North Carolina Economic Development Guide


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Foundation and a handful of health- care companies. It's the world's frst accredited academic program for engineered fabrics. Company member- ships, private research projects and product-development services generate $3 million to $4 million annually — about 95% of the institute's budget. That pays for the more than $30 million of equipment that develops, analyzes, tests and evaluates materials and products for about 350 companies each year, including Mann+Hummel. "We won't be limited to research and theory but can do testing and improvement," says Vaillant, an automo- tive engineer with an MBA who joined the privately held company in 1997. The institute also connects applied industry researchers and campus-based experts to monetize new technologies and products. "What really attracted us was the business and industry focus of the Nonwovens Institute and N.C. State in general. They understand how industry and academia can collaborate." "This model of research partnership is very well-known to them," Almond says. "It's one of the biggest attractions we can offer them." But it's not the only one. There also is access to specialized talent. Two recent Innovation Center hires just received doctorates from N.C. State. Vaillant envisions a time when graduate and undergraduate students from a range of curricula will look at Innovation Center projects through fresh eyes. "We want to have as many students as possible in our Innovation Center. [Students'] interest is working on real issues. It's a great experience for them and for us." That strategy excites Pourdeyhimi. "They're incredibly good at what they do," he says, "and they know where they're going." He expects the company to maximize the partner- ship. Vaillant "is a visionary. He knows what he wants; he just has to put the pieces together." Two more pieces were placed in late 2013. That's when Mann+Hummel selected Raleigh for its North American headquarters, which is near Interstate 40 and 15 minutes from Raleigh-Durham International Airport. About 40 employ- ees work there, overseeing the company's automotive aftermarket and industrial fltration divisions and Purolator sales and marketing in Argentina, Brazil, Canada and the U.S. That also is when it bought outright ownership of the Fayetteville plant. The company will invest $15 million in the three North Carolina locations over the next few years. James Sauls is economic-develop- ment manager for Raleigh. He was part of the Wake County Economic Develop- ment team that, along with N.C. State and N.C. Department of Commerce, helped Mann+Hummel fnd a spot for its headquarters. "Mann is right in the wheelhouse of the kind of companies we are trying to attract and grow." Landing Mann+Hummel also energizes efforts to make Raleigh and surrounding Triangle region a global hub for clean-tech 22 N o rt h C a r o l i N a E Co N o m i C D E v E lo p m E N t G u i D E Mann+Hummel Group opened its R oduct-development center steps away from N.C. State's Nonwovens Institute.

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