Yet another building in the community is being named after Family Dollar Stores founder-turned-philanthropist Leon Levine.
Goodwill Industries of the Southern Piedmont announced Thursday at its annual Cornerstone Celebration that a 160,000-square-foot building on its $20 million Goodwill Opportunity Campus is being named The Leon Levine Opportunity Center.
Levine made a $1.2 million contribution to the 18.5 acre project, and challenged the community to match the money. The challenge was met, resulting in $2.4 million in donations, officials said.
The building joins a dozen other arts, education and medical sites in the region to be named after Levine, rivaling the many namesakes of other prominent families like the Dukes and the Belks.
Among the Levine sites are: the Levine Museum of the New South, Levine Children’s Hospital, Levine Center for the Arts, Levine Cancer Institute and Levine Campus at Central Piedmont Community College. Still more sites bear the name of Levine and his wife, Sandra, who is a partner in the Leon Levine Foundation.
The Levines attended the Cornerstone Celebration Thursday at the Charlotte Convention Center and received a standing ovation from the 700 attendees.
“We don’t put our name on anything we’re not proud to be associated with,” Leon Levine said. “I think Goodwill has a strong track record of putting people to work. My hope is the opportunity center will be a place where people can find a path of a job to support their families.”
When completed in 2016, The Leon Levine Opportunity Center on Wilkinson Boulevard will host a collection of job training, job placement and job creation resources for people facing multiple barriers to employment. It will also host offices for partner agencies like Mecklenburg County Department of Social Services, Charlotte Community Health Clinic, the N.C. Division of Vocational and Rehabilitation Services and the Center for Community Transitions.
Goodwill intends to relocate its headquarters from Freedom Drive to the campus. In all, the nonprofit agency expects to relocate seven operations from around the city to the campus, which will be just north of Charlotte Douglas International Airport.
Construction began in early 2015, with occupancy in the new building anticipated to occur in mid 2016.
Goodwill committed $12 million of its own money to pay for the campus project, and embarked on a capital campaign to raise $8 million from the community. It has raised $5.2 million and needs only $2.8 million to reach the goal.
Michael Elder, Goodwill CEO, said the Levine name commands a level of respect that will benefit the campus project, like “a stamp of approval.” Another plus, he said, is the campus needs to be perceived “as a community resource, not just a Goodwill” site, due to all the partner agencies involved.
Levine retired from Family Dollar in 2003. He founded his Leon Levine Foundation with his wife in 1980, using what he called a “modest sum of money.” His foundation is now one of the largest private philanthropic organizations in the Southeast, with assets of about $300 million. The foundation makes about 250 grants annually.
Some sites named after Leon Levine
Arts & Science Council Charlotte Mecklenburg Inc.
Levine Center for the Arts
Leon Levine Hall of Medical Sciences
Carolinas Healthcare System
Levine Cancer Institute
Carolinas Healthcare System
Levine Children's Hospital
Central Piedmont Community College Foundation
Levine Campus and Levine IT Building
Foundation of Shalom Park Inc.
Sandra and Leon Levine Jewish Community Center
Goodwill Industries of the Southern Piedmont
Leon Levine Opportunity Center
Hospice & Palliative Care Charlotte Region
Levine & Dickson Hospice House
Museum of the New South Inc.
Levine Museum of the New South
Levine Wellness and Recreation Center
Ramah Darom Inc.
Levine Ramah Center in Georgia
University of North Carolina at Charlotte
Levine and Sandra Levine Residence Hall
Levine School of Health Sciences