UNION — A fund raising campaign is currently underway to raise the remaining funds needed to build the proposed Union Events Center, and those involved expect the campaign to be complete in the next eight months.
Bob Love, Union Events Center Board of Directors chair, provided an update at last week’s city council meeting.
Love pointed out the objective of the proposed Union Events Center with a simple statement:
“To create a nice facility for public events, which we currently do not have.”
The proposed 25,000 square-foot, two story events center has been part of the city’s long-range plans for more than a decade and is seen by local officials as a means of drawing people back to Downtown Union.
At this point, the board of directors has raised nearly $2.5 million — from both City of Union funds and insurance proceeds — for the project, with a final $1.6 million to go.
That is where the assistance from First Community Development comes in. Love said the firm has been excellent to work with, and that they have set up several appointments with public corporations in anticipation of approval.
While in Union on Wednesday, First Community Development President and CEO Steve Dorough spoke with The Union Daily Times about the fund raising campaign that started about two months ago.
“Our firm was hired at the end of September/beginning of October to help organize and implement a campaign to raise the remaining $1.6 million,” Dorough said. “We will do so by calling on businesses in the area, organizations in the area, individuals and families who are supportive of a new multipurpose center in Downtown Union. Fund raising at this level is educating and communicating what the need is and how the Union Events Center will fill the need in the area.”
A special called meeting of the Union City Council was held this week, during which council voted to allow Mayor Harold Thompson to negotiate and sign an agreement with First Community Development to begin the fund raising campaign.
Wasting no time, Dorough and Love met with Scott Fant of Sloan Construction and Buddy Richardson of BMW that same day. Dorough described the meetings as positive and well-received.
“I would call those meetings a good, solid first step in the process,” Dorough said. “This campaign will unfold over the next eight months or so with literally face-to-face meetings with business and public sector leaders who are interested in redeveloping, revitalizing and enhancing the downtown business district in the City of Union.
Dorough guesses there will be several more meetings with Sloan and BMW over the next few months to answer questions and help them understand the uses and benefits of the project more fully. Then, how they participate will be their decision.
“My strong feeling is that it is not a case of ‘if,’ but a case of ‘how much,’” Dorough said, explaining that contributors will be asked to make a five-year commitment to the project.
Dorough said it’s likely that 200 prospects in the area will be contacted over the next eight months, and he will continue to present the project and answer questions with accurate and factual information.
“The Union Events Center represents a distinct change in the greater Union area, and what we’re attempting to do as part of this fund raising is help people understand this is a change for the better,” Dorough said.
On Wednesday, Dorough and Love met with representatives from the city, county and state to share their story as to why the events center is a wonderful opportunity for the people of Union County. Dorough said all were positive and supportive.
“They see the bigger picture and understand the value this center would bring to this community,” Dorough said. “They are eager to see the Union Events Center established.”
Dorough echoed what many local leaders have said — that there is no public facility in Union to accommodate large meetings, conferences or cultural/performance events such as plays and recitals.
“The Union Events Center can become an economic development engine,” Dorough said, explaining that such a facility would enhance the city and county as a destination. “It will create jobs itself, but it will also enhance businesses in this area. People will eat and shop in the area. They will buy gas. Some may stay overnight due to a conference they are attending. All because they wanted to attend an event being held at the Union Events Center.”
Staff Writer Derik Vanderford can be reached at 864-427-1234, ext. 29, or by email at email@example.com.