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AVRC: the time is right

R-C News-Herald Editorial

The timing of the Advanced Vehicle Research Center couldn’t be better.

With gasoline prices skyrocketing and the possibility of $100 a barrel oil looming, this research center should play a major role in developing more fuel efficient and alternative fuel vehicles.

Construction on the AVRC in Northampton County will begin in July and a ground breaking ceremony was held last week to celebrate the public/private partnership that made the center possible.

This unique facility partners multi-national automotive companies with North Carolina’s leading universities and community colleges.

The center will also provide an amazing opportunity for the people of the Roanoke-Chowan area. The potential for new jobs in the highly technical fields of alternative vehicle research and alternative fuels will be something this region has never experienced and will put this region at the forefront of a budding industry vital to the future of this nation.

The research center is the brainchild of AVRC Executive Director, Dick Dell. Dell put five years of planning into getting the AVRC off the ground and relied heavily upon government and elected officials from the area to find funding for the project.

Dell thanked everyone involved with development of the AVRC during Friday’s groundbreaking ceremony, including Northampton County Economic Director Gary Brown, for their tireless work on the project and convincing legislators the project was worthy.

Dell thanked area legislators, including the Northampton County Board of Commissioners, North Carolina Representatives Michael Wray, Howard Hunter, Joe Tolson and Lucy Allen, NC State Senator Robert Holloman and United States Congressman G.K. Butterfield for their support and ability to find the necessary funds.

While alternative fuels are getting a great deal of coverage in the national media and the dependence on foreign oil is seen more and more as a threat to this nation’s security, the AVRC will actually spearhead this effort.

Initially, the AVRC will include a four mile test track developed by AVRC and Lotus. There will be working garages, emissions testing equipment, offices and training center for clients and members of the AVRC. There will also be special testing and refueling facilities for alternative fuel vehicles (AFV’s) using fuels such as bio-diesel and hydrogen. The AVRC will be the newest and most comprehensive center available for the development and testing of AFV’s.

The AVRC will also partner with N.C. State University to provide satellite classes for high school students in Northampton County.

The convenient location of the center (near I-95) will also make it attractive to major companies. Ultimately, the success of the center will be determined by the creative thinking of the AVRC team and the level of continued commitment from government leaders.