More details are now coming to light about The Fresh Market expansion project that’s likely to garner financial incentives from three local governments: Guilford County and the cities of Greensboro and High Point. This week, Chairman of the Guilford County Board of Commissioners Alan Branson said that the move is a corporate expansion – not a new store – and one of the driving forces behind the incentives offerings, he said, is that it’s an attempt to keep the company’s headquarters in Guilford County.
On Thursday, Nov. 21, Guilford County government is expected to approve $106,000 for the upscale grocery store, and, on that same day, the Greensboro and High Point city councils will hold a joint meeting to also consider, and likely approve, incentives for the project.
Branson said that the other two governments requested a meeting of all three governments – however, Branson said, he thought it might be a little unwieldy with all three there, so the Guilford County Board of Commissioners is considering the Fresh Market’s request at the board’s regular meeting on Nov. 21.
The public documents for the incentives packages state that the move will create 53 new jobs and retain 248 jobs with an average wage of $86,000. One county official said this week that $86,000 was an initial estimate – however, he said, the average wage will actually be closer to $70,000. That’s still much higher than usual as incentives packages go since these will be corporate jobs and not, say, produce managers or cashiers.
Branson said that, originally, the Fresh Market had sought incentives simply to keep the corporate headquarters in Guilford County and he added that, at a meeting on the matter with economic development officials and other elected leaders, he got blowback since he told them he had no interest in the idea of using taxpayer money simply to keep a business in the county.
Branson, who heads up a trucking company, said that his own company has never considered asking for any county money to stay here.
Later, the Fresh Market came back with a move to add the 53 corporate jobs as a deal sweetener.
According to Branson, one thing that’s driving local officials to shell out these incentives to the Fresh Market is that no one wants to lose another corporate headquarters after VF Corp. announced in August of 2018 that it was moving its headquarters out of Greensboro.
“VF didn’t give any warning,” Branson said, “They were out the door before we had any chance to put any icing on the cake.”
Two sources in Guilford County government said that the Fresh Market did not know whether the corporate expansion would be in Greensboro or High Point – or, at least, the company isn’t saying yet if it does know. However, the new jobs may go to High Point. One source said the reason both Greensboro and High Point are likely to give incentives to the company is because it will be keeping jobs in Greensboro and likely expanding to a location on Piedmont Parkway in High Point.