President Franklin Sullivan, the company’s Lead Division Manager for Electronics in the United States, was onhand for the Governor’s announcement. Cooper gave Sullivan a piece of china with North Carolina’s state seal and state motto on it. 

“We want you to know that we are what we say we are. We’re going to do what we say we’re going to do,” Cooper said to Sullivan. “We know that this company will do the same thing. We congratulate you and thank you for expanding your footprint in North Carolina, and bringing so many jobs to hard-working families in this state.” 

“It’s a great day in North Carolina,” Sullivan said. “I want to thank Governor Cooper, the North Carolina Department of Commerce, the Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina, the community college system, which is critical to supply the employees we need, Orange County, the City of Mebane, and the Orange County economic development agency.” 

Mebane Mayor Glendel Stephenson provided some historical context on the property at 6801 Industrial Drive, which will be the locale of ABB’s new expansion. 

“About 40 or so years ago, Long Island Steel and Tube came to Mebane. They built the plant on which we’re now speaking,” Stephenson said. “Within a few years, the ownership passed to General Electric. They operated for more than 35 years - mostly good years, some declining years. I’ve often observed that everything has a life. And unless there is significant changes, renovations in the operations of a business, small or large, rarely does any business operate more than 25 years.” 

“We’re now seeing that this plant is going to have a new life,” Stephenson continued. “Major changes. New renovations. New people. New purposes for being. New employees and new products. And hopefully a new life for this plant. But once again, we’re going to see the results of good old American enterprise. House sales. Auto sales. Children with opportunities to go to college. Elevated standards of living. And all because of ABB, and the financial support they will provide for their employees. This is good news for Orange County, North Carolina, and the City of Mebane. We wish them well. ABB, welcome to Mebane.”

Headquartered in Zurich, Switzerland, ABB has been in business for over 130 years. ABB does business as a leader in digital industries in five business lines - electrification, industrial automation, motion, robotics and discrete automation, and power grids. All of these business lines are on a common ABB digital platform. 

“We’re a leader in digital industries around the world. Very customer focused, which is key to our success,” Sullivan explained. 

A decade ago, ABB chose to relocate its United States headquarters from Norwalk, Connecticut to North Carolina. The company sites the state’s community college and university systems, along with the proximity to a huge customer base, as its primary reasons for coming to North Carolina. 

“After this (expansion), we will have over 3,000 employees in the state of North Carolina,” Sullivan said, drawing loud applause from those in attendance at the ceremony. “The largest state in the U.S. for us. We’ve invested $14 billion in the U.S. market - the world’s largest electrification market over the last ten years. We’ve gone from 6,000 to 24,000 employees - 3,000 of them here in this state. And we have significant operations in 32 states. From North Carolina to Arkansas to Silicon Valley, we are writing the future, working with our customers and communities for the future of the technology and industrial world. We’re proud to call North Carolina home. We’re proud to stand here today with the Governor and announce 400 additional jobs in Mebane.” 

Governor Cooper and Vice-Chair of Orange County Board of Commissioners Renee Price praised the teamwork of the local municipalities and ABB for making this deal work. 

“As evidenced by the people gathered here, collaboration, progressive thinking, and trusted partners are essential to the vibrancy of Orange County and the whole of North Carolina. This announcement of the expansion of ABB Incorporated, a global leader in advanced technology in our region, is extremely good news, and speaks volumes about our future,” Commissioner Price said. 

“We know all of this requires teamwork. And now the work really begins - making sure this company is successful. Making sure we can provide the employees for them, and upping the quality of life for all our people,” Governor Cooper added. 

ABB’s expansion is latest cooperative partnership between Mebane and Orange County. Mebane is uniquely positioned within two different counties. And while much of the city’s infrastructure and tax base is located in eastern Alamance County, Mebane has done a great deal to develop its landscape in western Orange County, as evidenced by the presence of such large business entities as Morinaga and AKG of America, among many others. 

“On behalf of the people of Orange County, and on behalf of my colleagues on the Board of Commissioners, I extend sincere gratitude to all parties involved in making this expansion a reality,” Commissioner Price said. “Governor Cooper, thank you for your leadership and diplomacy, and providing the necessary incentives at the state level. Thanks also to the North Carolina Department of Commerce and the Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina for their efforts and expertise. To Executive Vice President Sullivan and all of ABB, Orange County is truly grateful to you for believing in us, and allowing us to share our resources to you as you continue to offer technical solutions to humanity worldwide.” 

“As always, we are pleased to work with the City of Mebane on this project. We are also excited that Durham Technical Community College, with its Orange County campus in Hillsborough, will be offering job training to residents. These relationships continue to open portals to numerous opportunities and possibilities,” Price continued. “The investment, the jobs creation - over 400 jobs - and other amenities that will arise from this expansion will help us in achieving our goal to establish and retain quality economic development for the people of Orange County - consistent with our values. Let me reiterate how delighted Orange County is to welcome ABB Incorporated to our community. This certainly is a day to remember, and I thank you.”