New jobs in North Carolina at CREE, producing LED lights

Yesterday, North Carolinians woke up to some very unpleasant news that Dell decided to close its computer manufacturing plant in Winston-Salem, Forsyth Co, NC by the end of this year and lay off its entire workforce of 905 employees.

While I may not like it, I can understand the economics of shutting down a textile mill or a furniture plant. It's a new world we are living in. But Dell? Computers?! If the leading computer manufacturer is suffering during the recession, what can anyone else hope for? Is there any industry that can still compete and grow?

And it seems that the answer may, perhaps, be Yes - the green industry.

Ginny Skalski, a good friend and local uber-social-networking-maven recently got a job with CREE as their social media person. And she invited me and Ashley Sue Allen to attend yesterday's press conference:

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My first surprise was the size of the Cree campus in RTP - it is enormous. I was not aware until yesterday that this is a 20 years old company and how big it was.

As a blogger, I was, forwardthinkingly (is that a word?) of them, seated up front with the media, sitting right next to state Rep. McKissick of Durham and not needing a telephoto lens or zoom to take this picture of Governor Beverly Purdue who was sitting just a few feet in front of me:

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What was the press conference about? The announcement by Cree of almost 600 new job openings, about half of them to be filled by the end of the year, some in RTP and most in their plant in Mecklenburg County. As Cree's CEO Chuck Swoboda said, Cree started at home - by replacing all the incandescent and fluorescent lightbulbs with their own LED lights in all of their own buildings. I have to say that I did not notice any difference in lighting - the room was bright and warmly lit and welcoming:

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Governor Purdue greeted the good news by saying that she also started at home - making her own house energy-efficient and outfitted by LED lights....which she also did not notice when they were installed: the light looks just like the incandescent light (and much more pleasant than the metallic fluorescent light).

She also connected the news to the importance of education. Cree was started by a group of students at NCSU 20 years ago and she stressed how such inventions, as well as jobs in such companies, require a strong educational system in the State.

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Cree set up a little demo in the back of the room where we could see (and have demonstrated) the difference between incandescent, fluorescent and LED light as well as get information about the energy savings, longevity of the lights, ease of installing them into the existing sockets, and environmental impact:

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In the end, before I left, Ginny showed me some cool colors that LEDs come from. I have used the infrared LEDs in my research many years ago, and was interested to learn about the advancements in technology since then, as well as other uses for LEDs apart from home and business lighting, e.g., in research, medicine and defense.

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Read more coverage of the event in News & Observer and Triangle Business Journal. You can see a little bit of me in this picture, all the way in the back, while the mainstream media journalists were interviewing Governor Purdue.

This video comes from NBC17:

And Ashley Sue Allen took these videos of the proceedings:

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May I post a plea for Cree's attention, since they may be reading their publicity?

Offer LED lights that omit the narrow blue-green range that suppresses melatonin but give decent color rendering.

It might cost just a little bit more, if you don't count the externalized costs of using "white" LEDs. It will cost us all much less if you provide the lamps, healthwise.

It's not only turtles who need these.

As posted in another blogger's thread much earlier:
This is one Iâd like to see, but is behind a paywall. The little bit Google provides suggests serious attention â streetlights are mentioned â may be appropriate.

http://www.informaworld.com/index/905453876.pdf

Light, melatonin and cancer: current results and future perspectives
C Bartsch, H Bartsch, E Peschke - Biological Rhythm Research, 2009 - informaworld.com
⦠leukemia ... a deficiency of melatonin secretion may ⦠and using street lamps with no or little blue light. â¦

Blogger Sandra Kiume looked into it a bit:
... a helpful quote from the abstract:

âAs an immediate preventive measure to counteract presumed cancer-enhancing effects of circadian rhythm disturbances .... In order to avoid a chronic suppression of nocturnal melatonin due to light at homes and in offices, the preferential use of blue-filtered light should be considered, particularly during autumn and winter monthsâ¦â

http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2007/03/12/light-and-dark/#commen…

Interesting. RTP has *so* much potential. Let's hope it's used wisely. Still more PhD's per capita in the triangle than any other area of the country. More people who listen (and I mean really listen) to Rush Limbaugh too, but what can you do?

By Catharine (not verified) on 10 Oct 2009 #permalink

Yeah, I grew up thereabouts; it's near the 'fall line' where the Piedmont Plateau drops about 30' down to the coastal plain -- there used to be water-powered mills all along that line.

It's a great location for management. Not so good for workers. Check out the movie 'Norma Rae' -- that's the area.

I'm so glad you enjoyed your front row seat to the press conference. It was a pleasure having you and I hope you'll get to come back out sometime. I'm also glad you got to connect with Kyle and tour the trade show booth. I think the booth really helps put into perspective how nice Cree LED lighting is and how it stacks up to incandescent and fluorescent bulbs. Thanks for this full round up!

P.S. Please note that all of the jobs we announced on Friday are for our campus in Durham, NC!

Cree has also begun manufacturing and assembling LED lighting products with Flextronics in Mecklenburg County, N.C. But the jobs we announced on Friday will all be based at our Durham, NC facility. We're very excited about this.