KINSTON, N.C. — The first major tenant of the opened its doors Thursday, more than 20 years after the 2,400-acre industrial site opened in Kinston.
, the world’s largest independent supplier of commercial airplane components, announced in May 2008 that it would build a 500,000-square-foot manufacturing facility and hire more than 1,000 workers over five years and invest more than $570 million.
Employees at the facility will design and manufacture 9,000 composite fuselages for Airbus A350 passenger jets.
Employment is on track to exceed 200 by the end of the year, the company says, and it will grow to about 700 over the next few years.
North Carolina gave the Wichita, Kan.-based Spirit an incentive package worth more than $125 million to locate to Kinston. It includes a $5 million grant and more than $20 million, payable over 12 years, tied to the creation of jobs at the plant.
The Global TransPark, which has received more than $80 million in state and federal funding over the years, has been criticized as being a failed venture with just 23 other small tenants, including some state agencies.
A recent audit showed that it operated at a loss of nearly $3.5 million. It also owes the state a $35 million loan, due this year.
In the state budget signed on Wednesday, lawmakers reduced funding to Global TransPark by about $300,000, Rep. William Wainwright said. That reduction brought down Global’s funding for this fiscal year to around $1 million.
Lawmakers had considered slashing the park’s funding by half which would have reduced the funding to just over half a million dollars.
On Thursday, Gov. Bev Perdue called on Global TransPark to submit short and long-term strategic plans by August. She said she wants to see how Global plans to grow and attract other businesses.
Prior to Spirit, the state competed for several aviation projects to go to the Global TransPark. Among them were a Fed Ex hub that went to the Triad and a Boeing manufacturing plant that went to the state of South Carolina.
* Reporter: Ken Smith
* Photographer: Mark Simpson
* Web Editor: Kelly Gardner