The Guilford County Board of Commissioners likes to use the board’s annual retreat each year to make a point and highlight a location.
The board and county staff usually put a good deal of thought into where to hold the annual retreat and now a decision for the 2024 date and place has been set – it will take place in High Point at Congdon Yards, a 1920’s-era factory building that in recent years has become a central cog in the revitalization effort of downtown High Point.
Unlike regular meetings and work sessions – which usually only last a few hours and are often limited to the most immediate issues at hand – retreats are the time each year that the commissioners get to do a deep dive into major county projects, address less pressing issues, and get a chance to formulate long-term plans.
The retreats also give county directors a chance to provide the board with in-depth reports on the state of Guilford County government.
This year, the retreat will be held on Wednesday, March 6 and Thursday, March 7.
The fact that it’s being held in High Point this year is important.
Many High Point residents and officials feel like they are treated as second class citizens by the nine-member board dominated by those who represent sections of Greensboro, the small towns and unincorporated parts of the county.
Former High Point Mayor and former Guilford County Commissioner Bill Bencini used to say High Point was treated like a “red-headed step child” by the board.
So, holding the retreat in High Point is a way of showing the second largest city in the county some love. About 15 years ago, several county commissioners suggested that the board – which holds its regular meetings in the Old Guilford County House in downtown Greensboro always hold at least one regular meeting per year in High Point. That idea never took, however once in a blue moon the board will hold a meeting in High Point.
Congdon Yards, along with a new baseball stadium and many other projects has led to a complete revitalization of High Point’s downtown – which was, just a decade ago, for the most part, a very bleak and desolate area.
For a couple of years, many High Point leaders were angry with the Guilford County Board of Commissioners because the commissioners wouldn’t agree to a request to create a special tax district in downtown High Point that would have meant Guilford County would lose about $11 million dollars in revenue as the revitalization took place.
In 2020, the Board of Commissioners went from a Republican-majority board to a Democratic-majority board led by Chairman Skip Alston, and the new board has given millions to High Point to make up for the years when the Republican-led board chose not to approve High Point’s request.
Since the Democrats have been in charge the county has given millions to help in the city’s revitalization efforts and now things are copacetic between the two local governments – and the location of the 2024 Board of Commissioners retreat is a clear sign of that.