Pittsboro, NC – Here’s the transcript of the second part of our conversation with Sam Groce, the Chatham County County Extension Director, on the grand opening day of the new Chatham County Agriculture and Convention Center in Pittsboro. We discuss how the new Ag Center offers more working space and flexibility.
Gene Galin: You mentioned back 1999 when you first dreamed about it, we know what the building looks like now, what were some of the initial thoughts and probably not as big, not as …
Sam Groce: This building is around 32,000 square feet. The building that was being proposed in ’99 was about 23-24,000 square feet. So we didn’t have all the breakout space. We had our exhibit hall that now will seat 380 banquet style. We can seat about 700 people in there theater style, with just chairs only. The auditorium that was gonna be built … And the current exhibit hall can be subdivided into three different rooms. In the earlier plans, the exhibit hall or the auditorium, would seat about 200 banquet style, about 400 chairs only and would only be divided in two different rooms. We do have the 2,000 square feet of meeting space that we can use, divide that into four rooms. But that was not even a part of the initial construction project back in the mid-90’s. So there’s a lot more meeting space in this building than would have been in the earlier building.
Gene Galin: At what point did you go from the concept of the earlier building? Now when you say banquet style, that’s the same number of people you mentioned in the old building you could fit like 102 people for classes. Is banquet style seating what you would do for classes?
Sam Groce: Actually, there’s three different styles of seating. There’s chairs only, there’s classroom seating, where you have a table and then you have chairs on one side, and then there’s banquet style where we have rounds. Rounds of nine or ten people sitting. So when we’re talking banquet style, we’re talking these rounds.
Gene Galin: Okay. So, let’s say you’re doing a class here at the Ag center and you’re using all the space. You used to be able to do 102 in a class, how many can you do now?
Sam Groce: Okay, in each half of the exhibit hall, we can set up 144 classroom style.
Gene Galin: Okay so you’re basically almost three times more space just for classes.
Sam Groce: Right.
Gene Galin: Now, you mentioned banquet and auditorium seating. So you’re thinking beyond just the ag portion of it.
Sam Groce: In the old building, we couldn’t even do banquet style. Banquet style was just the rectangular tables with people sitting on each side of it. In this building, we have both the rectangular tables, the eight foot rectangulars, we have the rounds that can be used for banquet. Generally when you think of banquet you’ve got round tables. So we’ve got 72-inch rounds for banquet, we’ve got the eight foot rectangular tables that we can use for setting up classroom style, which those are the tables we have out there now for the exhibits. Those are the tables we have out there for the exhibits now. So we’ve got a lot of more flexibility in this space than we did in the old Ag center.