GUILFORD COUNTY, N.C. (WGHP) — The Guilford County Board of Commissioners has scheduled a public hearing for proposed incentives for an infrastructure project at Piedmont Triad International Airport that could be another step to lure an airplane manufacturer to Greensboro.
The so-called “Project Thunderbird” emerged this week when the General Assembly approved $106.75 million in a Job Development Investment Grant for “a high-yield project for an airplane manufacturer in Guilford County.”
State Sen. Michael Garrett (D-Greensboro) told WGHP that he thinks there is “about 70% chance – closer to 80%” that the so-far-unidentified manufacturer would come to the 1,000 acres being developed at PTI.
Guilford County commissioners had met in closed session on Thursday and then announced on Friday they would take comments on the idea of spending $2 million for the airport’s infrastructure. That hearing is at 5:30 p.m. on Dec. 16 at the Old County Courthouse in Greensboro.
Further information about the project also could emerge in two meetings next week of the NC Department of Commerce’s Economic Investment Committee.
Those meetings will be at 11 a.m. Monday and 10 a.m. Wednesday and can be accessed by the public through teleconference.
Although no agenda has been provided for those meetings, economic packages could be discussed in detail.
The bill for the manufacture being recruited for the airport didn’t specify how many jobs might be associated with the project, but it was designated by the Department of Commerce to be “a high yield project,” which requires at least 1,700 jobs and $500 million in capital investments, Garrett had said. The bill did state that the average annual wages would be $60,000.
State Sen. Donnie Lambeth (R-Winston-Salem), the chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, introduced the measure on the floor and dubbed the plan as “Project Thunderbird,” state House Rep. Pricey Harrison (D-Greensboro) said. Robinson said that was the “code name” for the project and didn’t really relate to anything specific.
The airport has been developing about 1,000 acres on the northeast side of Interstate 73 and building a taxiway across that highway to connect to an existing runway. The legislature’s appropriation directs $15 million for site work at the airport, $35 million for roadwork through the NC Department of Transportation and $56.75 million for the airport to use “for the construction of one or more new hangars.”
Garrett and his fellow state Sen. Gladys Robinson (R-Greensboro) recently toured the site with NC Secretary of Commerce Machelle Baker Sanders. Garrett said Sanders and Gov. Roy Cooper have “leaned in on this project.”