Local News

National Guard to get $56M HQ; 4,200 new jobs expected

Posted March 25, 2009 10:55 a.m. EDT
Updated March 25, 2009 7:04 p.m. EDT

— The state has received about $41.5 million in federal stimulus money for a new headquarters building in Raleigh for the North Carolina National Guard.

In addition to serving as the National Guard Joint Force Headquarters, the 237,000-square-foot building will house the state Division of Emergency Management and communications offices for the State Highway Patrol and the Department of Transportation.

Work on the project, which is expected to create up to 4,200 jobs, could start by early summer on an 18-acre site west of Blue Ridge Road and north of Wade Avenue. It is scheduled to be finished within two years.

Officials said some jobs might last a couple of months, while others last more than a year. They predicted the project also would ripple through construction companies, allowing them to keep some office staff on the payroll.

"All the design was done. Everything was complete. We were just waiting on federal funding to initiate the project," National Guard spokesman Maj. Matt Handley said.

In addition to the stimulus money, the state also set aside $14.5 million from the state general fund and Highway Trust Fund for the project.

Gov. Beverly Perdue credited Fourth District Congressman David Price with securing funding for the Army National Guard account in the federal recovery legislation.

“This project is big a win for North Carolina. It provides a state-of-the-art facility that will better coordinate key state services and is ready to put people to work in much needed jobs,” Perdue said in a statement.

"The recovery package was designed to create jobs, and it is encouraging to see such a direct and significant job impact here in North Carolina and the Triangle," Price said in a statement.

Contractors greeted news of the project enthusiastically, saying winning a piece of the construction work could help them rehire workers laid off during the recession.

"It gives us the opportunity to be out there to compete again," said Terri Pullen, business and operations manager of Pullen Construction Co.

Pullen said her company has laid off 20 to 25 workers in recent months, but she said she's planning for the economy to turn around with stimulus-funded projects.

In January, nearly 10,500 construction workers and tradesmen filed initial unemployment compensation claims in North Carolina. Over the last year, construction and natural resources jobs took the biggest hit in Wake County, shedding about 7,400 jobs, or about 19 percent, from early 2008 levels.

"Even now, I'm accepting applications and resumes. So, (we're) planning to hire in the future. That's what it means for us," Pullen said.

Once the new headquarters opens, the National Guard will continue to use its current facility. Some offices are now housed in temporary trailers, and officials said the transition of the National Guard from a strategic reserve to an operational reserve requires more facilities to meet the increased service demands.