The second time asking proved to be a charm for Downtown Greensboro Inc. (DGI) President Zack Matheny, who left the commissioners Thursday, Sept. 19 meeting with what he’s been asking for for weeks: $50,000 in Guilford County taxpayer money to help fund a new strategic plan for downtown Greensboro.
The money will go to help pay for the plan that will cost about $200,000. The City of Greensboro and private organizations are also funding the DGI study.
At a Board of Commissioners work session in mid-August, Guilford County Commissioner Skip Alston, a co-founder of the International Civil Rights Center and Museum, absolutely raked Matheny over the coals because Matheny had failed to mention the museum in his presentation about downtown Greensboro – but Matheny didn’t make the same mistake at the Sept. 19 meeting. In fact, he pointed out that he and other DGI board members had just come from there.
“We held our board meeting at the Civil Rights museum today,” Matheny said of DGI.
That did not appease Alston, who, at the Sept. 19 meeting, said he’d requested some financial information from DGI but had only gotten a portion of it. Alston also pointed out that DGI had already started the study and had the money to pay for it whether or not the county provided $50,000.
At the mid-August work session, several commissioners said they needed more details before they could vote on DGI’s request, which is why a public hearing on the matter was scheduled for the Sept. 19 meeting.
Matheny told the commissioners that the study would help the organization attract high quality jobs and other economic development to downtown Greensboro and there are other strategies that also need to be explored, such as how to revamp First Friday events and implement beneficial zoning changes.
“We’re not just marketing downtown Greensboro,” Matheny said, “We’re marketing the region.”
He added that he would not be asking for the money again in the future.
“This is a one-time ask,” Matheny told the Board of Commissioners.
Matheny’s main argument was that money invested in developing downtown Greensboro would bring jobs and economic success that would benefit the county much more than the $50,000 it would cost to help fund the study.
Commissioner Jeff Phillips said at the meeting that Matheny had not given a poor presentation in August, however, Phillips said, Matheny had put more meat on the bones for the project by providing new information.
Commissioner Justin Conrad pointed out that the board had recently upped the amount of money it gave the furniture market in High Point in order to advance economic development in the county and it also made sense to back this initiative.
The board voted 6 to 3 to approve the move with Commissioners Alston, Carolyn Coleman and Carlvena Foster voting against the move.