Focal Point: Space Available
Posted April 21, 2005
Updated November 4, 2013
Original Air Date: April 21, 2005
In 1991, Gov. Jim Martin announced plans for a massive industrial complex that could restore the sagging economy of eastern North Carolina. The idea was to merge manufacturing with air cargo transportation in a revolutionary facility that would meet the demands of the new global economy.
Two large runways would be surrounded by factories to facilitate “just in time” manufacturing. Raw materials and parts would be flown in and assembled into finished products, which would be flown out.
Companies could deliver goods to their customers faster while also cutting transportation and inventory costs. The complex would be called the Global TransPark. The state selected Kinston as the site. Over the years, however, the project has been plagued by permitting delays, management problems and scandal, and it has not lived up to its promise.
Predictions of the GTP’s economic impact were ambitious. Studies said that it would create 55,000 jobs by 1998 and pump $2.8 billion dollars a year into the region’s economy. Since 1991, more than $140 million in federal, state and county funds have been spent on the GTP, but the project has failed to land a major corporate tenant, has no manufacturing facilities and has not created a single manufacturing job.
Today, the GTP claims to employ 200 people, but that includes its own staff and employees from three state agencies that have offices there. In recent years, both Boeing and FedEx rejected the GTP as a possible site for new operations. GTP expenses are outpacing revenue, and it can’t pay back a $25 million loan it got from the state Treasury in 1993.
GTP supporters say environmental permitting delayed development of the project until 1998. The project’s centerpiece, an 11,500-foot runway, wasn’t completed until 2002. They say most of the major public investment is over and that companies are starting to take a look at the site. Supporters say it would be a mistake to pull the plug on the project now that it is finally ready to fly. Critics say they’ve heard that before and that it’s time for state leaders to admit that the GTP is a giant boondoggle.
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Focal Point Extras
Video: John Kasarda, Director of the Kenan Institute of Private Enterprise, makes a presentation at Governor Martin's Economic Summit in August 1991 in which he outlines the concept for what would become the Global TransPark.
Video: A marketing and promotional video produced by the Global TransPark in 1994 portrays the massive, futuristic industrial complex that was to be built in Kinston.