October 9, 2008
Elizabeth City, N.C. Officials Break Ground on $13 Million Aviation Research and Development Commerce Park
Less than 60 miles from where the Wright brothers took their historic first flight in 1903, a U.S. Congressman, North Carolina legislators, Elizabeth City and Pasquotank County officials, Elizabeth City-Pasquotank Regional Airport Authority leaders and a host of state and regional partners broke ground today on the $13 million Elizabeth City-Pasquotank Aviation Research and Development Commerce Park.
"The Elizabeth City-Pasquotank Aviation Research and Development Commerce Park has almost unlimited potential," said keynote speaker Congressman G.K. Butterfield, whose district includes the Elizabeth City area. "The park will be a major catalyst in the transformation of the economy of the entire northeast North Carolina region into a hub of aviation and aerospace development."To be located on 63 acres near the Elizabeth City-Pasquotank County Regional Airport, Phase I of the Elizabeth City-Pasquotank Aviation Research and Development Commerce Park will take advantage of one of North Carolina's greatest assets, the U.S. Coast Guard Air Station at Elizabeth City.
Upon completion, the aviation park will connect the 7,200-foot runway shared by the U.S. Coast Guard and the Elizabeth City-Pasquotank Regional Airport, with a taxiway capable of accommodating C-130-sized aircraft and larger. Phase I will include as many as four hangars, the Elizabeth City State University (ECSU) School of Aviation Science and a College of the Albemarle (COA) facility for conducting its Air Frame/Air Plant maintenance certification programs.
DRS Technologies, which operates an aircraft maintenance facility next to the Elizabeth City-Pasquotank County Regional Airport, will be among the first major tenants of the park.
The infrastructure for the Elizabeth City-Pasquotank Aviation Research and Development Commerce Park will be completed by May 2009, and the ECSU School of Aviation Science and COA academic and technical programs will begin in the fall 2010.
The $13-million aviation park is expected to attract more than $150 million in private investment and generate 500 well-paying, aviation-related jobs.
Through a series of grants, the North Carolina Department of Commerce is contributing $5 million to the project. The Golden Leaf Foundation is contributing $2 million, the North Carolina Department of Transportation Division of Aviation $1.5 million and the North Carolina Rural Economic Development Center $1 million, all for infrastructure. ECSU also will contribute to the infrastructure costs.
Elizabeth City, Pasquotank County and state and national leaders view the park's development as a way to expand beyond the successful relationships with the U.S. Coast Guard and existing aircraft-overhaul contractors into diversified aviation and aerospace industries, such as rapid prototyping, advanced-composite manufacture and avionics manufacture. With North Carolina being the first state to completely deploy Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADB-S) technology, ECSU's School of Aviation is expected to play a key role in the research, development, production and installation of ADS-B and other avionics systems.
In addition to developing an FAA-certified Air Frame Repair and Maintenance program, COA offers several degree programs, including Computer Engineering Technology and Electrical/Electronics that support aviation-related businesses. For information go to www.discoverEC.com or call 1-888-338-1678.