The history of Kannapolis in Cabarrus County during the 20th-century is closely tied to the Cannon Manufacturing Company. James William Cannon started construction of his mill in 1906. At his death in 1921, 12 plants in the Kannapolis complex employed 15,000 workers, who were producing over 300,000 towels a day. The mills employed several generations of mill workers. In 1985, the plants were sold, and after passing through several owners, closed permanently in 2003. Nearly 4,800 workers in Cabarrus and Rowan counties were laid off. County leaders began a search for new projects. Since 2003, over 350 new jobs have come to Kannapolis, along with $25 million in new investments. The biggest project is the North Carolina Research Campus. This $1 billion biotechnology center, opening in 2010, will be one of the most advanced facilities of its type in the world.