North Carolina’s effort to build an alternative fuels industry moved another step forward on Tuesday with the initial meeting of the Biofuels Center of North Carolina’s board of directors.

The Biofuels Center will be located at the North Carolina Biofuels Campus in Oxford. The headquarters is a former tobacco-research facility operated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

A goal for the Biofuels Center is to produce 10 percent of the liquid fuels sold in North Carolina by 2017. The fuels will be produced from stocks grown in North Carolina.

The General Assembly provided $5 million in funding to launch the effort. The funding came as part of an endorsement of a strategic plan developed for biofuels.

"Meeting this bold goal will require enormous commitment, new resources, and untold acres of energy crops across the state," said W. Steven Burke, chair of the Biofuels Center’s board. "Meeting the goal will also yield a sector of impact statewide, particularly for rural and agricultural communities. How often does a state have opportunity to create a large new industry with widespread benefit?"

The plan was developed by more than 80 members of the private and public sectors.

Board members include:

  • W. Steven Burke, Chair, senior vice president, corporate affairs with the North Carolina Biotechnology Center
  • Billy Ray Hall, president of the North Carolina Rural Economic Development Center
  • Ghasem Shahbazi, Ph.D., professor and director of bioenvironmental engineering at North Carolina Agricultural & Technical State University
  • Norris Tolson, secretary and treasurer, president and CEO of the North Carolina Biotechnology Center
  • Johnny Wynne, Ph.D., dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at North Carolina State University

The Center will hire an executive director and staff.