If North Carolina recruiters, economic developers and lawmakers weren't actively courting GE, last week's announcement should have energized them.
In the next three months or so, the energy division of General Electric plans to select a spot somewhere in the United States for a new, $600 million solar-panel factory that's expected to employ about 400 people.
While no one will confirm North Carolina's interest, it's hard to imagine that this state won't mount some attack to attract the plum project. That effort will almost certainly include state and local incentives tied to job creation targets, and face stiff competition from other states.
For starters, it's green energy, a no-brainer for politicians eager to lure environmentally friendly jobs. It's a lot of jobs. And it's GE, not some risky solar startup.
The corporation already employs thousands in North Carolina, including at its nuclear headquarters in Wilmington, a jet-engine factory in Durham and other facilities across the state.
In 2008, GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy agreed to expand its Wilmington campus and add 900 jobs after receiving the promise of state and local incentives worth as much as $36.6 million over 12 years.
For its latest expansion, Atlanta-based GE Energy will review potential locations based on factors such as proximity to its existing research centers, available factory space and incentives.
The company hopes to make a decision within the next 100 days, said spokesman Dan Nelson. He declined to comment on whether North Carolina will be on the consider list.
GE wants to tap surging demand for solar power, and invest as the technology continues to improve, and costs keep falling.
N.C. Department of Commerce spokesman Tim Crowley also declined to comment on a specific project, per the agency's policy. He did note that one of Commerce's "targeted growth areas" is the energy industry.