Greensboro Science Center’s 10-year plans include sloths, night life, expansions

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GREENSBORO, N.C. — A gateway to the future. That's the basis behind a 10-year master plan for the Greensboro Science Center.

The plans are centered around making the Greensboro Science Center the top destination in the state for arts and science.

The plans include adding more sculptures and art, starting on Lawndale Drive leading to the center. The sculptures are meant to be science inspired and help make the center stand out more while also tying into the rebranding of the Battleground Parks District.

The plans are also supposed to make the Science Center a bigger destination at night. Some of this involves night time lighting, but also expanding events to bring in more crowds during the evening.

The Gateway Plans also include a lot of renovations that would add to the experience inside the facility. That would include changes to the aquarium, the zoo and the museum.

There are concepts for expanding the science center to include an exhibit on cave diving called Wunderland, as well as a new exhibit for bugs. As part of expansions in the zoo, it could mean adding more animals including sloths.

Exhibits are also redesigned to include a much larger meerkat exhibit, and a redesign of the tiger enclosure that would have a sky walk for the animals to have more room to explore, while also giving people a different view of the animals.

The director of the Greensboro Science Center, Glenn Dobrogosz says this project will make the Science Center more iconic, and make it stand out even more in the community.

“To bring everything together in this gateway project, a gateway to new ways of thinking, a gateway to new science, a gateway to the arts and sciences that pulls you way of thinking in terms of life and thinking and the world around us.” he said.

The numbers seem to back up the plan. The Greensboro Science Center had an independent company do an economic study on the impact the center has on the economy. It found the Greensboro Science Center brings in 77 million dollars from operations and the visitors it brings in every year. It also found the center and the associated visitor support also help sustain 970 local jobs.

"77 million dollars worth of economic impact. That’s huge for our community. The number of jobs created, the amount of investment from not our residents but people who visit Greensboro, this is what growing a community is all about," Greensboro Assistant City Manager Chris Wilson said.

There are estimates that the upcoming capital investments over the next two years will bring in an additional 40 million dollars. The study also says the Gateway Project will support another 460 jobs and bring in more than 80 million dollars in economic impact over ten years.

The economic impact study also details who exactly is visiting the center. It found that more than two million people have visited since the aquarium opened, and people from every zip code in the state have visited as well as from every state in the nation.

“This is what growing a community is all about. This is jobs, this is small business, this is helping all of Greensboro to prosper and this is how you raise a community so it’s just an incredible announcement today,” Wilson said.

A big part of the Gateway Project ties into the Battleground Parks District work happening in the city. The plans include a gateway from the Science Center into Country Park that will help make the area more iconic. The carousel, which will ultimately be operated by the Science Center, is expected to bring in 525,000 people every year to the Battleground Parks District.

“Honestly this is beyond any vision we might have had collectively. When we talk about the science and Batllgeound Parks District, you’re talking about a top 12 tourist destination today. That’s not with everything we’re going to do. So we’re talking about top five, I truly believe that,” Wilson said.

In order to make the plans happen, the Greensboro Science Center would need another bond referendum and private funding. Over the next few months there will be a lot of work to promote the plans in order to help try and secure the money to make it happen.

“We’ve got to convince the community that this next level growth is important and it has next level growth for the community,” the director said.

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