Historic, friendly and crowded best describe the joint public hearing held by the Greensboro and High Point city councils on Thursday, Nov. 21 at the Guilford Technical Community College Center for Advanced Manufacturing building at 6012 W. Gate City Boulevard.
The city councils voted to approve economic incentives of up to $301,000 each to Fresh Market. Each city council passed a resolution in support of the economic incentives but the two resolutions were different in stating the location. The Greensboro resolution said: if the headquarters was located in downtown Greensboro. The High Point resolution said: if the headquarters was located in Guilford County. Fresh Market is in the process of acquiring a headquarters building in downtown Greensboro but is not ready to reveal the exact location. That made the vote for the High Point City Council a little tougher than for their Greensboro counterparts.
High Point Mayor Jay Wagner said that when the decision was made to offer economic incentives to Fresh Market, the company was looking at locations in both High Point and Greensboro. He said that since both city councils were committed to keeping Fresh Market in Guilford County, they decided that both cities would offer an incentive package regardless of which city was chosen.
The vote by the Greensboro City Council was 7-0 with Councilmembers Yvonne Johnson and Michelle Kennedy absent. Johnson did send a note saying that she supported the economic incentive for Fresh Market.
The vote by the High Point City Council was 5-1 with High Point City Councilmember Monica Peters casting the lone no vote.
Peters, before she voted, said, “I love the Fresh Market but I’m having a little bit of a hard time without having an actual physical presence in High Point.”
After the meeting Peters said, “The ward I represent in High Point has one census tract that is the fourth poorest in the state and I just couldn’t see spending taxpayer dollars for a Greensboro location.”
High Point Economic Development President Loren Hill gave a brief opening statement, saying that this meeting of the two city councils to hold a joint public hearing was “unprecedented.” He noted that the Guilford County Economic Development Alliance (GCEDA) was created in 2014 and it had created the kind of cooperation between the two cities that led to this historic meeting.
Greensboro, High Point and Guilford County jointly fund GCEDA with the goal of working on economic development projects together.
The incentives are based on Fresh Market creating 53 new jobs and retaining 248 jobs in Greensboro with an average annual wage of $86,000 and making an investment of “nearly $2 million in equipment and the up-fit of an existing building in downtown Greensboro.”
Fresh Market CEO Larry Appel noted that the Fresh Market was founded in Greensboro in 1982 and that the headquarters had always remained here.
He added that they had conducted a significant search for a new location and had some substantial offers from other areas. But he said, “Greensboro is our home. Our hope is to remain here and grow here.”
We are being held up: “Give us some money, or we’ll put our headquarters somewhere else”. More corporate welfare out of our pockets. Furthermore, they are favoring one food merchant over all the other food stores in our County. Oh yeah, it sure feels good to vote for this, the spending of your constituents money for no purpose. Pardon my cynicism, but it is our government we are talking about. You know, the one heavily in debt.
Can Greensboro continue corporate welfare. Greensboro is becoming an easy mark in the “incentive” business. property owners in Greensboro will eventually be bled dry.