Former High Point Mayor Bill Bencini said this week that the success of the last two years in his city has brought a new energy and vitality to High Point, and he added that he and others have been stunned at the speed and effectiveness of recent economic development efforts.
“It’s actually better than I thought it would be,” Bencini said.
He praised everyone from city staff and city leaders to “master developer” Elliott Sidewalk Communities Inc. to Forward High Point and Ray Gibbs, that organizations’ executive director.
“I didn’t realized how active Ray Gibbs and the master developer would be around the stadium,” Bencini said, adding that he was astonished at the current rate of building and renovation in downtown High Point.
The former mayor, whose father also once served as mayor of that city, said 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, said it’s been utterly amazing to watch the transformation of the city’s downtown especially. Over the last two years, the City of High Point, working with private developers, corporate citizens, local economic development groups and High Point University – among others – has conducted a massive effort to bring life and people back into a downtown area that was on life support just a few years ago.
The central building block of that revitalization effort has been BB&T Point stadium, where the new High Point Rockers team plays. That stadium opened on Thursday, May 2, and Bencini said that was just one of the exciting successes when it comes to downtown.
Bencini said the speed at which the ballpark was conceived, funded and built was stunning. He pointed out that it was 2017 when the city announced the plan and it was a complicated process to get funding approval from the state and get all the players working together.
“It was a year to build it and have all these properties around it – that’s a pretty compressed schedule,” Bencini said.
People who attend Rockers games can look out and see development going on all around the stadium.
The city has also seen a solid stream of new businesses come to High Point or expand there over the past year in downtown and in other areas.
“High Point is high energy,” the former mayor said. “High Point seems to be feeling really good about itself.”
Bencini added that the city continues to expand the scope of the project.
“High Point continues to purchase property,” he noted.
He praised the innovative moves in which the city transferred land in target areas to economic development groups so that there could be some control over who the property was sold to and what it was used for.
“The only way you can control that is by going through this process,” Bencini said.