$80 Million Later, State Officials Debate Use Of Global TransPark Project
Posted May 8, 2002 5:41 a.m. EDT
KINSTON, N.C. — Twelve years and $80 million later, there is still almost nothing to show for the Global TransPark project. The state Department of Transportation is now getting involved.
Lawmakers like Howard Lee, D-Orange, said the state may slice the strings to the project during a $2 billion budget crisis.
"We have found ourselves now behind the curve. When things aren't making money or making a return on your investment, you cut your losses," Lee said.
Gene Conti of the state Department of Transportation said the agency is now stepping in to oversee the Global TransPark.
"We have a couple years to make or break the situation," Conti said.
The situation started with the idea of building a huge industrial park and airport. Planes would pick up products and fly them around the world and eastern North Carolina might gain 60,000 jobs. So far, the Global TransPark has generated about 600 jobs.
"I'm not sure it's a failure. I just think it's the point where we continue to emphasize it's not an overnight project, it's many, many decades, in fact, it's this whole century," said Lonnie Blizzard, the park's acting executive director.
There are signs that the area is being used. An airport is up and running and there is a new cargo building, education center and four-lane highway. Supporters say all the pieces are in place, but lawmakers wonder if they have the patience or the purse to complete the puzzle.
The Global TransPark is located near Kinston, but the region includes 13 counties. This year, the project received almost $3 million in state money.