On Thursday, May 16, Guilford County Manager Marty Lawing handed over his budget proposal for fiscal 2019-2020, and one part of that budget calls for the county to spend $765,000 in taxpayer money on area economic development efforts.

Advocates of doing so say it’s some of the best money county government spends each year because it brings businesses and jobs to the area, but others say it’s a stretch to argue that the part of that money that goes to area arts groups and music festivals is really for economic development.

The Guilford County Board of Commissioners will have the final say on the 2019-2020 budget, however, in Lawing’s proposed budget, the funding for economic development goes like this…

The Guilford County Economic Development Alliance (GCEDA)– a collective of Greensboro, High Point and Guilford County that was started in 2015 – would get $100,000, as would the Greensboro Chamber of Commerce.

In the proposed budget, Downtown Greensboro Inc. would get $40,000, while East Market Street NOW would get $35,000.  Both of those groups are meant to promote economic development in downtown Greensboro.

Other groups called for to get taxpayer money in the manager’s proposed budget are the Guilford County Tourism Development Authority ($40,000), the High Point Economic Development Corp. ($100,000), the High Point Market Authority ($75,000), the Piedmont Triad Film Commission ($25,000), the Southwest Renewal Foundation of High Point ($25,000) and the Welfare Reform Liaison Project, Inc. ($25,000).

Some Guilford County commissioners say each year that they wonder whether it should be the job of county government to help fund arts groups, but the practice in Guilford County over the years has been to label those groups as “economic development” and put them in the budget.

The manager’s budget calls for the county to fund the African-American Atelier ($50,000), the Friends of John Coltrane ($20,000), the High Point Arts Council ($50,000), the United Arts Council of Greensboro ($55,000) and the North Carolina Folk Festival ($25,000).