RALEIGH, N.C. — For years, the Global Transpark banked on the philosophy of "If you build it, they will come." Despite past failures, supporters like Gov. Mike Easley are still counting on a bright future. However, the governor's critics do not have that kind of patience. They argue it shows a pattern of poor economic policies.
For the past decade, the state has pumped $80 million into the Global Transpark. In April, the park got a $3.8 million loan from the state to help build a new warehouse, although no tenant is signed up. Now, Easley, who serves as chairman of the Board of Directors for the Transpark, recommends the state spend another $1.6 million on operations.
"We have had a lot of interest in the Global Transpark," he said.
Boeing Corp. flirted with Kinston as a site to build new jets and create more than 1,000 jobs, but it later rejected those plans. The governor suggests other companies are looking.
"We need to be in a position to do some things to perhaps meet some obligations if it becomes necessary," Easley said.
Republicans like Bill Cobey criticize not only the Transpark money, but what they call corporate welfare.
"At some point, you have to cut your losses and not continue to throw good money after bad," he said.
Critics point to a number of decisions by Easley, including his call for $15 million in taxpayer dollars to build a NASCAR testing track in Charlotte to selective tax breaks.
"I think it's a wrong-headed way to approach economic development in this state. Let's give everybody a break," Cobey said.
Lawmakers like Paul Stam have another idea. They want to turn over Easley's big business breaks to state workers.
"There would be about $100 million, which would be enough for another 1 percent raise, so it would be a 3 percent instead of 2 percent," said Rep. Paul Stam, R-Wake.
Global Transpark leaders tell WRAL they are determined to show the governor's confidence is well placed. Their goal is to transition to a privately supported industrial park, but they are asking for more public money to get there.