HICKORY, NC-The largest fiber optics operation in the world. That’s the goal of Corning, NY-based Corning, Inc. The company’s Corning Cable Systems is spending $60 million in yet another build-out that will generate higher production at two Hickory plants, about 50 miles northwest of Charlotte.

The company committed $40 million to one of those plants last summer. The total investment is $100 million over the next five years. Corning Cable plans to increase spending to $50 million from $40 million at its optical cable plant, and spend another $50 million on new equipment for a plant that makes cable for outdoor use. The new 250,000-sf optical cable plant here on 22nd Street is expected to open by May, adding about 50 new jobs.

Corning Inc. of New York, the parent firm, says it will spend $450 million to make its Concord-area fiber-optics operation the largest in the world. That move comes with 475 new jobs and up to $47 million in state and local development incentives. In Catawba County, cable manufacturers account for an estimated 40% of the fiber-optic cable produced in the world.

The fiber-optic cable industry employs about 10,000 in Catawba County, second behind furniture. Most of Corning Cable’s 3,500 North Carolina employees work in Hickory.

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