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January 23, 2009
Arts & Technology Center Feasibility Study Update
At its regular meeting on June 17, 2008, the Board approved appropriating $25,000 from restricted contingency to help fund a feasibility study on establishing an arts and technology center in Charlotte-Mecklenburg.  Such a center would be modeled on the highly successful youth after-school programs and adult training programs of Bill Strickland’s Manchester Bidwell Corporation (MBC).  This model has been implemented in three other communities (Cincinnati, Grand Rapids, and San Francisco), and under consideration by several others.
MBC’s affiliate, the National Center for Arts and Technology (NCAT) is conducting the study under the direction of a steering committee comprising leaders from local business, education, non-profit organizations, and healthcare. Other organizations joining Mecklenburg County in funding the study are:  The Knight Foundation; Advantage Carolina; Foundation for the Carolinas; Carolinas HealthCare System, Goodrich Corporation, Duke Energy, Wachovia, Arts & Science Council; Womble, Carlyle, Sandridge & Rice; Robinson, Bradshaw & Hinson; Castle & Cooke; and Keith Corporation.    
The feasibility study was kicked off on September 11, 2008 with a public event at ImaginOn.  Since that time, NCAT staff has been meeting with key representatives of several local organizations to learn about youth education/after-school programs and adult workforce training programs currently being provided in this area, as well as unmet need for such services. This included meetings with Central Piedmont Community College, Bank of America, Duke Energy, Goodwill Industries, and Carolinas HealthCare Foundation to discuss opportunities for partnerships and other collaborations for increasing public school graduation and training adults for self-sustaining careers. 
NCAT staff will return to Charlotte-Mecklenburg every few weeks to conduct more research and interviews, which will focus on business and industry, social service agencies, and youth/arts organizations.  This research and face-to-face interaction will help determine the unique characteristics and needs of our community.  It also will be used to identify potential ways to tailor an arts & technology center to meet our community’s specific needs. 
The feasibility study is expected to take 12 to 18 months to complete.  At the conclusion of the study, the NCAT will provide a report and recommendations to the steering committee regarding the suitability of establishing a center in Charlotte-Mecklenburg and the prospects of its being successful and sustainable.
Bill Strickland’s personal story and the success of MBC is chronicled in a recently published autobiography called “Making the Impossible Possible.” Board members who have not already received a copy will be provided one at the Board’s Strategic Planning Conference.       
Additional information on MBC, its programs, the NCAT, and a list of local steering committee members. 
Board members also may contact General Manager John McGillicuddy, 704-336-2661.

Board members are reminded that their key issues ranking assignment is due to Hyong Yi, Management & Budget Director, today, January 23.
- Harry L. Jones, Sr., County Manager

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