05/17/17 — Convention Center halfway completed

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Convention Center halfway completed

By Steve Herring
Published in News on May 17, 2017 9:57 AM

The $20 million Maxwell Regional Agricultural and Convention Center is 52 percent complete and remains on target to open March 1, 2018.

David Lewis with T.A. Loving, the company that is building the facility, said that the pace at which the project is moving will appear to slow down once more of the work shifts to inside.

Lewis made his comments Tuesday as he led Wayne County commissioners, city officials, and local community leaders on a tour of the facility.Along for the tour were members the Maxwell family -- for whom the facility is named -- and officials with the family's Goldsboro Milling Co. that celebrated its 100th anniversary last September.

The company made a $750,000 donation toward the project in February 2016, to secure the naming rights.

"A lot of good can come out it, " Gordon Maxwell, company president, said of the center.

Ground was broken for the 1.5-acre, all under under-roof center last July. Its assembly hall will seat 800 in a banquet setting and more than 1,500 when set up for a speaker.

It will hold 70 booths for a trade show or similar event.

The center, located on North Wayne Memorial Drive, will be home to the Cooperative Extension Service, Farm Service Agency, Natural Resources Conservation Service and Wayne County Soil and Water and have classrooms and a large lobby.

The city of Goldsboro gave the land for the project. It still owns the adjacent lot at the intersection of Wayne Memorial Drive and New Hope Road.

The city is working to secure a hotel for the lot.

As part of the agreement with the county, the hotel will be located further back on the lot so as not to block the center from sight to traffic exiting off the nearby U.S. 70 Goldsboro Bypass.

James B. Wade Jr., who most recently the director of ticketing and events for Owensboro Convention Center in Owensboro, Kentucky, has been hired to manage the center.

He began work this past Monday.

It will be the fifth such center that Wade has helped to open up.

"I think it is going to be a great building, just the way they designed it with all of the glass," Wade said following the tour. "I think it is going to be something that people can come to, whether it is a banquet, wedding or whatever and make it theirs for their event."

Wade said it was the first time he had seen the inside and that he was impressed and glad they are on schedule.

The banquet hall will be a major drawing card because it is going to be very versatile, he said.

"It can be one big room, or it can be divided up into multiple smaller rooms," Wade said. "I think that is going to be so useful for so many different things."

One of Wade's first duties will be looking at furniture including tables and chairs for the banquet hall.

"We have got to figure how many people can be seated in the room based on different configurations for different events," he said.

He will also be working on all of the written policies.

"Who gets first priority to use a room?" he said. "How far out do you book certain types of events and then, of course, the price schedule. What does it cost to have a wedding reception here? What does it cost to have banquet? Are there going to be any special rates for nonprofit, or community college or whatever.

"So there are just a lot of things to figure out. That is what comes first and as soon as you start figuring that out we will start booking the place before it ever opens."

County Manager George Wood said he will continue to work with the project architect and contractor as far as getting the facility built.

Assistant County Manger Craig Honeycutt will work with Wade in overseeing policies and getting everything started up, Wood said.

Commissioners also plan to hire someone to oversee the day-to-day operations of the center.