The ground is set for ‘Aviation Research and Development Commerce Park
Albemarle Economic Development Commission
October 13, 2008
Less than 60 miles from where the Wright brothers took their historic first flight in 1903, a U.S. Congressman, North Carolina legislators, Elizabeth City and Pasquotank County officials, Elizabeth City-Pasquotank Regional Airport Authority leaders and a host of state and regional partners broke ground October 9 on the $13 million Elizabeth City-Pasquotank Aviation Research and Development Commerce Park. "The Elizabeth City-Pasquotank Aviation Research and Development Commerce Park has almost unlimited potential," said keynote speaker Congressman G.K. Butterfield, whose district includes the Elizabeth City area. "The park will be a major catalyst in the transformation of the economy of the entire northeast North Carolina region into a hub of aviation and aerospace development." To be located on 63 acres across the street from the Elizabeth City-Pasquotank County Regional Airport, Phase I of the Elizabeth City-Pasquotank Aviation Research and Development Commerce Park will take advantage of one of North Carolina’s greatest assets, the U.S. Coast Guard Air Station at Elizabeth City. Upon completion, the aviation park will connect the 7,200-foot runway shared by the U.S. Coast Guard and the Elizabeth City-Pasquotank Regional Airport, with a taxiway capable of accommodating C-130-sized aircraft and larger. Phase I will include as many as four hangars, the Elizabeth City State University (ECSU) School of Aviation Science and a College of the Albemarle (COA) facility for conducting its Air Frame/Air Plant maintenance certification programs. DRS Technologies, which operates an aircraft maintenance facility next to the Elizabeth City-Pasquotank County Regional Airport, will be among the first major tenants of the park. The company’s expansion into the aviation park will be in addition to its second 80,000 square-foot hangar nearing completion adjacent to the airport. Both the existing DRS hangar and the one nearing completion are used for overhauling C-130 aircraft under a U.S. Coast Guard contract. The infrastructure for the Elizabeth City-Pasquotank Aviation Research and Development Commerce Park will be completed by May 2009, and the ECSU School of Aviation Science and COA academic and technical programs will begin in the fall 2010. The $13-million aviation park is expected to attract more than $150 million in private investment and generate 500 well-paying, aviation-related jobs. "The key to the success of this project in attracting both funding and park tenants is the synergy between our higher education institutions and industry," said Matt Wood, chairman of the Albemarle Economic Development Commission (AEDC) and a Pasquotank County commissioner. "Locating the ECSU and COA aviation programs onsite will provide park tenants with a ready supply of highly trained workers and local residents with unparalleled well-paying job opportunities in their hometown." Project Partners Through a series of grants, the North Carolina Department of Commerce is contributing $5 million to the project – $2.3 million for land acquisition and $2.7 for master site-planning, taxiway and other infrastructure construction. The Golden Leaf Foundation is contributing $2 million, the North Carolina Department of Transportation Division of Aviation $1.5 million and the North Carolina Rural Economic Development Center $1 million, all for infrastructure. ECSU also will contribute to the infrastructure costs. As the developer of the park and applicant for these funds, the City of Elizabeth City worked collaboratively with Pasquotank County, the Elizabeth City-Pasquotank Regional Airport Authority and the AEDC. "This project demonstrates what can be accomplished through community teamwork," said Elizabeth City Mayor Steve Atkinson. "Without the full cooperation off all the partners – the city, the county, the Airport Authority, the AEDC, ECSU and COA – this celebration today would not be possible. And all of us owe a particular debt of gratitude to Rep. Bill Owens, whose leadership in the N.C. General Assembly laid the foundation for the initial Department of Commerce Economic Reserve Fund grant that launched the project." Opportunities At today’s ground-breaking ceremony, officials lauded the tremendous opportunities the Elizabeth City-Pasquotank Aviation Research and Development Commerce Park will present. Elizabeth City, Pasquotank County and state and national leaders view the park’s development as a way to expand beyond the successful relationships with the U.S. Coast Guard and existing aircraft-overhaul contractors into diversified aviation and aerospace industries, such as rapid prototyping, advanced-composite manufacture and avionics manufacture. With North Carolina being the first state to completely deploy Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADB-S) technology, ECSU’s School of Aviation is expected to play a key role in the research, development, production and installation of ADS-B and other avionics systems. In addition to developing an FAA-certified Air Frame Repair and Maintenance program, COA offers several degree programs, including Computer Engineering Technology and Electrical/Electronics, that support aviation-related businesses. This press release appears courtesy of the Albemarle Economic Development Commission (AEDC). Headquartered in Elizabeth City, the AEDC markets business opportunities in the City of Elizabeth City and Pasquotank and Camden counties to prospective employers throughout the United States. For information, call the AEDC (www.discoverEC.com) at 1-888-338-1678 or (252) 338-0169.