Source: The News & Observer
Author: Craig Jarvis

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK - The laboratory and drug-development company LabCorp will create 422 new jobs and invest $30 million for an operations center in Research Triangle Park, under financial incentives announced Tuesday.

The state has agreed to give the company up to $8 million in tax reimbursements over 12 years, if hiring and investment commitments are met, through the Job Development Investment Grant approved by a state committee Tuesday morning. The agreement also moves up to $2.7 million into a statewide account that helps rural communities.

Durham County has offered $220,000 in tax incentives, according to the state.

LabCorp said it has signed a 15-year lease with property owner Parmer Innovation Centers, which purchased 20 buildings in RTP last year from GlaxoSmithKline. LabCorp will lease two buildings with about 222,000 square feet of space.

In addition to the new positions, the RTP facility will house some employees of LabCorp's drug development business, who now work out of several locations in Wake and Durham counties.

The move comes as Parmer is spending $80 million to modernize the RTP campus with extensive amenities in hopes of attracting tenants. It has leased four buildings back to drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline and leased additional space to Credit Suisse.

Bart Olds, director of asset management for Parmer, said in an interview Tuesday that the company wasn't trying to build a public park; rather, it will cater to those who work there.

Not a public park

"We want people to be excited to come to work in RTP," Olds said. "RTP is a one-of-a-kind campus with all the conveniences: a gym, permanent food truck sites, outdoor meeting spaces, upgraded walking trails, places to hang out before and after work and more."

Olds has been supervising the makeover of the buildings and surrounding land with the intention of providing recreation and entertainment for the workers in an office park that does not have a place for employees to live. He said amenities have been culled from the company's experience in other centers it owns, including in Austin, Texas.

"There's a growing demand for tenants to have highly amenitized space," Olds said. "Cubicles and break rooms are not really what the modern worker is demanding. It's all about creating a work-life balance."

For Parmer's RTP site, that includes plans for a treehouse meeting space, sports, yoga sessions, food trucks, a gym, a hammock conferencing area, and an outdoor amphitheater. Olds has also thrown in shuffleboard, cornball, ping pong, a gaming area and a 40-inch, LCD, 300-game video device that is on its way from California, he said. Durham planners are reviewing the company's site plans, Olds said.

Parmer owns 1.8 million square feet at RTP. It has about 650,000 square feet of office space still available.

Close to its roots

LabCorp was founded in Burlington nearly 50 years ago, and has stayed close to its roots, company CEO and chairman David P. King said in a statement Gov. Roy Cooper's office distributed on Tuesday.

"Bringing many of our valued colleagues together at this location will enhance collaboration, and will complement our well-established diagnostic and drug development operations in RTP and the Triad."

LabCorp has close to 9,000 employees in North Carolina in multiple locations. More than 5,800 of them are in the Triad and more than 1,800 are in the Triangle. Headquarters will remain in Burlington, the company said.

The RTP site will house information technology staff that is already employed by the company, along with workers in its drug development business.

The new positions will be added over time, and will include IT designers, software developers, operations staff, and senior and middle managers. When all are hired, the payroll is expected to be $27.7 million annually.

Craig Jarvis: 919-829-4576@CraigJ_NandO