U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx tours Global TransPark Tuesday

Oct 29, 2014
In The News

The Global TransPark played host to a very important person on Tuesday.

U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx came to Kinston to tour the TransPark with N.C. Rep. G. K. Butterfield, D-Wilson.

Foxx, who was born in Charlotte, became the city’s youngest mayor at 38, when he was voted into the position in 2009 and served for four years. President Barack Obama said in April 2013 he would nominate Foxx to his current position, and he was sworn in as the 17th Secretary of Transportation on July 2, 2013 following a unanimous vote by the U.S. Senate.

Foxx toured the Kinston Regional Jetport Control Tower and Spirit AeroSystems, then met with students from Spirit’s Composite Center of Excellence. One student, David Booth, said he appreciated the speeches from Foxx and Butterfield about possible growth in the field.

“I’m glad Congress is showing interest in this area,” Booth said. “It’s about time good money and jobs came to N.C., which will help with unemployment.”

Foxx said he was excited about his visit to GTP and it served as a reminder to improve the infrastructure in the region, as well as the nation.

“There’s a lot going on in Eastern North Carolina,” Foxx said. “We have a lot of great stuff here and need to do more to invest in the infrastructure across the county. As shown here, it pays back and I’ll be taking back a lot of information with me from this trip.”

Tom Greenwood, director of operations at Spirit, directed Foxx, Butterfield and their entourage through the facilities. He said the importance of manufacturing wasn’t lost on the Secretary.

“It was an important stop for him while he was in the area, and we were more than happy to coordinate the tour,” Greenwood said.

Bobby Merritt, director of Workforce Development for Lenoir Community College, said it was important for leaders in the nation’s capital to know what’s going on in Eastern North Carolina and appreciated Foxx’s visit.

“Sometimes we can get overlooked, so I can’t say enough about him not only coming to tour the facility, but talk to the students in the manufacturing class,” Merritt said. “He gave them hope and inspiration, letting them know they’re trying to do the right thing for this area.”

Another student, Nathaniel Jarman Jr., said Foxx’s words left him optimistic about the future for manufacturing in the area.

“It was a valuable experience for him to come out here and encourage better times for our infrastructure in Eastern North Carolina,” Jarman Jr. said.

Butterfield said the growth has been evident since Spirit first became a part of the Global TransPark.

“This is my third visit to Spirit since the announcement of their investment to GTP, and the first time I went it was empty,” Butterfield said. “Looking at it now, the growth has been monitored on the radar, and when Secretary Foxx was willing to make the trip, this was the first place I thought of. These are not minimum wage jobs — they’re high-paying jobs in the industry and this place has growth and potential and I’m delighted to have him with us.”

Mark Pope, director of Lenoir County Economic Development, said Foxx’s visit was exciting could help put focus on some of the infrastructure issues facing the county as well.

“As we continue to grow and expand, we need to have ways to get out to the port and connect GTP to the interstates,” Pope said. “We want to be able to transport goods and services, along with the employees, in a timely and safe manner.”