This is the week in between regular City Council meetings and is usually a slow week as far as City Council business is concerned. But on Thursday, Jan. 16, the City Council is holding a special meeting at 4 p.m. on an incentive request that has a lot of implications.

The request is from Syngenta for $1.7 million.

Shortly after the City Council makes a decision on the incentive request, the Guilford County Board of Commissioners at its regular meeting will consider an incentive request from Syngenta for $1.9 million.

For the City Council this could be a controversial incentive request because Syngenta is not promising to bring new jobs to Greensboro, but is asking for economic incentives not to move the 650 jobs with an average salary of $107,000 somewhere else.

This incentive request according to several people who spoke off the record can be traced back to the VF Corp announcement in 2018 that it was moving its corporate headquarters to Denver. VF didn’t ask for any incentives to stay and evidently the City Council was not aware that the Fortune 500 company, which had been headquartered here since 1998, was looking for a new home and being offered a large incentive package to move.

VF did spin off its jeans division Wrangler and Lee into a new corporation, Kontoor Brands, and its headquarters remain in Greensboro.

So when Fresh Market said it was considering moving, Greensboro, High Point, Guilford County and the State of North Carolina all put up money to encourage Fresh Market to keep its corporate headquarters in Guilford County. Fresh Market also agreed to add 53 jobs, so it wasn’t all about keeping jobs that were already here.

Now Syngenta is asking for incentives not to bring new jobs to Greensboro, but to not take good paying jobs out of Greensboro. Syngenta has said it will spend about $70 million either to renovate its current location or build a new facility. The $70 million would increase the tax base, but according to councilmembers this is the first incentive request they have considered that didn’t involve any new jobs.