Workhorse Aviation Manufacturing will open a new manufacturing plant at the Global TransPark near Kinston, Gov. Mike Easley said Wednesday. The company will create 50 jobs over the next three years and invest more than $2 million in a deal made possible in part because of a $100,000 grant from the One North Carolina Fund, Easley said.

In November, Easley said Workhorse Aviation would open a manufacturing plant in the Trenton Industrial Park in neighboring Jones County. “Jones County is a small county and any industry that we can attract for Jones County is a major plus for the people and the economy there,” State Sen. Cecil Hargett of Jones County said at the time. Reached at her office, Lauren Mims, the contact person for Easley’s latest press release, was not aware of the previous announcement and could not explain why the company changed locations.

Workhorse Aviation is a startup company that incorporated in Delaware a year ago as Workhorse, Inc. The company plans to make structural component parts for aging military aircraft. A North Carolina facility will be its first location.

According to The Free Press of Kinston, On Dec. 30, three hours before the opening of construction bids, the company pulled out of the Jones County deal. Workhorse initially was going to finance the construction of its own building, but then asked Jones County to take on the expense. At the time the company pulled out, Jones County officials said the county had spent $70,000 in legal and engineering fees associated with the project.

Phone messages left for Workhorse President Melanie McTaggart at her New Bern office were not returned.

Jones County’s Economic Development consultant, Roy Fogle, was perplexed,

“We found out they were looking when other counties started calling us. We do not know what their problem was. They told us they only had $85,000 to bring to the table, but we put together $2.1 million financial package for them. We were going to let them use $400,000 in grants that we were securing to leverage other money for working capital and inventory.” After learning about today’s announcement, he planned to find out what GTP officials offered to lure the company away from Jones County.

GTP officials were not available for comment.

Don Carrington is associate publisher of Carolina Journal.