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NCCAR rumors untrue

GARYSBURG – The North Carolina Center for Automotive Research (NCCAR) project is moving ahead despite a media report that the project is “stalled” and is being looked into by federal investigators.

According to Northampton County Economic Development Commission Director Gary Brown, he has not been contacted by federal investigators and said the project is not stalled.

Brown, who is also the President of the NCCAR Board of Directors, noted PLT Construction Company, Inc. of Wilson was just awarded an $8.4 million contract to build phase one of NCCAR, which is an independent, non-profit center where clients can research, test and develop automotive technologies and alternative fuels.

“Today (Monday) we received approval from our attorneys of the contractors’ documents,” said Brown. “A pre-construction meeting will be held on (Friday) and we intend to give notice to begin construction work.”

Brown also addressed the funding for the project and Dick Dell, Executive Director of the Advanced Vehicle Research Center (AVRC), who was attached to NCCAR during the beginning of the project.

Media reports indicated NCCAR’s “lone client, Lotus Engineering pulled out” until the project is finished. The media report added that because Lotus backed out, funding sources (including money from the North Carolina General Assembly) for the project were put on hold.

Brown said the Lotus has not withdrawn from NCCAR and funding for the project is secure.

“No funding from the state has been put on hold,” said Brown.

Brown said last appropriation from the General Assembly came in 2007, which was $3.5 million.

This January, the project received its first allocation of construction funding and allowed the process to begin on securing permits and taking bids.

As for Dell, Brown said he was not “pushed” from the project.

“We worked several months on a management and project development contract and it didn’t work out,” said Brown about Dell’s split with NCCAR.

Dell recently posted a statement on AVRC’s website regarding why his company is no longer in Northampton County, “Due to the recent WRAL article we have gotten many questions about why we are not in Northampton County. Let us assure you that it was not our choice. We did everything we could to establish our business in Northampton County, but political self-interests won out, and we were forced out of the project.”

Dell’s statement goes on to say that more frequently asked questions (FAQ) that have been posed to AVRC will be answered and posted on the web site over the next couple of days.

Phase one of the NCCAR project will include a 2.03-mile ride and handling course, internal road system, vehicle dynamics area, building pads for an Administration and Operations Building and Security Kiosk and associated vehicle and truck parking areas.