› "Delivering Outstanding Experiences"
Our Mission is to enhance the quality of life for the citizens of the region by providing a gathering place for cultural, recreational, agricultural and educational events thereby positively impacting the economy of Duplin County.
Background of the Duplin Commons project . . .
The goal of providing a multi-purpose facility for Duplin County grew out of an initial meeting in 1994 among several community leaders who discussed the feasibility of a meeting center to serve county-wide needs.
Additional goals brought forward at this meeting included providing a permanent county fairgrounds and livestock arena, and consolidating the four county USDA offices for the Cooperative Extension Services, Farm Service Agency, Soil and Water Conservation and USDA Rural Development, a mandate facing the county.
After several additional meetings and informal needs assessment and examination of similar facilities in other counties, a task force received approval from the County Commissioners to let bids for a formal feasibility study for the project. Funding for the study was provided by the Duplin County Agribusiness Council, James Sprunt Community College, and the James Sprunt Foundation, Inc.
The feasibility study was conducted by BMS Architects, Wilmington, NC, which presented its formal report in September 1996. Based on numerous interviews with business, industry, and community leaders, the response was enthusiastic, and identified needs for meeting space which far exceeded what the task force had originally assumed.
Needs were identified to:
- Secure a site in central Duplin County for the location of a permanent fairgrounds and livestock arena.
- Construct a facility to locate all USDA offices among these other facilities.
- Provide a multi-purpose facility to accommodate gatherings from 20 to 2500 persons for a single event.
- Provide a facility to accommodate banquet facilities, theater staging and lighting, sound equipment and exhibition space.
As recommended in the study report, the Commissioners authorized the task force to begin investigation of possible land available for facilities, and to begin exploring the feasibility of raising private funds in support of the event center project.
A suitable property was purchased in 1999, a 124-acre tract immediately outside the corporate limits of Kenansville, directly across Highway 11 from James Sprunt Community College. The County Commissioners approved construction of two buildings: 1) an office complex to house Cooperative Extension and co-locate the four federal agricultural agencies, and 2) a multi-purpose arena-style events center. The entire project was named Duplin Commons. Completion of both buildings is scheduled for the latter part of 2005.
Financing of the land purchase and building construction is being assisted by $1.5 million secured by our state legislators, a $386,000 grant from the NC Department of Transportation, a $200,000 grant from USDA-Rural Development, and an $11 million loan from USDA-Rural Development.