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Carolina Journal Exclusives

Did Jobs Grant Clinch Relocation?

Harris Microwave executive says it wouldn’t have chosen NC without incentives, but questions remain

By Paul Chesser

June 04, 2004

RALEIGH — Harris Microwave Communications Division, the latest beneficiary of tax rebates through North Carolina’s Job Development Investment Program, was granted up to $4 million in incentives Thursday for relocating its headquarters from Redwood Shores, Calif.

But at the time the state Economic Investment Committee awarded the grant yesterday morning, the communications-equipment company had long prior already identified its location in Durham as its corporate headquarters. Under the statute that created the program, incentives may only be granted to businesses that otherwise would not relocate to the state.

According to a switchboard operator at Harris’s parent company headquarters in Melbourne, Fla., the Microwave Communication Division headquarters was located in Durham, N.C. Asked how old her company directory was that identified Durham (with a Morrisville mailing address) as the headquarters, the operator said she didn’t know but that she had had it “for quite a while.”

In addition, the Microwave Communications Division’s website yesterday afternoon highlighted its headquarters as “North Carolina, USA” and listed the Redwood Shores location as one of five “North American Offices.” Another web page on the parent company site, which listed various management officials, identified Guy M. Campbell as the Microwave Division president, which is “headquartered in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina.” Campbell attributed the website information to a quirk and suggested that other areas of the site probably say something different.

Campbell said that if the $4 million incentives package was not offered by the state, Harris Microwave would not have moved its headquarters to North Carolina. He said Florida and Texas were finalists also, but could not recall what the incentive offers from those other states were. Campbell said earlier in the day that “Our decision to come to North Carolina was based to a great extent on this grant,” according to the Triangle Business Journal.

“Obviously if they’re saying [Durham is] their headquarters before they get the grant, then quite obviously the grant didn’t cause the location of the headquarters,” said Rep. Paul Stam, an Apex Republican who serves on the General Assembly’s Joint Committee on Economic Growth.

Both Campbell and Gov. Mike Easley claimed that the move would add 80 jobs in Durham this year, and 258 jobs over the next five years. The company would be entitled to 69 percent of the personal state withholding taxes derived from the creation of new jobs.

Campbell has maintained a home in Cary for some time, although he wasn’t specific about how long it has served as his sole residence, other than to say it was “less than a year.” He said he maintained a residence in the Chicago area at his previous job up until he joined Harris in Sept. 2003. He is registered to vote in Wake County. Asked if his residence led to his decision to locate the headquarters in Durham, Campbell said, “Not at all. I would have gone to Florida or Texas. San Antonio is a nice place.” The Microwave Division maintains a facility in San Antonio.

A woman identified as an assistant to Campbell in the Redwood Shores office, however, said he had lived in North Carolina for some time and thought that was part of what drove the relocation decision. She said the office was already in the process of a dramatic downsizing.

In October 2002 Gov. Mike Easley announced that Harris Microwave would establish a research and development center at the Durham location, in the Keystone Business Park. He said at the time that 100 new jobs would be created in addition to between 35 and 40 employees that would relocate from California. Currently 59 employees work at the facility, according to a report on yesterday’s Business Journal website.

In 2002 The News & Observer of Raleigh reported that Harris Microwave would occupy 42,000 square feet of space. Campbell wasn’t sure how much of the space the company presently occupied, or what it would need to accommodate the headquarters relocation. But according to a report in the Durham Herald-Sun, the division's R&D operations don't currently utilize all the space it has, and the Keystone building it occupies has an additional 18,000 square feet it can acquire.

Tom Hausman, a spokesman for Harris Microwave’s parent company, said in 2002 that the company chose Durham because of its access to major research universities, low cost of living, and reputation as a nice place to live, according to the N&O.

“The Raleigh-Durham area has a great reputation for high-tech development,” Hausman told the newspaper. “It’s certainly a good place to be recruiting people.”

Paul Chesser is associate editor of Carolina Journal. Contact him at pchesser@carolinajournal.com.
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