AVRC ready to change the world

Published 12:00 am Saturday, April 29, 2006

GARYSBURG – &uot;What we will do here is going to change the world.&uot;

Those words from Don Graunstadt, Chief Executive Officer of Lotus Engineering, describe the enthusiasm displayed during the Advanced Vehicle Research Center (AVRC) groundbreaking ceremony held Friday.

The Center will rise out of a grass-covered field in Northampton County and forever change the economic future of the county in a positive way.

The AVRC is a public-private partnership matching the talents of multi-national automotive companies and North Carolina’s leading universities. It will provide a secure, well-equipped and expertly staffed proving ground for advanced vehicle research, focusing on alternative fuel vehicles.

&uot;As AVRC enters the world stage, from day one this center will be regarded as a leader in research in alternative fuels and alternative vehicles,&uot; Executive Director Dick Dell said. &uot;I approached the U.S. Department of Energy in late 2001 with a feasibility study and I researched from Charlotte to the coast for a site and this place is perfect.&uot;

Dell told the story of how many people were skeptical at first saying the site he had chosen for the project is in the middle of nowhere, but Dell responded by saying now it will be the center of the research world.

&uot;I want to thank Gary Brown and Vann Rogerson,&uot; Dell added. &uot;It has been an honor to know and work with them. I also want to thank the economic developers from the region and the local leaders.

&uot;We have a strong commitment from North Carolina State University,&uot; Dell continued. &uot;Nancy Powell has been committed to this since I first approached her (about the project).&uot;

NCSU will also create a distance-learning center in partnership with the AVRC, which will allow students to take classes in Northampton County.

The AVRC will also create a hydrogen/ethanol vehicle through the support of a grant from the Department of Energy.

Joining Dell for the ceremony were locally elected leaders, the CEO of Lotus Engineering and the Vice-President of MDE International.

&uot;The future is what this project is all about,&uot; Northampton County Board of Commissioners Chairwoman Virginia Spruill said. &uot;The AVRC will shape the future right here in Northampton County.&uot;

&uot;This is a happy occasion,&uot; United States Representative G.K. Butterfield (D-NC). &uot;We are going to have to be creative and we are going to have to work together. I feel change is on the way and I pledge to you that we are going to make a difference in the lives of the people of this area.&uot;

&uot;Let’s give ourselves a big hand,&uot; North Carolina State Senator Robert Holloman (D-4th) said. &uot;Gary Brown and many others worked tirelessly to get the funding for this project. Without the Northeast Partnership we would not be here today.&uot;

According to Holloman, the state is providing $7.5 million dollars in funding for the AVRC.

&uot;Dick Dell had a vision,&uot; North Carolina Representative Michael Wray (D-27) said. &uot;People never thought this would happen, but this is a dream and a reality. The (NC) House stepped up to the plate and Northampton County stepped up to the plate.&uot;