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Jet engine maker creating 800 jobs paying $68,000/year

ASHEVILLE — Pratt & Whitney announced plans last week to invest $650 million through 2027 in a new manufacturing facility that will create 800 new jobs in Buncombe County.

The milestone investment in new building, technology, machinery and equipment will bring career opportunities in engineering, technology, production and management. A division of Raytheon Technologies Corp., Pratt & Whitney made the announcement in conjunction with the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners and the Economic Development Coalition for Asheville-Buncombe County.

Pratt & Whitney is a world leader in the design, manufacture and service of aircraft and helicopter engines, and auxiliary power units. Raytheon Technologies Corporation is an aerospace and defense company that provides advanced systems and services for commercial, military and government customers worldwide.

“This investment will enable Pratt & Whitney to continue to modernize and transform its operations with cutting-edge technologies,” said Chris Calio, president of Pratt & Whitney. “Turbine airfoils are a critical component across our engine portfolio and demand will increase significantly as the market recovers over the next several years. We need to invest today to ensure that we have the infrastructure, production capabilities and workforce in place to meet future market demand and to provide the best products to our customers worldwide. We are grateful for the support provided by the State of North Carolina and the local community.”

At full buildout, the Pratt & Whitney operation is intended to create more than 800 jobs at an average wage of $68,000 —  60 percent above the average wage in Buncombe County. Additionally, the company offers a competitive benefits package. The project is expected to generate more than $54 million in new annual labor income for Buncombe County and the Asheville Metro Region, according to estimates by the Department of Commerce. The hiring process for the facility is expected to begin in late 2021.

“The Buncombe County Board of Commissioners is proud to welcome Pratt & Whitney to this community as they announce the single largest job creation project in our history,” Chairman Brownie Newman said. “This project will help diversify our local economy and create hundreds of new jobs that pay above the national average.”

Company plans call for the development of a new 1 million-square-foot advanced manufacturing facility that will be situated on an approximately 100-acre tract overlooking Interstate 26 south of the French Broad River. The company’s planned facility marks the first private investment to be located in the Biltmore Park West development, an approximately 1,000-acre master-planned development located in south Buncombe County developed by Biltmore Farms, LLC. The collaboration between Pratt & Whitney and Biltmore Farms will catalyze important site, access and infrastructure improvements at Biltmore Park West, helping to pave the way for future employment and economic development in south Buncombe County.

“From the moment our team met with Pratt & Whitney and learned of their plans for a world class manufacturing facility, we knew they would craft a brighter future for the people of Western North Carolina,” said Jack Cecil, CEO of Biltmore Farms, LLC and developer of Biltmore Park West. “The vision for this facility to become a lighthouse location of innovation for the aerospace industry and for our region was inspiring, but ultimately it was our shared corporate values that helped us push forward with our collaboration and this project during these truly unprecedented times.”

The planned Pratt & Whitney facility will be accessed by a bridge crossing the French Broad River, connecting to N.C. Highway 191. The Golden LEAF Foundation awarded $12 million to the Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce Community Betterment Foundation to support construction of the critical public infrastructure.

The Golden LEAF Foundation is a reliable economic development partner in North Carolina. Over two decades, Golden LEAF has awarded more than $1 billion to local governments and nonprofits across North Carolina for projects resulting in more than 65,000 new jobs, almost $700 million in new payroll and training for more than 85,000 workers.

“Long-term economic advancement is the core mission of the Golden LEAF Foundation,” said Bo Biggs, Golden LEAF Board Chair. “The board is pleased to be part of bringing a manufacturing project of this magnitude to North Carolina.”

“Golden LEAF has been a long-term partner in supporting the aerospace industry in North Carolina,” said Scott T. Hamilton, Golden LEAF President and Chief Executive Officer. “These quality jobs and this significant capital investment will enhance the economy of Western North Carolina. We are proud to support a project that will measurably move the economic needle in our state.”

“This is another excellent example of how North Carolina has become renowned as a business-friendly state," state Sen. Chuck Edwards said. "In winning this project for our region, we saw phenomenal collaboration by state and local governments and private partners. I was thrilled to have had the opportunity to help play a role.”

Other groups involved in the expansion include Buncombe County and the Economic Development Coalition for Asheville-Buncombe County, the North Carolina Department of Commerce and the Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina, the North Carolina Golden LEAF Foundation, the North Carolina Department of Transportation, the North Carolina General Assembly, the North Carolina Community College System and Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College, Biltmore Farms LLC and Duke Energy.