India-based Infosys, an information technology outsourcing firm, announced Thursday it will hire 2,000 workers over the next four years for a technology hub in North Carolina, the second of four planned hubs in the U.S.
Infosys executives were joined by North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper at a public event in which they said the hub will be developed in the state's Research Triangle region.
The consulting company expects to hire the first 500 North Carolina workers within two years as part of an overall strategy leading to eventual creation of 10,000 jobs overall across the four sites. The first was announced for Indiana in May and the other two locations haven't yet been announced.
Infosys already has more than 1,100 jobs in North Carolina, according to state documents. Company officials will begin hiring for the hub later this year, company President Ravi Kumar said in the appearance with Cooper at North Carolina's old Capitol Building.
"We know that they feel strongly about North Carolina and the potential that our state holds," Cooper said.
Kumar stressed that the jobs created as part of its U.S. expansion would go to American workers. While workers could come to North Carolina from all over the country, Kumar emphasized the company aimed to fill positions in part through recruiting local university graduates and training workers through a customized community college program.
"This was an easy one for us," Kumar said. "That's one of the key reasons why we chose North Carolina — there's such an excellent ecosystem of colleges and schools."
The jobs will be created in Wake County, which encompasses Raleigh and parts of the Research Triangle Park, with average salaries of $71,000. A state incentives panel finalized an agreement earlier Thursday whereby Infosys could receive $22.4 million in taxpayer-funded grants if they meet job creation, investment and wage thresholds. Another $3 million from the state would help create the community college training program.
The incentives, which are linked to a percentage of the income tax withheld from the paychecks of newly hired workers, have been used by North Carolina for more than a decade.
Cooper defended their use as necessary even in a county where the unemployment rate is below 4 percent, saying incentives were needed to compete with other states that offer similar benefits to attract higher-paying jobs. At least seven other states are recruiting Infosys, a state document said.
Infosys, which has corporate clients worldwide and in North Carolina, will use the technology hubs to bring their employees and client workers together to develop products for things such as artificial intelligence, big data analysis and shared computing.
Previously, Infosys announced its first hub as part of plans to hire 2,000 new workers by the end of 2021 in the Indianapolis area, home turf of Vice President Mike Pence, a former Indiana governor. President Donald Trump has blasted an American visa program that tech companies have heavily relied upon to temporarily bring in workers from other countries at lower wages.
Infosys, which is headquartered in Bangalore, employs more than 200,000 workers worldwide.
"Anytime you want to hire, we always find a shortage of talent ... and to get talent out there, you want to go to schools and enable them with a strong training infrastructure and bring them into to a productive workforce," Kumar told reporters. "We want to hire locally."