Monroe City Council Approves $1 Million Donation From Dowd Foundation

MONROE, NC — The Monroe City Council unanimously approved a $1 million commitment from the Dowd Foundation to the Get Centered capital campaign for the Center Theatre and the Monroe Science Center Tuesday night.

“We are thrilled Charlotte Pipe and Foundry and the Dowd Foundation have stepped forward in such an extraordinary way. This gift also represents a great way to announce the capital campaign, which we will be launching in the fall,” said Mayor Bobby Kilgore. “Charlotte Pipe is such an amazing corporate partner, and we are proud of their level of commitment to the community and to their employees.”

The Get Centered campaign is a $2.5 million effort to raise private dollars to complete the funding of two Downtown Monroe attractions: the existing Center Theatre is being transformed into a regional performing arts center, and a new children’s science center is currently under construction at the site of the former Gambles grocery store. Both projects are scheduled to open their doors in 2020 and are planned as catalysts to the downtown’s revitalization effort over the next decade.

In recognition of the support of Charlotte Pipe and Foundry and the Dowd Foundation, the Center Theatre will be named the Dowd Center Theatre of Monroe. This donation will also fund an exhibit at the Monroe Science Center that will showcase Charlotte Pipe’s manufacturing assets and capabilities in Monroe.

Chad Griffin, campaign vice-chair and Senior Vice-President of Charlotte Pipe and Foundry’s Plastics Division, said, “As someone who grew up here in Union County, I am both excited and proud the Company could make this gift. A downtown full of educational and entertainment options will attract new restaurants and other businesses, benefiting not only our Company’s 500-plus employees but also all the citizens of Monroe and Union County. When these projects are complete, we will all be able to find plenty of reasons to spend more time and resources here in Union County.”

The combined projects represent a nearly $10 million investment in the downtown by both the City of Monroe and the Monroe Tourism Development Authority. The $2 million-plus in private funds raised will be used to acquire the hands-on exhibits that will fill the new Monroe Science Center and to help underwrite the first several years of programming at the theatre.

“I know all of the City Council members join me in thanking Charlotte Pipe and the Dowd Foundation for their generous support,” said Kilgore. “Both these projects can succeed only through a combination of private and public support. The City can’t to do it all and keep taxes low. Likewise, the private sector can’t take on such highly public projects by itself.”

Additional Information:
The Center Theatre sits on Main Street in Historic Downtown Monroe. The building was constructed in late 1939 and opened in early 1940. The new design adds a large meeting/pre-function area as well as larger bathrooms, dressing rooms, a catering kitchen, and storage. The theatre will have roughly 560 seats and will include a balcony level. Plans are for the theatre to be used for a variety of local, regional, and national productions of music, spoken word, and dance. It will be owned, operated, and staffed by City of Monroe personnel.
The Monroe Science Center sits between Franklin and Windsor streets across from the main branch of the Union County Public Library. The center will feature interactive exhibits and activities mostly geared to preschool, elementary, and middle school-aged children. The center exhibits will focus on four main areas that are prominent in Union County: aerospace, agriculture, manufacturing, and health care. The renovated Gambles grocery store has nearly 20,000 square feet of space and will also have space for corporate and private events. It will be owned, operated, and staffed by City of Monroe personnel.