Downtown Greensboro asked to ‘Talk Up’ GPAC

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GREENSBORO, N.C. -- "Talk it up." That's what Downtown Greensboro Incorporated wants downtown business owners to do in order to swing public opinion in favor of a proposed downtown performing arts center.

DGI president and CEO Ed Wolverton told a group at the Triad Stage on Thursday they'd be crucial to getting the facility approved and built.

"Our charge is really to describe the community why the performing arts center is downtown," Wolverton said. "The biggest obstacle is going to be the funding."

By funding, Wolverton means a mix of private and public investments needed to make up the proposed $50 million cost to the facility. Private investors need to know the city is on board, and at least two councilmembers said they need to know citizens in their districts are on board.

From the public perspective, that could mean citizens' approval of a bond issue or a tax increase in the future. That is where people like Charis Rose at The Loaf Bakery come in.

"People want to have this performing arts center, but they don't necessarily want to pay for it," Rose said.

She thinks it will be easy to convince her customers, though, because she predicts the economic impact of a performing arts center downtown will provide a great return on the initial investment that a tax increase or bond issue would represent.

"It won't be as hard to think about paying those taxes in order to get this going if you feel like you're not underemployed," Rose said.

According to DGI, past big projects in downtown Greensboro have overcome initial disapproval to become successes. In those cases, $13 in private money came in for every $1 of investment by the city.

Downtown business owner Robin Davis said it's short-sighted for the public to fear spending money now. She plans to talk that up with her customers.

"I'm going to say get behind this good idea. Remember the baseball stadium and how great it's turned out and how much opposition it had? It's the same thing (here)," Davis said.