Mooresville temporary workspace for DEHN
German-based electrical engineering and manufacturing company plans to work temporarily from this building in Mooresville while its new U.S. headquarters is being built. Provided

Mooresville, north of Charlotte, edged out around 350 potential U.S. locations and two finalists in Columbia, South Carolina and Auburn, Alabama to secure the site of a German electrical engineering and manufacturing company’s U.S. headquarters, a move that Gov. Roy Cooper announced on Jan. 23. 

Despite being offered better incentives from some other locations, DEHN, Inc. leadership said the infrastructure and workforce talent of the Charlotte region cinched the spot.

DEHN, Inc. is the U.S. subsidiary of Germany-based DEHN SE, according to a press release from the governor’s office. The company has services for lightning and surge protection. DEHN will also open a production facility in Mooresville, which just east of Lake Norman along Interstate 77 in southern Iredell County.

The company will invest $38.6 million in the project and create 195 jobs, according to the press release, and hopes to mainly hire within the region. The average salary for the new positions is more than $66,000, higher than the current average wage in Iredell County of around $63,000. 

DEHN has not yet calculated the median salary, or what the average would look like without executive positions, according to Ingo Rutenberg, CEO of DEHN, Inc. He noted the engineering positions will also probably have higher salaries.

The project is estimated to grow the state’s economy by $523 million over the next 12 years, according to the governor’s office.

Charlotte Douglas International Airport and the highway connectivity in the region were major draws, Rutenberg said, as well as strong Internet infrastructure. Some other locations even offered land for free, but were not as attractive because they weren’t nearby an international airport. DEHN wanted an “overall package,” he said.

“In terms of talent availability, what was the overall area like, and who were your other corporate neighbors going to be – that’s where those other areas, even though they had stronger dollar figures in terms of incentives, they were not as attractive,” Rutenberg said.

DEHN did receive a “decent” amount of incentives from North Carolina, Rutenberg said. The state approved a Job Development Investment Grant that uses the tax revenue generated by the new business and reimburses the company for part of it – in this case, $1.17 million spread over 12 years. However, the company must meet incremental job creation and investment targets to receive the money, according to the press release.

The Town of Mooresville and Iredell County approved economic incentives of more than $900,000 each to the company at meetings on Feb. 5 and 6. Both entities based the incentives on an expected investment of up to $38.5 million, DEHN must create a minimum of 120 jobs by Dec. 30, 2030, to receive the money over the seven-year period. 

Real estate was still a factor. Mooresville and Iredell County had the right mix of temporary space and several sites available to build a longer-term facility, according to Jenn Bosser, President and CEO of Iredell Economic Development Corporation.

DEHN plans to lease 30,000 square feet at a business center called Merino Mill, Bosser said. The company is looking at several sites for the U.S. headquarters facility. The company hopes to complete the building in two phases: first with 70,000 square feet by December 2026, then an expansion up to 200,000 square feet by December 2030.

The workforce talent was another draw, Rutenberg said. The new facility will require manufacturing, engineering and administration positions, most of whom will need to be on site, he said.

Bosser wrote that the company met with University of North Carolina at Charlotte and Mitchell Community College representatives.

In response to questions about housing supply, Bosser wrote in an email the county has attracted housing investment over the past several years. Based on conversations with local municipalities, she said: “the estimated total of units combined planned, proposed or under construction is approximately 20,000 across Iredell County.”

Historically, companies that have received the same grant incentive from the state as DEHN haven't been successful in meeting the proposed goals, the News and Observer reported. But state officials have said the program is still doing its job because the companies don’t receive benefits if they don’t meet targets.

As part of the DEHN project, the state will also direct almost $400,000 of the new tax revenue into the state’s Industrial Development Fund – Utility Account, which supports infrastructure in rural communities. As Iredell County is classified as a Tier 3, or least economically distressed, the fund is supposed to help offset the imbalance by directing funds to poorer counties.  

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Grace Vitaglione is a reporter for Wmforo. Send an email to [email protected] to contact her.