The doors to the Kannapolis Research Center opened in 2008, thanks to the funding of billionaire owner of Dole Foods David Murdock – and North Carolina taxpayers.
Officially known as the David H. Murdock Research Institute (DHMRI), the center’s stated mission is to provide advanced research technologies to aid in the advancement of “human health, nutrition, and agriculture research.”
Murdock, however, stated the center’s mission less formally recently, saying, “I want to make this center the center of all the knowledge that you need, teaching you what to eat, how to eat, why to eat that way, how often to eat that way, what not to eat.”
From its beginning, the center was billed as a public-private partnership. In its inaugural year, state taxpayers forked over $6 million to help the billionaire achieve his research goals.
But while the private support has suffered a “slow bleed” over the past few years, taxpayer support rose rapidly. By 2010-11, state government appropriations for the center climbed to $23.5 million per year, where they’ve remained since.
At the time of the center’s opening, DHMRI officials predicted that within a decade the center would employ 5,000 scientists and create 35,000 jobs on and around campus. Reality, however, hasn’t come close to living up to those early promises. Thus far, only about 1,000 people are associated with the center.
The public-private “partnership” at the research center in Kannapolis has been a failure. Promises of jobs have not materialized, and the taxpayer support for the center ballooned while private support waned. In September, Murdock pledged to double his recent support for the center to $15 million annually, but taxpayers are still kicking in more.
Huge food corporations invest heavily in research and development, and that largely is what the Kannapolis center is: a research arm for Dole Foods and its billionaire owner, David Murdock. There is no reason to starve the taxpayers of North Carolina of more than $20 million per year to subsidize the goals of a billionaire wanting to “teach” us how, what, how much, and how often to eat. Our eating habits should be beyond the scope of government.
Because it forces taxpayers to finance food research of an international food corporation headed by a billionaire owner, state funding for the Kannapolis research center is this week’s Waste of the Week.