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Obama Visits NC Plant that used $39 Million Stimulus to make $127 Light Bulbs and Pays CEO $4.2 Million


Obama Expects Americans to pay $127 Each for this 100 watt bulb

President Obama is desperately hunting for some good news with the nation’s economy. Or at the very least, at least one or two anecdotal success stories to help create an illusion that everything is on track. So today, Obama visited a North Carolina manufacturing plant that makes “green” energy saving LED light bulbs.


How cool is that? Obama can showcase a wildly successful American manufacturing company as proof manufacturing jobs are returning to America. And on top of that, he can promote his “green” agenda with a remarkable well designed and well thought out replacement for the good old incandescent light bulb.

A better bulb that saves energy and provides American jobs. This is exactly the success story candidate Obama promised on the campaign trail 3 years ago when he last visited the much smaller plant back in the pre-Obama days. And listening to Obama today, watching him swell with pride as he said:

So today the small business that a group of N.C. State engineering students founded almost 25 years ago is a global company.  It’s got 5,000 employees.  Next month, your new production line will begin running 24/7.  And soon you’ll add another 400,000 square feet of space on a new site next door.  So you’re helping to lead a clean energy revolution.  You’re helping lead the comeback of American manufacturing.  This is a company where the future will be won.

There we go! WTF. Winning the Future! Rah! Rah!

Amazing! A small upstart plant has grown in 25 years and is not employing 5,000 workers in this Global company!

Let’s look at how Obama defines success in this case.

In January, 2010, Cree was given the wonderful news that Obama was going to give them some money. $39 million in fact!

Look at the happy announcement:

The Obama Administration’s efforts to promote green energy manufacturing is benefiting two North Carolina companies.

Both Novozymes and Cree will receive millions in tax credits under a $2.3 billion stimulus program announced Friday.

Novozymes, which develops and makes enzymes that are used in biofuels, is receiving a $28.4 million tax credit. But the money won’t be used in Franklinton where the Danish company has its North American headquarters. Instead it will use the credit to help build a facility that will employ 100 people in Nebraska.

Cree, the Durham maker of energy-efficient lighting, qualified for $39 million in tax credits. Cree will use the money from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to pay for manufacturing equipment to make LED lights.
The federal money will help Cree pay for a rapid expansion to meet product orders from China and elsewhere. The company hired nearly 300 people last year and plans to hire a total of 575 by 2012 to ramp up production of LED, or light emitting diode, fixtures.

And Joe Biden jumped on the bandwagon shortly after the money from the stimulus went to Cree saying:

Biden talked about how receiving $39 million in tax credits from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act in January allowed Cree to purchase new equipment and expand its work force. Cree has hired about 375 engineers, office staffers and production workers since last summer as demand took off. The company has about 1,500 workers in Durham, out of a worldwide staff of 3,200.

How Many American Jobs Did Our $39 Million Buy?
The Biden comments were from March, 2010. One report stated that Cree planned to expand it’s Durham workforce by 500 employees by 2012. Other breakdowns of US employees are not easily obtained. So, if we knew that last year they had 1,500 Durham workers, if they added all 500 they would have 2,000 American workers presently. Obama said they now have 5,000 global workers, so one must assume that 3,000 Cree jobs are overseas. So, Obama flew Air Force One to North Carolina to applaud a green company that added 500 American jobs for $39 million! That is $78,000 per job.
So are the employees really doing that well?
One is doing pretty good!
CEO Charles M. Swoboda managed to grab over 10% of the stimulus money to line his own pocket! According to Forbes, the top Greenie-Weenie pulled in $4,266,764.00 in total compensation.
So, if you make a better light bulb you reap the rewards, huh?
Well, if you consider a PAR38 12 HIGH POWER CREE LED LIGHT BULB (36 WATT) costs $127.82 (but it puts out 100 Watts equivalent, they say). On the other hand, you could buy a normal old incandescent 100 watt bulb for $.62. But there is a catch with the cheaper bulb. In order to get that price you must buy a 4-pack for a whopping $2.48.
Who would pay $127.82 for a freaking light bulb when you can get one for 62 cents? Well, the answer is, we all will. The $.62 bulb will be outlawed next year.
So Swoboda will probably be able to double his compensation to $8 Million or more when the new law mandates that we all use either the LED lights or the toxic mercury tainted bulbs on the market.
But even if the bulbs don’t sell, don’t worry. Obama has given them even more tax dollars:

The Durham-based company has received a $39 million advanced energy manufacturing tax credit through the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act that covers 30 percent of the cost of expanding its production abilities. The federal government has also given Cree $1.8 million in ARRA stimulus money for research and development.

But, hey. It’s probably a wonderful place to work, right?
Well, not exactly. Take a look at these comments from City Data:
I believe they only get 2 weeks of vacation per year. While I realize that’s close to average in the US, it is not up to par with other major RTP-area employers where 3+ weeks is more the norm.

You are offered a job by Cree because the previous person is burnt out or shoot themselves. I offered to work there, because of the same reason and so many more as timed passed. I am so happy it is ended. In this economy, they have lots of fish. They use people to death and replace them one by one. It is the only way they can compete with chines and other competitive company. They do not employ people from NC for technical parts since every body in NC know them, they have no choice than bring people from areas they haven’t heard about CREE reputation. Why else in this hell economy people leave a good pay job?!!!! Now I work in Intel, any they are awful too, but they are working me only 48 hours, not 70 hours like CREE. If I didn’t have a child wife and bills to pay, I never stayed in CREE more than 3 days.

Someone who worked there in a very responsible position told me that the hours were insane. He regularly worked 14-hour days and said the only people who were happily married were ones that were on the same schedule. Everyone else was divorced and/or miserable. You are married to your job.
He said only the marketing people had regular 40-hour schedules.
It sounded horrific to me.
It’s certainly not an urban legend.
Employees will put up with a lot in recessionary times.

Just forget it unless you are desperate

The 14 hours is absolutely true. And it is not like you are spending time behind your desk. You are physically working and getting pushed at, all the time. Well if you have a normal job of 40hours a week and you make 40K for example, then work for 80 hours a week, then you make 80K what Cree is offering. May be you better off doing your current job for 80 hours than working for Cree. How much do you think an LED cost that they can offer you 80K typical salary at CREE, so they compensate it by working you literally (not figuratively) 80 hours. On top of that you may meet managers who are notorious then you are domed. Why else in this economy someone leave a good pay job. Cree and even other LED companies expand in china not in USA unless otherwise they work you to death. look at glassdoor website, all the complain are the same , look at other companies, you don’t see complain on slavery. People complain all the time, but at CREE consider yourself an slave type early industrial revolution in Europe.
If you are in the mood for more comments, many even more devastating, look here.
An Obama success story can be defined as a European style sweat shop that treats employees like slaves, sucks in government money to buy more sweat shops in China and has a CEO who makes over $4 Million a year selling light bulbs at $127 a pop.
If this is how Obama defines success, we are in deep trouble!

About Tom White

Tom is a US Navy Veteran, owns an Insurance Agency and is currently an IT Manager for a Virginia Distributor. He has been published in American Thinker, currently writes for the Richmond Examiner as well as Virginia Right! Blog. Tom lives in Hanover County, Va and is involved in politics at every level and is a Recovering Republican who has finally had enough of the War on Conservatives in progress with the Leadership of the GOP on a National Level.

13 Responses to “Obama Visits NC Plant that used $39 Million Stimulus to make $127 Light Bulbs and Pays CEO $4.2 Million”

  1. theBuckWheat says:

    In 2010, the median household income was $52,026. At that rate, $39 million is the annual income of almost 750 households. I have yet to see a case where any government "stimulus" created jobs at a cost of less than the median household income. This means that we are on the road to serfdom and debt-servitude, not prosperity and freedom.

  2. coaldust says:

    LED lights are the way to go (I own 15) — but not publicly funded lights. The risk of default and the rewards of success should be taken on by private investors, not by the entire tax base through government edict.

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    LED lights are the way to go (I own 15) — but not publicly funded lights. The risk of plastic products manufacturers default and the rewards of success should be taken on by private investors. This means that we are on the road to serfdom and debt-servitude, not prosperity and freedom.

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Tom White Says:

Nothing is more conservative than a republican wanting to get their majority back. And nothing is more liberal than a republican WITH a majority.

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