Lotus commits to AVRC

Published 12:00 am Saturday, May 20, 2006

GARYSBURG – Corporate partnership will be the key to success for the Advanced Vehicle Research Center that is locating here.

Northampton County Economic Development Director Gary Brown has expressed that sentiment since the beginning of the project.

His forecast got a boost last week when North Carolina Governor Mike Easley announced that Lotus Engineering plans to open a research and development facility at the AVRC site.

&uot;Today’s announcement brings a top-notch research and development facility to Northampton County and provides 108 well-paying jobs to area residents,&uot; Easley said. &uot;We will continue to make the necessary investments in workforce development, education and infrastructure to ensure our state remains competitive in this industry.&uot;

The investment by Lotus, which is a United Kingdom-based automotive engineering consulting company, was made possible in part by a Job Development Investment Grant.

&uot;Lotus is truly a world-class company held in high regard throughout the automotive industry – domestically and internationally,&uot; Brown said. &uot;We are thrilled to have them as a corporate partners in Northampton County and this state.

&uot;Our forecasts have been that substantial ancillary investment and job creation would result from the AVRC project,&uot; he added. &uot;We believe the announcement by Lotus validates that forecast.&uot;

Lotus Engineering provides a range of services to many of the world’s car manufacturers and automotive suppliers, from initial concept, project design through development, to full production prototypes.

While wages vary by job function, the anticipated average annual wage for the new positions will be $48,000 plus benefits, which is more than the Northampton County average annual salary of $24,128, not including benefits.

The company plans to open their research and development facility at the AVRC later this year. The facility, located just outside of Garysburg, is designed to provide a safe, secure and private environment while reducing the time and cost of product research and development. The research center was an important element in Lotus’ willingness to consider operations in North Carolina.

&uot;As a leader in advanced vehicle design and development, Lotus Engineering has the unique ability to support the ever-growing automotive industry of the southern United States, while also providing year-round vehicle testing support to the northern automotive industry,&uot; Don Graunstadt, CEO of Lotus Engineering, said. &uot;Lotus Engineering’s ability to use experience and knowledge to shape inspirational conceptual ideas into reality is a key skill. The opportunity afforded by North Carolina will accelerate our capabilities and growth.

&uot;We look forward to providing a resource to the automotive industry that will assist in the development of advanced technologies,&uot; he added.

For his part, Northampton County Manager Wayne Jenkins was pleased not only with the investment in the county, but also with the people who made it.

&uot;This is an exciting announcement that we have been anticipating,&uot; Jenkins said. &uot;We look forward to a partnership with Lotus Engineering that will be beneficial to both the county and the company

&uot;It is equally exciting that a leader in the industry such as Lotus considered Northampton County,&uot; he added. &uot;The officials that I have met from Lotus have been personable which symbolizes the professional image of a company and their world renown name.&uot;