(Oct. 17, 10:53 a.m.) The development of one of the world’s leading produce and nutritional research centers takes a step forward Oct. 20 with the grand opening of the North Carolina Research Campus in Kannapolis, N.C.

The major force in building the campus is Los Angeles-based Dole Food Co. Inc. and its owner and chairman, David Murdock. It was Murdock who purchased the land on which the campus is being developed, said Marty Ordman, vice president of marketing and communications for Dole. The company’s involvement will be on-going.

“Dole will have a presence with the North Carolina State Fruit and Vegetable Science Institute,” Ordman said. “The institute is attempting to identify and improve the nutritional characteristics of fruits and vegetables and to develop new products that deliver nutritionally superior produce as well as evaluating new technologis for food safety, shelf life and other areas.”

Those scheduled to join Murdock at the grand opening include North Carolina senators Elizabeth Dole and Richard Burr and Erskine Bowles, president of the University of North Carolina.

The faculties and students from eight North Carolina universities will participate in the research projects conducted on the campus.

Kannopolis, a former textile manufacturing center, has been affected by importation of offshore textiles, forcing hundreds of layoffs in the area. The combination of the academic research, commercial businesses and other scientific applications is expected to employ thousands on and around the campus, Ordman said.

“The people of Kannapolis are very excited,” he said. “The city is kind of reinventing itself with the new jobs that will be created.”