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One of Wilson’s largest employers announced a $57 million expansion Wednesday with hiring for 55 new jobs starting in mid-2020.
“Merck is a valued employer in our region,” N.C. Sen. Milton “Toby” Fitch Jr. said in a press release “We welcome these additional jobs and the opportunities they will bring to our people.”
Local and state officials gathered at the west Wilson plant Wednesday to celebrate Merck’s plan to add a filling and packaging line for the company’s RotaTeq vaccine to prevent rotavirus gastroenteritis in children.
“We’ll be introducing a new manufacturing concept,” said Amanda Taylor, associate vice president of operations.
Currently the plant’s 500 full-time employees focus on packaging 55 Merck products. Taylor said with the help of a modular pod built in Texas and delivered to Wilson, the plant will expand into filling.
“New growth from one of our area’s most important industries is an exciting development,” said N.C. Rep. Jean Farmer-Butterfield. “Our community is proud to partner with Merck, and we look forward to supporting the company’s next phase of growth.”
Tom McCubbins, senior vice president of Merck’s global pharmaceutical operations, said broadening the scope of work at the Wilson plant is essential to the facility’s life and longevity within the company. To help facilitate the expansion, Merck received a $200,000 performance-based grant from the One North Carolina Fund as well as $700,000 from Wilson County.
“Nothing beats first-hand knowledge, and Merck’s previous experience in our state gave them the confidence to bring this new business line here,” said N.C. Commerce Secretary Anthony M. Copeland. Merck considered various facilities for about a year before selecting Wilson for the expansion. “In just one year, this company has now invested $737 million in North Carolina, proving again that we’re a hotbed for the life science industry.”
Merck announced in July the investment of $650 million, which included about $30 million and 34 new jobs in Wilson. Taylor said the plant currently is hiring to fill several vacancies with the combined 89 new jobs filled by the end of 2021. Visit https://jobs.merck.com to learn more about the openings and apply.
“Who would have thought in 1950 when tobacco was your major economic force that Wilson would now be a leading area for life sciences in North Carolina and perhaps the country,” Copeland said. “... With today’s announcement, Merck’s investment in our state is approaching $1.7 billion.”
Wilson County Commissioners Chairman Rob Boyette said officials are proud to see two local investments by Merck within the past few months but added the pharmaceutical manufacturer is not the only company choosing Wilson. He said eight new companies and eight existing Wilson industries have announced major investments with 1,200 new jobs and $572 million in investment throughout the past 30 months. Boyette noted that each advanced manufacturing job results in the creation of five indirect jobs, two professionals and three people in the service or retail industry, within Wilson.
“Someone was telling me the other day that Wilson has been lucky,” said Copeland about corporate investments in the county. “Luck comes to those who are prepared, and you’ve invested in the infrastructure and, with the community college presence, you have the talent here.”