10/14/09 — Perdue voices support, expectations for TransPark

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Perdue voices support, expectations for TransPark

By Steve Herring
Published in News on October 14, 2009 1:46 PM

KINSTON -- Gov. Beverly Perdue reminded the Global TransPark board of directors Tuesday morning of her long association with the TransPark, voiced her expectations that it develop into a center for the state's aerospace industry and heard an update on ongoing projects, including Spirit Aviation.

She also took a swing at the park's naysayers and recognized those who were in on the ground floor in creating the TransPark.

The TransPark is on a timeline similar to Research Triangle Park that took 60 years to develop into what it is today, she said.

"People have been skeptical for 20 years, and I say as I said all along, that this place, once it got its infrastructure in place, like with the jet runway and now the rail spur, we are poised for success," she said. "I do have a long history with the TransPark and have believed in it so passionately for years.

"In 1992, we had tremendous dreams and tremendous hope. Back then, I don't believe I knew the term aerospace cluster, but I believe we knew where we were headed. Many of you around this table agreed to come along after the beginning of the TransPark. It is really important that we have in place a system that can really stand up for aerospace clusters."

She said she is pleased with the progress made at the TransPark and that the state is on the road to creating an aerospace cluster in eastern North Carolina.

The governor reiterated her commitment to "tear down the bureaucracy" that stymies growth and development to make it easier to build jobs and make investments in North Carolina.

"Our priority is growing jobs in North Carolina," she said. "We have come through a terrible time in this state, second only to the Great Depression. Unemployment rates continue to be high across North Carolina -- in some cases 15 and 16 percent. We are beginning to see a glimmer of activity, a glimmer of recovery in North Carolina's economy. The hunt is on again for jobs."

Mrs. Perdue said the state must convince people from around the world that North Carolina is a "terrific place" to live and do business.

"We have to continue what we are doing now," she said. "I urge you to continue. We are working to create a different kind of economy for eastern North Carolina and for the state with this focus on aerospace, on aircraft services and maintenance.

"We have a ready trained work force leaving the military and eager to find jobs. We have all of those military suppliers. As we talk to people around the country we say it doesn't have to be in one county, we have lots of counties in North Carolina."

That means doing anything and going anywhere to recruit, and not just Boeing, but Airbus and all of the other companies, she said.

"(Commerce) Secretary (Keith) Crisco went to the International Air Show in France," she said. "That is where the state made the connection to Spirit. We are very, very aggressive on jobs. We are going to grow jobs."

The new Spirit Aviation will be the anchor tenant for the TransPark and will attract other small businesses to locate here, she said.

"We are going to grow an aerospace cluster in eastern North Carolina," Mrs. Perdue said. "I believe what we have to do is focus on our basics. We have to continue to educate our work force so they can come to work in a place that is 21st century. You heard what the leader of Spirit say that one of the things he was blown away by in eastern North Carolina is that we have the community college providing custom-designed training for their employees.

"So for all of these kids in eastern North Carolina, many of them who might drop out of school and not get a high school diploma, those days are over. Our parents, our leaders, the community, we all have to understand that education is all of our business, and that at the end of the day North Carolina thrives to succeed based on the capacity of our work force."

Speaking to the media during a break in the meeting, Mrs. Perdue again said the state has to focus on the basics.

"Spirit already is fast tracked and will start hiring in the spring when they open their facility," she said. "Spirit is a global player. This is a big, big company backed by Airbus.

"If they say they are going to have a 1,000 employees they are going to have a 1,000 employees. The key for us is to not slow, but to keep on hunting. We are still in this hunt. We have to have the infrastructure. We are expanding highway (U.S.) 70 and all the other roads. We know what we need to do. I think you have a governor and government that know what they need to do."

She also commented on the announcement last week by Dell that it would close its North Carolina plant.

"It is a fatality of the global market," she said. "The company was a manufacturing facility for desktops and are desktops are yesterday's technology. People in this county and around the world who buy a computer or technology go to a laptop.

"They will return their incentives. Dell told me last week that our work force is good and talented, but they getting out of that technology."