Corporations put up $1 million for greenway

Greensboro civic leaders announced a $2.5 million capital campaign today to assemble private funding to continue construction of the Downtown Greenway, with three large corporate donations propelling the project towards its goal. Chuck Cornelio, president Lincoln Financial’s retirement plan services, announced that his company will donate $500,000, while Lorillard Tobacco Co. and VF Corp. each pledged $250,000.

“It’s all really about economic development,” Cornelio said. “Greenways around the country have been successful in creating a $5 to $10 return on investment for every dollar spent. Our first obligation is to our shareholders, but corporations are creatures of he places they live in. I think it’s very important for corporations that employ a lot of people to give back to their communities.”

The total cost of the four-mile loop around downtown is estimated at $26 million. The $2.5 million capital campaign is part of an effort to raise a total of $8.5 million in private funds. A number of local foundations have already contributed a total of $5.9 million.

Susan Schwartz, co-chair of the Downtown Greenway Campaign Committee, cited the an apartment building project at the old North State Chevrolet site and the planned relocation of Deep Roots Market, each of which will be built adjacent to the greenway, as key developments.

“Before you know it, we’re going to have that northern Phase III completed," she said.

Greensboro voters approved a $7.5 million bond for the greenway in 2008, and Mayor Robbie Perkins said the city will be releasing $2.1 million in funding in coming months, coupled with a $2.8 million federal grant. The city is reimbursing Lomax Construction to the tune of $217,812 to relocate a storm sewer line for the apartment buildings, and Perkins indicated that the city might need to support the Deep Roots project as well.

“It will get done,” he said of the loop.

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