State officials, business leaders, and local government met in Wilmington Tuesday to announce an agreement about the future of Wilmington's Air Park. Shipping company DHL announced that it will donate it back to the community.
The transfer from DHL is still pending a final agreement, but both local leaders and a DHL representative expressed confidence that the deal will go through. The town has been battered by job loss since DHL announced it would be leaving in 2008. Now, this latest news is has drawn excitement about the future of Wilmingon, and the occasional sports analogy.
"While there has been an awful lot of preseason events taking place over the past 20 months, what we're witnessing here today in my opinion, is a new football season. You've just witnessed the kick off," says state reprenstative Dave Daniels. He was among the many speakers addressing the transfer and what it will mean to Wilmington.
Officials say that the air park has generated many inquiries from interested businesses, but they would would not release any names.
"A number of them will be aeronautical related. We've had conversations with folks out of the department of defense for some unmanned vehicle activities," says Clinton County Port Authority chairman John Limbert.
Governor Strickland was in attendance, and offered a sobering reminder of where Wilmington has been, and hope for the future.
"I've been sitting here thinking about this community and how it represents perhaps the epicenter of the economic downturn that has happened around the world, across the county, and in our state. Today, we are here to rejoice in a new and better day, of recovery, development and growth and job creation," says Strickland.
Wilmington Mayor David Raizk originally suggested that DHL consider donating the Air Park. He says this transfer will mean more growth and hopefully more jobs.
"We're going to play all Four quarters in this game, and we'll come out victorious in the end," says Raizk, "At the end of the day, it is about people. It's not about facilties, it is about those people that we need to take care of."
DHL has offered $625,000 to cover the closing costs, and has also agreed to pay for some enviromental clean up efforts. The target date for the official transfer is February 28th.