Plans for implementing an aerospace corridor along U.S. 70 through Craven, Lenoir and Wayne counties are moving ahead after all three counties gave their approval for the plan.
The proposal to attract new high-tech businesses and jobs was the idea of Craven Economic Developer Timothy Downs, who said the counties will join forces in an initial marketing campaign.
He said all three counties have assets and resources such as Cherry Point and Coastal Carolina Regional Airport in Craven County, along with the North Carolina Global TransPark in Kinston and Seymour Johnson Air Force Base in Goldsboro.
He said the next step is to establish a website, an issue he and planners from the other two counties planned to address shortly, along with signing various inter-local agreements.
That will be followed by submitting the documentation to the local state legislators, seeking legislative acknowledgement of the corridor.
He said that minus that support, the project would move on with two other key state endorsements needed – Department of Commerce and Department of Transportation.
“Commerce, because it is economic development, ultimately, and DOT because we would like some signage,” he said.
“When you start looking at all the assets that we have, both public and private, we have a really high concentration of aerospace assets along that (U.S.) 70 corridor,” Downs said. “The idea is for the three counties to partner, to come together and establish this aerospace corridor, the North Carolina Aerospace Corridor.”
He said that the counties would market individually and collectively to attract new businesses and the accompanying jobs.
There are no specific boundary lines through the three counties, although U.S. 70 is the center strip.
Downs said the inter-local agreement between the counties includes a commitment of $1,000 annually to begin. Craven’s portion has already been pledged by the Craven 100 Alliance. The money would include building the website and developing promotional materials.
"It's a good platform we can market," said Mark Pope, Lenoir County economic developer.
He said the area workforce is already knowledgeable about jobs in the aerospace industry, and that fact should be another reason for companies to look to the region.
"We've got a lot of that already in place and we can grow it," he said.
He said leaders in all three counties see the potential upside in marketing the region as the aerospace corridor.
"We erased the lines and worked for a common good," Pope said.
Charlie Hall can be reached at 252-635-5667 or 252-259-7585, or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @CharlieHallNBSJ