“Project Blue,” as it was first known, got its start with a site visit by VinFast to the TIP site in Chatham County back in December.
“We’ve really been working really hard on this project in the last four weeks,” Chatham County Manager Dan LaMontagne told the News + Record. Michael Smith, president of the Chatham EDC, described the last two weeks of work in finalizing agreements between all parties “intense.” The final MOU (memorandum of understanding) was signed on Tuesday.
The group involved in putting together the proposal for VinFast included multiple local, regional and state partners — among them, the N.C. Dept. of Commerce, N.C. General Assembly, the Golden Leaf Foundation, Central Carolina Community College and the state’s Community College System, the state departments of Transportation and Environmental Quality, North Carolina Railroad Company, Raleigh Executive Jetport, Duke Energy, the Triangle J Council of Governments, Samet Corporation, City of Sanford, Dominion Energy, CSX Railroad, North Carolina State Ports Authority, Preston Development, ECS Southeast, the Kaplan Companies and the Lee-Moore Capital Company.
VinFast considered another site in the U.S. but turned its focus on Chatham early in March.
It’s a massive economic project, the largest in North Carolina’s history. Officially, those involved with the deal say VinFast will invest $4 billion in the project by the end of 2026 and create 7,500 jobs. But those numbers won’t include potential expansion and ancillary support which typically comes close to an automotive manufacturing facility. Investment could surpass $7 billion and total job count could well exceed 10,000 — perhaps as high as 13,000.
Average wages will be around $51,100 annually.
Triangle Innovation Point was formerly known as the Moncure megasite. It’s 2,158.5 acres in total with a prime location: just off U.S. 1 north of Sanford, six minutes from Sanford’s Raleigh Exec Jetport, 30 minutes from RDU and minutes from the I-540 loop in Wake County and two rail lines. Plus, utilities are already in place. VinFast is expected to eventually occupy about 1,750 acres in 1,866-acre Tip East. The 420 acres in TIP West are being developed separately.
VinFast is now taking orders in the U.S. for its all-electric premium SUVs — the full-size VF9 and the mid-size VF8. The smaller of the two, the two-row VF8, cost around $39,400 in other countries; while the three-row VF9 starts at around $53,700, according to the website InsideEVS. Pricing for the U.S. market has not been announced, but a VinFast executive told the News + Record that pricing will likely start at around $39,000 for the VF8 and $49,000 for the VF9 in the U.S. — but incentives may bring prices lower, particularly as the plant’s production ramps up.
Michael Smith, the EDC’s president, told the News + Record VinFast plans a “very compressed” timeline, with EV production output scheduled for mid-2024. VinFast Global CEO Le Thi Thu Thuy told the assembled group at Tuesday’s announcement at the Raleigh Convention center that the target was July 2024.
Lots. Local incentives are still awaiting final approval — a positive vote by Chatham County commissioners on its $400 million package is expected — but they’ll be performance-based and spread out over a long period of time based on VinFast meeting specific performance targets. County Manager Dan LaMontagne said details at the county level would be finalized early next week, with a public hearing tentatively slated for April 18.
The $400 million in incentives will be paid out over 20 years, based on VinFast meeting performance targets.
From a statewide standpoint: a Transformative-class Job Development Investment Grant (JDIG) could provide VinFast with $316.1 million over the next 32 years, depending on targets. The state General Assembly is expected to appropriate $450 million to be used for site and road improvements — including additional water and sewer infrastructure. In addition, the GoldenLEAF Foundation will provide $50 million and North Carolina Community Colleges will provide $38 million in customized training support.
VinFast is a subsidiary of VinGroup, which dates back to 1993. It’s the largest privately-held company in Vietnam and one of the largest in Asia. It’s the first Vietnamese car maker to expand globally and the first to offer EVs — electric vehicles — and electric scooters in the U.S.
“In Chatham County, we have been positioning ourselves to be ready for responsible, forward-thinking, future-ready industries. I am proud to be part of the team that set the groundwork for us to welcome this investment by VinFast that fits squarely with the goals of our comprehensive plan, Plan Chatham.”
Karen Howard, chairperson, Chatham County Board of Commissioners
“VinFast brings great opportunity to our region and Central Carolina Community College is excited to be a part of their workforce solution. Along with our regional sister community colleges, K-12 school systems and universities, we have the career pathways to support the targeted talent pipeline. CCCC’s commitment to expanding industry partners such as VinFast, includes a comprehensive array of education and manufacturing solutions customized to fit the industry needs.”
Dr. Lisa Chapman, president of Central Carolina Community College
“We are grateful for this opportunity and thrilled to welcome VinFast to Chatham County, North Carolina, for its first electric car manufacturing plant in the United States. This investment will benefit our community for decades to come by employing thousands of people in our region to build environmentally responsible vehicles that will reduce our carbon footprint.”
Dan LaMontagne, Chatham County Manager
“This announcement is the culmination of decades of hard work by current and former EDC staff, Chatham County staff, our elected officials, local and regional partners, and support from citizens. Welcoming a major employer like VinFast to Chatham County will transform the area, positively impacting the tax base and will retain and draw people to the area for years to come. This has always been the vision for Chatham County, and we are very excited to witness it come to fruition with this project.”
Greg Lewis, chairman, Chatham County EDC board
“North Carolina is quickly becoming the center of our country’s emerging, clean energy economy. VinFast’s transformative project will bring many good jobs to our state, along with a healthier environment as more electric vehicles take to the road to help us reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”
N.C. Gov. Roy Cooper
“As a native of this area I am incredibly excited to see VinFast choose to join our community. Everyone in our region and across the state welcomes VinFast to our community, and we are committed to help this company succeed in North Carolina.”
Rep. Robert Reives II
“Many people and organizations have worked tirelessly behind the scenes to bring these new jobs and investment to Chatham County. Everyone in our region and across the state welcomes VinFast to our community, and we are committed to help this company succeed in North Carolina.”
Sen. Valerie Foushee
“North Carolina’s strong commitments in building a clean energy economy, fighting climate change and reducing greenhouse gas emissions in transportation make it an ideal location for VinFast to develop its premium, smart and environmentally friendly EVs. Having a production facility right in the market will help VinFast to proactively manage its supply chain, maintain stabilized prices and shorten product supply time, making VinFast’s EVs more accessible to customers, contributing to the realization of local environmental improvement goals.”
Le Thi Thu Thuy, Vingroup Vice Chair and VinFast Global CEO