UNCP Joins Partners in COMtech Groundbreaking


 Mike McIntyre

U.S. Congressman Mike McIntyre

U.S. Congressman Mike McIntyre praised the teamwork of local elected officials, educators and businesses during the September 30 groundbreaking ceremonies for The Carolina Commerce and Technology Center, or COMtech.

"Today we are standing together in unity. Today we are moving forward for Robeson County," Congressman McIntyre said. "My dream is to see this kind of unity."

Thanking those who "dared to invent," the Congressman from Lumberton praised the high-tech education and industry site as a magnet for new investment.

The groundbreaking took place just off the unpaved roads of the 600-acre project that already counts four tenants. It is located off N.C. 711 between Pembroke and Lumberton.

The federal government has contributed $2.3 million to the project, including $434,000 in grants and loans. The U.S. Department of Agriculture presented the check for the construction of COMtech headquarters during the ceremony.

UNC Pembroke's Regional Center for Economic, Community and Professional Development and a Robeson Community College center for continuing education will break ground this fall. Two businesses have committed to purchase land for construction, and UNCP is seeking funds to construct a biotechnology lab at the site.

The business and training project will provide technology-focused education and training to attract, incubate and support business and industry for the purpose of stimulating significant economic development.

Four students from Robeson County were selected to help with the ceremony to represent the region as a whole. Garret Locklear of Purnell Swett High School, Towanda Taylor of Fairmont Middle School, Beatrice Rivas of Peterson Elementary and Hutch Eckerson of Lumberton High School.

Ronnie Hunt, chair of the COMtech board and general manager of Lumbee River EMC, said it was a historic moment that will "open the door for growth and development of the area."

"I am reminded of the day in 1940 when the Electric Membership Cooperative turned the lights on in rural Robeson County," Mr. Hunt said. "Like that event, we are here to help improve the economics, education and living conditions of our community."

Johnny Hunt, chair of the Robeson County Board of Commissioners, said the park "is a vision .. that in years to come, the N.C. 711 corridor will be filled with businesses up and down this road."

Tony Norman, CEO of COMtech said the park has made good on its promise to have two taxpaying tenants committed before the end of the year.

"We have not really started yet," he said.

For more information, visit www.comtechcenter.org or call 910.522.9944.