Parton Announces Music Theater & Entertainment District in North Carolina

ROANOKE RAPIDS, N.C., July 8 /PRNewswire/ — History was made last week as country music artist Randy Parton, brother of mega star Dolly Parton, inked a deal with private developers and the City of Roanoke Rapids for development of a music theater and entertainment district to be located along Interstate 95 in the vicinity of Exit 171 in Roanoke Rapids, NC.

The development represents a music and entertainment venue that will become a nationally recognized travel destination for our state. With the attraction of Grand Ole Opry legends, family entertainment venues such as music theaters, shopping, hotels, motels, restaurants, and family recreational activities, the project’s location along Interstate 95 has the potential to attract visitors from across the country.

The project will encompass over 700 acres and will be built in phases. Phase I of the project will encompass 116 acres along Interstate 95 at Exit 171 and represents an estimated $129,000,000 investment and the creation of over 2,595 new jobs.

“The Northeast Partnership is extremely proud to have played a role in bringing Randy Parton and the entertainment district to Roanoke Rapids and Halifax County,” commented Jack Runion, Chairman of North Carolina’s Northeast Partnership, Inc. “The economic impact of this project will be felt for generations to come,” Runion added.

Roanoke Rapids Mayor Drewery Beale, added, “This is exactly the type of business the citizens of Roanoke Rapids want and need. There will be thousands of good jobs created, and the revenues from the entertainment district will benefit all of Roanoke Rapids and Halifax County.”

Over the past several months, North Carolina’s Northeast Partnership, Inc. has been working with Parton to determine the viability for development of music and entertainment venues in North Carolina’s Northeast Region. After an extensive review of the region’s potential, the Partons identified the Roanoke Valley and I-95 corridor as an immediate development opportunity.

The anchor of the entertainment district will be The Randy Parton Theater. The proposed 35,000-square-foot, 1,500-seat theater will hosts the legends of The Grand Ole Opry, as well as up-and-coming country, pop, beach, and gospel music concerts and shows.

“Our goal is to bring quality family entertainment to the Roanoke Valley and Northeastern North Carolina that you otherwise might have to go to Branson, Missouri to enjoy,” said Parton.

Deb Parton, Randy Parton’s wife and business partner, added, “We recognized early in this process that this area was ripe for this type of venue and we truly appreciate the hospitality and pro-business approach taken by the City of Roanoke Rapids and Halifax County.” She added, “Now, we want to repay that hospitality by bringing entertainment to North Carolina’s Northeast Region that everyone can enjoy.”

“Tourism has been growing by leaps and bounds in Halifax County and we are well-known for our hospitality,” said Lori Medlin, Executive Director of the Halifax County Tourism Development Authority. “We are excited to welcome the Parton’s and invite the world to enjoy this new entertainment venue and all we have to offer in Halifax County,” Medlin added.

Economic Research Associates of New York, NY and Washington, DC, conducted a feasibility study for proposed development, indicating the project is viable and can attract the level of visitors required to make this a major travel destination for the area and state.

An economic impact analysis completed by the Carolina Center for Competitive Economies, UNC-Chapel Hill, studied the direct, indirect and induced affects of this project on North Carolina’s Northeast Region. The analysis revealed a strong impact on the regional and state economies, estimating increased industry output of $533.6 million, increased employment of 12,250, and increased labor income by $204.7 million over the next three years.

Private development partners include Blanchard and Calhoun and Roanoke Rapids Entertainment One, along with the City of Roanoke Rapids. North Carolina’s Northeast Partnership, Inc., the City of Roanoke Rapids, and the Halifax County Tourism Development Authority worked collaboratively on this project.

Michael Dunlow of Roanoke Rapids Entertainment One, commented, “My partner, George Ragsdale and I are delighted to partner with the Parton’s and the City of Roanoke Rapids to bring clean, family entertainment to my hometown. We are confident this project will have one of the most significant positive economic impacts that Northeastern North Carolina has ever seen.”

Michael Graybill, Principal with Blanchard & Calhoun Commercial, added, “Seven years ago, we saw the potential of Roanoke Rapids and helped develop Premier Landing. As developers of numerous commercial projects throughout the Southeast, we applaud the commitment of City leaders in encouraging development to take place. We are pleased to see the community rewarded for their efforts.”

Spurred by the announcement of the Roanoke Rapids Entertainment District, a consortium of marine life experts also announced plans to open a $14 million ocean-themed theater in Roanoke Rapids. The theater will feature several aquariums, a variety of hands-on educational exhibits, as well as various ocean-themed movies. “We’re excited to be a part of the upcoming Entertainment Complex in Roanoke Rapids,” said a spokesperson for the consortium.

The opening of the ocean-themed theater will coincide with the opening of the Randy Parton Theater in the spring of 2007.

North Carolina’s Northeast Partnership, Inc. is dedicated to increasing the standard of living for citizens in its sixteen-county region through industrial and business development and tourism. The public and private partnership strives to improve economic conditions in Northeast North Carolina by marketing the region’s excellent business, tourism, and quality-of-life amenities. For more information about North Carolina’s Northeast Partnership, Inc., contact Rick Watson, President & CEO at 1-888-872-8562 or visit the Partnership’s websites at http://www.ncnortheast.com/ and http://www.visitncne.com/.

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