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County to Award $3 Million in Incentives to Merck

Post Date:08/21/2019








For Immediate Release                               Date: 08/21/19

Contact: Public Information Office               Phone: (919) 560-0000/Fax: (919) 560-0020



Manufacturer to Invest More Than $650 Million in Expansion Project Between Durham and Wilson Counties.

Biopharmaceutical Company to Bring Nearly 400 New Jobs to its Vaccine Manufacturing Facility in Durham.


Durham, NC – Last month, Durham County Government joined in the celebratory announcement that Merck, Incorporated, would expand its Durham-based vaccine manufacturing facility. The announcement, the third expansion this year for the County, follows a $8.8 million incentive package from the North Carolina Department of Commerce that includes $4.97 million tied to a Job Development Investment Grant.


“The Board of County Commissioners is excited about these great new manufacturing jobs as well as the significant capital investment Merck is making in Durham County,” said Commissioner Chair Wendy Jacobs.


When the expansion announcement, set to include the creation of 391 jobs in Durham, was made, Durham County Government had yet to solidify its complementing award package. On Monday, August 12, 2019, the Durham County Commission held a public hearing to consider allocating $3 million in economic development funds to Merck. The BOCC unanimously agreed to an incentive package that will earn an expected rate of return of nearly $8 million worth of new property tax revenue within the first five years of the new project. 


According to Chair Jacobs, “One of our priorities is making sure we have a wide variety of jobs available to Durham residents. We will be working with Merck and community partners to strengthen our education to work pipeline to prepare Durham residents for these great jobs. Besides having living wage jobs for people of all backgrounds, having a strong tax base with a mixture of commercial, residential and office development is good for Durham residents. In addition to the more than $1 billion that Merck has invested in their Durham County facilities, this $650 million investment will help provide the property tax revenue we need to fund our public schools and county services.”


The enlarged footprint for the Merck plant is scheduled to be completed in 2023. It is located in Treyburn Corporate Park which is situated in the north region of Durham. The project will enable the biopharmaceutical company to further produce the human papillomavirus vaccine Gardasil, a shot designed to protect against cervical, vaginal, vulvar and anal cancers. “This project maintains momentum in the life sciences industry where related companies make investments here as a result.” said Durham County Economic Development Officer Andy Miracle.


New jobs related to this project are expected to start coming online in the summer of 2021 when the vaccine facility is scheduled to be completed. The manufacturing jobs associated with the development will include operations positions with a starting pay of $61,000 and benefits, and support functions jobs starting at $80,500. Many of these new opportunities will not require an advanced degree. According to Merck, the average wage for new positions at its Durham-based plant will exceed $73,000.


“Merck’s expansion has significance on many levels for Durham County,” Durham County Economic Development Officer Andy Miracle said. The capital investment made by the County and State will positively impact the property tax base growth in Durham. The increase will assist in the funding of public schools and pay for services and programs for all residents. While Merck continues its work to develop medicines and vaccines in Durham, the global leader has also committed to working closely with Durham Public Schools, Durham Technical Community College, North Carolina Central University’s BRITE Center, North Carolina Works, and other organizations that can support the pipeline for Durham residents to be prepared for employment opportunities associated with the biopharmaceutical company’s expansion. According to Miracle, “Merck has a track record of engaging workforce development partners and it’s a great deal for Durham County.”


The Merck facility located in Durham opened in 2004 and Wilson County since 1980. “Recognizing that Merck has 120 locations  around the world, we are fortunate to see our partnership with Merck grow and to see further expansion of the manufacturing sector in Durham County,” Jacobs said. Expansion plans will allow the employee count to be nearly one thousand in Durham and bring approximately 30 new positions to the Wilson County packaging facility east of the Triangle.




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