12/09/05 — Aircraft parts manufacturer plus training center added at TransPark

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Aircraft parts manufacturer plus training center added at TransPark

By Turner Walston
Published in News on December 9, 2005 1:49 PM

KINSTON -- The Global TransPark continues to grow as Workhorse Aviation Manufacturing opened its doors Wednesday.

Just down the road, Lenoir Community College's Eastern Region Advanced Machining Center held an inaugural ceremony.

Both facilities are part of the North Carolina Aerospace Alliance, founded to procure business for manufacturing spare parts for aging aircraft.

Workhorse Aviation will manufacture structural components for commercial and military aircraft. The company will operate out of a 27,500-square-foot facility, employing about 50 people. The Eastern Region Advanced Machining Center, at the Global TransPark Education and Training Center, will train workers in machining methods.

Workhorse Aviation building

News-Argus/Turner Walston

Workhorse Aviation will manufacture aircraft components in a 27,500-square-foot facility at the North Carolina Global TransPark.

Workhorse Aviation employees will be some of the first graduates of the Advanced Machining program at Lenoir Community College.

"This is such a great thing for our community and Eastern North Carolina," Kinston Mayor Buddy Ritch said at the opening ceremonies Wednesday. "We're talking about jobs and jobs and jobs."

"This is a culmination of a milestone and a celebration of success," said Bob Ernst, chief aging aircraft director with U.S. Naval Air System Command. "The whole system of how we support our aging aircraft is pretty broken. There are a lot of people who are working harder, but we need to work smarter."

The funds for the projects came from the Golden LEAF Foundation, established in 1999 to administer funds from the state's settlement with cigarette manufacturers. Golden LEAF made $9.3 million in grants this April to help move North Carolina into the aircraft part manufacturing business.

Golden LEAF made the grants "to help create regional opportunities to stand up businesses with the military," said Mark Sorrells, senior vice president of Golden LEAF.

"We're very proud of what North Carolina has brought to the table," Sorrells said. "There will be a lot of opportunities for employment in the eastern part of the state."

UGS, a Texas-based software company specializing in computer-aided design programs, granted Lenoir Community College $13 million in UGS software for use at the Advanced Machining Center.

Nancy Stallings, executive director of the Global TransPark Foundation, said Workhorse Aviation would be part of the park's growth in the global marketplace.

"It's not just great big 500 people companies," she said. "It's small companies that have great, great, great potential."

Mrs. Stallings said Workhorse and the Advanced Machining Center were steps toward procuring more military business opportunities in North Carolina. She said given the state's military population, in-state businesses should pursue more military contracts.

"We're going to make North Carolina not 42nd in the country, but fourth in the country, just like we are with people," she said.

Melanie McTaggart, president of Workhorse Aviation Manufacturing, said her company should be just one of many to enhance economic growth in eastern North Carolina.

"I'm creating 50 jobs from the get-go," she said. "They need more than 50 jobs."