Butterfield tours AVRC site

Published 12:00 am Saturday, January 21, 2006

GARYSBURG – United States Congressman G.K. Butterfield (D-NC) visited the future site of the Advanced Vehicle Research Center (AVRC) in Northampton County on Wednesday.

“The long-range predictions for this facility are great,” Butterfield said.

“The AVRC will be a 630-acre automotive proving ground that will support the automotive and transportation industry in the state while attracting new automotive companies to the region,” AVRC Executive Director Richard Dale said. “The land has been purchased, clearing is in progress and a construction plan is being developed.

“More than $15 million in funding has been committed to the AVRC, including $7.5 million from the state, $1.8 million from Northampton County, $1.8 million from the federal government and $1 million from the Golden Leaf Foundation. There is a tremendous latent need for this type of facility.

“In addition, Lotus Engineering (a division of Lotus Cars UK) has pledged $3 million in engineering services, approximately $1 million per year for three years, to assist in the design of the ride and handling track and other test tracks,” Dale added.

Lotus Engineering has been selected as the primary engineering services partner in the enterprise.

“There will be hydrogen and bio-fuel refueling stations and a fuel cell test lab at the AVRC,” Dale continued.

“We are working with North Carolina State University to support research activities and NCSU will sponsor an automotive symposium in March 2006 to showcase the AVRC and NCSU activities.

“I worked closely with the Congressman and his staff to secure the funds for this project,” Dale said.

“It is always difficult to get federal dollars,” Butterfield said. “This funding was done through an earmark and hopefully we can secure more funding for Northampton County, but a lot of these types of things depend on the political climate.

“The federal government is facing a $400 billion deficit for 2006 and an $8 trillion national debt,” Butterfield emphasized.

“We expect the AVRC to employ at least 2,000 people and possibly 20,000 people in the future,” Dale said. “A similar facility in Ohio helped attract a Honda manufacturing facility that transformed the area and attracted 60,000 jobs.”

Stage one of the AVRC will include offices, garages, a 2.5 mile ride and handling track, refueling stations and engine test cells.

“A demonstration vehicle project is funded for 2006, which will involve the participation of NCSU and industry sponsors to design and construct one or more alternative fuel, high technology vehicles to show technical competencies of the AVRC and the state of North Carolina,” Dale said. “The project will bring national and international recognition to our state and the AVRC.”