19 March 2010


US Vice President Biden and Energy Secretary Chu visit LED maker Cree

On Thursday, US Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of Energy Steven Chu visited LED chip, lamp and lighting fixture maker Cree Inc of Durham, NC, USA to discuss the Obama administration’s commitment to issues including creating manufacturing jobs and building the clean energy economy. The administration cites Cree as an example of job growth through adapting to a clean-energy economy by manufacturing energy-efficient products.

Previously, Cree’s chairman & CEO Chuck Swoboda met President Obama at the White House last July as part of a roundtable discussion on US innovation and clean energy technology. Swoboda subsequently joined Chu last October at the Clean Energy Economy Forum in Washington to discuss science, innovation and job creation in the new clean economy.

As part of last year’s economic stimulus package, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act's Advanced Energy Manufacturing tax credit program included $2.3bn for manufacturers of clean-energy products, shared between 183 firms in 43 states. As the only recipient in North Carolina, in January Cree received $39m in federal tax credits. This represents 30% of the money that Cree will investment in new manufacturing capacity and jobs at its Durham plant to boost production of LEDs for high-efficiency lighting.

“The ongoing support from the Obama administration is important as we promote the value of energy efficiency and sustainability in today’s economy,” said Swoboda. “Cree is creating American clean-tech jobs right now.” To meet the booming demand for LEDs, since February 2009 Cree has hired about 375 staff engineers, office staff and production workers (adding to about 1500 staff in Durham).

North Carolina has lost more than 100,000 manufacturing jobs since the recession began in December 2007, raising the state's unemployment rate to 11.1% in January (the highest since records began in 1976), according to a report in The Charlotte Observer.

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