RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK — In the wake of worldwide staff cuts, Cisco Systems plans to expand its Research Triangle Park campus by adding 550 jobs here over the next four years.
Company employees gathered to hear the news cheered as Gov. Pat McCrory announced the expansion Friday morning at the California company’s 12-building RTP campus. The average annual wage for the new jobs is expected to be $72,700 plus benefits, far above the Wake County average of $49,410.
Cisco, the world’s largest maker of network equipment, already has about 4,600 employees and 1,400 contractors here, and plans to hire a mix of finance, engineering, network design and customer service personnel by the end of 2017.
“This place is so cool,” a grinning McCrory played to the crowd of assembled employees after his VIP tour of Building 12 on Cisco’s RTP campus.
As part of the tour, McCrory watched a demo of the DX80, a new Cisco product coming out at the end of this month. The high-definition video communication system syncs iPads and desktops so that users in remote locations can look at the same screen as if they were in the same room.
Cisco’s expansion comes after two years of restructuring and layoffs that resulted in the elimination of more than 12,000 jobs globally, including an unspecified number in RTP. Recently the San Jose-based company passed a symbolic milestone in which more than half its employees are now based outside the United States.
Cisco has 76,000 employees worldwide; the RTP site is its third largest after San Jose and Bangalore, India. The company established a Triangle presence in 1993 when it opened a sales office here.
Ed Paradise, Cisco’s top executive in RTP, said the campus reflects the entire company and its operations. He said the RTP and San Jose campuses are atypical for the company in that they have largely expanded through internal growth rather than through acquisitions of startups and smaller technology companies.
Cisco has come under intense pressure in recent years as technology shifts to a model in which code and apps increasingly do the work of machines. As a result, the company is experiencing a slowdown in demand for its legacy routing and switching equipment from customers in the communications, finance, insurance and other sectors.
Cisco is eligible to receive up to $12.9 million in state incentives over 12 years if it meets investment and job-creation milestones. The company chose RTP over sites in Texas and Georgia.
“The incentives are certainly a large part of it,” Paradise said of Cisco’s decision to expand in the Triangle.
The company’s goal remains unchanged to eventually have 10,000 employees in RTP, as previously announced, Paradise said. Even though Cisco recently sold three buildings to NetApp, Paradise said the company’s remaining 12 buildings have the additional capacity to allow Cisco to grow its workforce to 10,000.
Paradise said other factors include the state’s favorable business climate and quality of life as well as its universities that produce a steady string of hires for the company.
Gary Moore, Cisco’s president and chief operating officer, said the incentive package with North Carolina requires the company to backfill vacancies created in RTP by the most recent round of layoffs before it can begin counting new hires toward its 550 total. Cisco doesn’t disclose layoffs by site, but Moore said the cuts in RTP were a “small number.”
Moore flew in from California to attend Friday’s announcement in RTP.