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Governor helps break ground for new TransPark tenant

Spirit Aerosystems' new plant is expected to bring more than 1,000 jobs to the area.

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KINSTON, N.C. — A new tenant at the North Carolina Global TransPark at Kinston is getting a step closer to building composite fuselages for the Airbus A350 passenger jets.

Gov. Mike Easley was among those who helped break ground Monday morning for Spirit Aerosystems' new plant.

The company announced in May that it would build the facility, scheduled to open in 2010, and hire 1,031 workers over five years and invest more than $570 million.

State officials said the company was what they had been waiting 17 years to attract the facility in rural eastern North Carolina.

Some, including Easley, say Spirit is proof the Global TransPark will succeed.

"I am confident we are just seeing the beginning here today," Easley said.

Former Gov. Jim Martin was one of the park's earliest supporters in the early 1990s, predicting it would help turn around the slumping economy in eastern North Carolina. A slow start and lack of a major tenant drew criticism for years.

He said Monday's groundbreaking is validation of the dream so many had.

"If you don't take a big step like this, you're never going to get anywhere," Martin said. "Had this not been initiated, we would still be 20 years behind that eight ball."

The state is giving Wichita, Kan.-based Spirit an incentive package worth more than $125 million to locate at the TransPark. It includes a $5 million grant and more than $20 million, payable over 12 years, tied to the creation of jobs at the plant.

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