Sunday, June 16, 2024

Golden LEAF sending $6M for huge Global TransPark project

The Golden LEAF Foundation board this week approved a $6 million grant to the North Carolina Global TransPark Authority to help pay for a Navy aircraft repair facility in Kinston that is expected to add 444 jobs over the next six years.

The $435 million project is an extension of the Navy’s Fleet Readiness Center East, the aviation maintenance and repair depot at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point in Havelock. The Kinston site is expected to help maintain C-130 transport planes, which are now mainly serviced at Hill Air Force Base in Utah.

Golden LEAF’s contribution is on top of $350 million allotted in the state budget to support the project. The Navy is slated to lease the Global Transpark for at least $15 million a year, which will pay back the state outlay.

The TransPark board last week approved $90 million of contracts for the two-phase project, which is now expected to handle additional work compared with initial estimates. “This is a big step forward for the Global TransPark,” Board Chairman Tom Hendrickson told NC Military Report editor Dan Barkin.

The Navy project is a big victory for the TransPark, which state leaders created more than 30 years ago to boost economic development in rural eastern North Carolina.

The TransPark jobs are expected to pay about $72,700 a year, compared with an average wage of $48,500 in Lenoir County. Construction is expected to start by the end of this year, according to people familiar with the project.

The TransPark is an hour’s drive from Cherry Point. It has an 11,500-foot runway, 2,500 acres and a growing aviation presence, with Wichita, Kansas-based Spirit AeroSystems and Kinston-based charter jet company flyExclusive. Lenoir Community College is building a $25 million Aviation Center of Excellence at the transpark.

FRC East employs about 4,000 people in Craven County, making it the largest industrial employer east of Interstate 95.

Golden LEAF was created by the 1998 agreement with large tobacco companies related to a settlement of public-health litigation. The fund had assets of $1.3 billion as of April 30. Over its history, it has provided an equal amount to support economic efforts, mostly in N.C. areas once dominated by the tobacco industry.

David Mildenberg
David Mildenberg
David Mildenberg is editor of Business North Carolina. Reach him at

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