India firm to bring in jobs

A company based in India said Monday it will create 513 jobs in Wake County, boosting the area's sluggish economy and highlighting a burgeoning trend in North Carolina.

The U.S. subsidiary of HCL Technologies, an Indian consulting firm that employs more than 50,000 worldwide, said it will expand in the Triangle during the next five years and add jobs with average pay of $46,660 annually.

The state promised the company, HCL America, a grant worth as much as $5.07 million. The company has received no local incentives because it plans, initially, to lease instead of build a facility.

HCL America considered sites in Texas and Arizona before making a decision and will use the Wake County operation to reach customers more easily. Its clients include jet maker Boeing and pharmaceutical giant Merck.

HCL America got its start in 1989 and, in the beginning, did simple programming and other basic work. Since then, the division has grown to more than $1 billion in annual revenue. It provides sophisticated design, research and other services to its customers.

The company's growth illustrates India's evolution.

“Indian companies have come of age very, very rapidly,” said Vivek Wadhwa, an entrepreneur and executive in residence at Duke University's Pratt School of Engineering. “They're now becoming quite dependent on the U.S. marketplace.”

That means jobs. HCL is the second major company of Indian descent to invest in North Carolina in as many months.

In June, the U.S. subsidiary of Indian conglomerate Reliance Industries said it would add 204 jobs and invest $215 million at its first North American manufacturing near Kinston. The trend is a reversal from one with which North Carolina has grown accustomed – jobs moving to emerging economies.

HCL America was drawn by Wake County's central location on the East Coast, the pool of available talent and access to universities.

“A lot of thought and discussion went on,” said Shami Khorana, president of HCL America. In the end, though, “it felt like a very obvious and logical conclusion,” he said.

HCL America hasn't yet picked a specific local site but expects to have the operation running by year's end.