When the Guilford County Board of Commissioners voted on Thursday, Sept. 19, to give $50,000 to Downtown Greensboro Inc. (DGI) to help fund a strategic study, supporters of downtown Greensboro were cheering, but, behind the scenes, many supporters of downtown High Point were grumbling.
Though High Point leaders who are saying so privately aren’t saying so publicly, some are griping that, when High Point asked the county for help with its downtown baseball stadium project, the commissioners declined to help – while the county is now giving $50,000 to help downtown Greensboro.
Guilford County Commissioner Carlvena Foster, who’s currently running for mayor of High Point, was one of three votes against giving DGI the money. Foster said she had a discussion with DGI President Zack Matheny before the vote and she expressed to him her concerns that the Board of Commissioners had declined to help High Point in a somewhat similar situation in 2017 and 2018.
“I understand that it’s not the same ask,” she said, adding that DGI’s request was for less money and for money from “a different pot of dollars.”
But Foster said the fact that the board did not support High Point’s downtown stadium project was what gave her “a pause” when being asked to support the $50,000 for DGI.
While DGI was asking for $50,000 out of county funds for a strategic study, High Point had asked for the additional county tax revenues from a large area around the new stadium that could have resulted in more than $10 million for High Point over the next decade or so.
Former High Point Mayor Bill Bencini said that is not the right way to look at it. He said that, in reality, the $50,000 Guilford County gave DGI was more than High Point had asked for. Bencini said the stadium funding request wouldn’t have cost the county a dime because High Point was asking only for years of the added tax revenue created by economic development generated by the downtown revitalization project.
One High Point official who did not want to speak publically on the matter said that this is just another incident in a long line of others dating back decades in which Guilford County shows favoritism to Greensboro and leaves High Point holding the short end of the stick.
Several county commissioners pointed out that in Guilford County’s budget adopted in June, the county increased its support to the High Point furniture market from $75,000 to $125,000, which, they noted, amounts to an increase of $50,000.
It also might be pertinent to note that Greensboro is nearly three times larger than High Point. The majority of Guilford County residents live in Greensboro, only about 20 percent of Guilford County residents live in High Point.