Former High Point Mayor Bill Bencini now has a new high-profile position in that city.

Bencini was recently named chair of the Forward High Point board.   That organization works to promote economic development in downtown High Point, which until recently was considered a real dead zone for the city.  That has all been changing quickly, however.

The board that Bencini will now lead has 25 members that include widespread representation from various private and public bodies that have a hand in economic development in High Point.  For instance, the board has representatives from the City of High Point government, the High Point Market Authority, which oversees the city’s world-renowned furniture market, as well as members from various groups tied to promoting new business in High Point.

This isn’t the only high-profile board tied to economic development that Bencini sits on: He’s also currently a member of the Piedmont Triad Airport Authority, one of the most highly sought after board seats in Guilford County.

The stated mission of Forward High Point is “to transform Downtown High Point into an extraordinary and vibrant destination to live, work, study and play.”

Bencini recently told the Rhino Times that the economic success of the last two years in his city – especially in downtown – has brought a new energy and vitality to High Point, and he also said that he and others have been stunned at the speed and effectiveness of recent economic development efforts – ones that Forward High Point has played a big hand in.

“It’s actually better than I thought it would be,” Bencini told the Rhino Times earlier this summer while praising city staff, city leaders, Forward High Point and Ray Gibbs, the organizations’ executive director.

“I didn’t realize how active Ray Gibbs and the master developer would be around the stadium,” Bencini said, adding that he was truly astonished at the current rate of building and renovation in downtown High Point.

The former mayor, whose father also once served as High Point mayor, said that progress continues to be made on a daily basis in the effort to revitalize High Point.

Bencini, who was mayor at the time the current revitalization plans were hatched, is very familiar with the projects that he’ll now help oversee. Over the last two years, the City of High Point, working with private developers, corporate citizens, local economic development groups and High Point University and others, has conducted a massive effort to bring life and people back to a downtown area that was on life support just a few years ago.

Bencini was one of the main figures two years ago in a major spat between High Point officials and the Guilford County commissioners – a position he once held.  Sparks flew at that time between Bencini and some commissioners, though in May everyone seemed to be getting along splendidly when the new ball park opened in downtown High Point.

The central building block of that revitalization effort has been that stadium, BB&T Point, where the new High Point Rockers team plays. The stadium opened on Thursday, May 2, and Bencini said that was just one of the exciting successes when it comes to downtown High Point.

Bencini said, “High Point seems to be feeling really good about itself.”