Gov. Pat McCrory joined officials from Hospira on Wednesday for the opening of a new lab that will be home to 200 jobs.
Officials are optimistic about the announcement after a tough economy has devastated the Rocky Mount area and surrounding Nash and Edgecombe counties.
The opening of pharmaceutical company Hospira's new lab could be a sign of things turning around in the area. Those involved in the area's economic development say jobs are starting to come back slowly, and they point to the city's $5 million revitalization as an example.
"We're seeing businesses locate downtown," said Rocky Mount City Council member Rubin Blackwell. "We're seeing private businesses both small and large invest."
The state provided some financial incentives to Hospira to help convince the company to expand. McCrory said more of the same is needed to bring the area back.
"We have the talent, the quality of life and the education needed to have a successful company continue their investment in Rocky Mount when they could have gone any place in the United States," McCrory said.
In August, Nash County had an unemployment rate of 11.4 percent and Edgecombe County had an unemployment rate of 13 percent, the second-highest in the state.
Wake County, by comparison, had an unemployment rate of 6.6 percent.
Hospira, which trades on the New York Stock Exchange, provides injectable drugs and infusion technologies. Hospira said it has 2,600 employees in Rocky Mount.
"Rocky Mount's new laboratory, coupled with our investments throughout the plant, will help ensure that we continue to supply high-quality, more affordable medicines to customers and patients who need them," said Marty Nealey, Hospira's vice president of Rocky Mount Operations.
Hospira's headquarters are in Lake Forest, Ill., and the company has 16,000 people worldwide.