Gov. Mike Easley just announced that he is fast-tracking more than $700 million in capital improvement projects in North Carolina, including $105.8 million for East Carolina University's School of Dentistry as well as its Family Medicine and Geriatric Center.  Easley's announcement will allow ECU to get an unexpected jump start with the $69 million for the dental school and the $36.8 million for the family medicine center.

The two projects had been approved by the Legislature in its last session, but funding had been frozen. This announcement unfreezes the funds, which were expected to unavailable until sometime in 2009, according to ECU spokesman John Durham.

Easley said going to the market now with the $700 million in statewide capital improvement projects is cost effective because interest rates and building costs are low.

Economists estimate that, for each dollar spent on a construction project, $2.28 is pumped into the state’s economy, and every $1 million spent on a project results in 36 new jobs. Easley’s office says that means these projects will produce 26,000 new jobs.