CHARLOTTE-Corning Inc., a 149-year-old Corning, NY-based manufacturer, is starting construction this month on a $450 million expansion at its optical fiber plant in Concord, NC 20 miles northeast of Downtown. The expanded operations will make Corning the world’s largest manufacturer of fiber optics, the firm says in a prepared statement. The expansion will also strengthen North Carolina’s reputation as a high-tech products leader.

This will be the company’s second expansion this year in Concord, boosting its total investment in North Carolina to $2.5 billion. Corning will receive a package of state and county incentives. The firm expects to add about 500 jobs by 2004 and eclipse the capacity of its own Wilmington, NC plant, which had been considered the world’s largest. The firm also said it is scouting sites for another US facilities and would announce the location in a few months.

Construction on the new addition will begin immediately with operations coming on line in 2003 or 2004. When complete, the plant will account for about $1 billion in county tax value, Maurice Ewing, president of Cabarrus County’s economic development organization, says in a published report. Ewing identifies the county and Piedmont North Carolina as a leader in the telecommunications infrastructure while providing a counterpoint to the declining fortunes of the textile industry.

In addition to its Concord and Wilmington facilities, Corning has cable-making subsidiaries in Hickory, NC and Winston-Salem, NC. The company sold off its cookware business in 1998. The firm’s gross 1999 revenue was $4.7 billion.

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