Cooper speaks at GTP about DIDI

Cooper speaks at GTP about DIDI

N.C. Gov. Roy Cooper addresses a crowd Tuesday morning at the Global TransPark. Photo by Bryan Hanks / Neuse News

Gov. Roy Cooper has spent a lot of time in Lenoir County the past few weeks – speaking at LCC about education assistance for students and addressing Hurricane Matthew relief efforts in downtown.

“Eastern North Carolina is my home and it’s where my heart is … I love the people and I love what’s happening here,” Cooper said during his opening remarks Tuesday morning at the Global TransPark. The governor was at the GTP to talk about the North Carolina Defense Industry Diversification Initiative (DIDI).

DIDI was formed by the governor’s office to offset the loss of money and jobs because of downsizing by the Department of Defense in North Carolina. The initiative maps a strategy that capitalizes on the competitive advantages of North Carolina’s defense industry and to develop response protocols to those defense-reliant industries at risk or that have the potential to expand beyond their defense contracts.

“Clearly, our military plays a significant role in that effort for North Carolina,” Cooper said. “Not only because of the prosperity it brings to our state but because of what it does for the defense of our country.”

Cooper announced Tuesday DIDI has received $3 million from the DOD, in addition to $2 million received in 2017.

“This $3 million comes because the first $2 million that was awarded last year has seen successes,” Cooper said.

Former N.C. House Democratic leader Philip Baddour Jr., a Goldsboro native, extolled the values of DIDI and how it will help military communities throughout not just Kinston and Eastern North Carolina, but the entire Tar Heel State itself.

“Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, the Marine Corps Air Station at Cherry Point, Camp Lejeune and Fort Bragg are the lifeblood of the communities where they are located and indeed, of Eastern North Carolina,” Baddour said. “They have more of an impact for all of North Carolina then I think we generally state. We should state it more.”

A virtual who’s who of Lenoir County officials attended the meeting, including N.C. Rep. George Graham, Lenoir County Sheriff Ronnie Ingram, Kinston Mayor Don Hardy, city council members Felicia Solomon and Sammy Aiken, county commissioners J. Mac Daughety, Linda Rouse Sutton and Reuben Davis, GTP Executive Director Allen Thomas and prominent local businessmen Rob Bizzell and John Marston.

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