The City of High Point is putting to good use a technical assistance grant it was awarded from Smart Growth America to promote small-scale manufacturing in that city.

Earlier this week, the final report regarding the grant was presented to the High Point City Council and to others involved with putting the grant to work.  That grant doesn’t provide the city any money but it does offer valuable consultant and support services.

At the High Point City Council meeting on Thursday, July 11, the council voted to accept the report and to instruct staff to move forward with the recommendations.   The report goes into detail on five new initiatives to advance the city’s cause:

“1. Create a more comprehensive vision for economic development in the southwest quadrant of the Core City.

“2. Invest in an anchor space or catalyst project to establish the vision for the southwest quadrant.  The city’s leadership in property development will be vital for the success of the southwest quadrant to ensure the vision is achieved and that the priority outcomes are central to any investment in the area.

“3. Partner with the nearby residential neighborhoods and regional service providers to help more local residents become entrepreneurs and launch new businesses.

“4. Launch a city-wide program to promote, train, and help scale existing small-scale manufacturing businesses.

“5. Remove policy barriers and create incentives for innovation that promotes more business launches in High Point.”

High Point is one of six cities in the country that won the “technical assistance grants” to help manufacturers put unused and underused buildings back in business through the use of small-scale manufacturing operations.

According to Sandy Dunbeck, the executive vice president of the High Point Economic Development Corp., it wasn’t an easy grant to get.

“We had applied a year previous to this one and had not been accepted,” she said soon after the grant was announced near the beginning of the year, “but this year we reapplied and strengthened our application a bit, and, with all the work going on downtown, we were awarded the grant.”

In the first week of February, representatives of Recast Cities – consultants funded by the Smart Growth grant – came to High Point to meet with economic development officials, property owners and interested members of the public.  Recast Cities also met with the board of the High Point Economic Development Corp.

Smart Growth America is a non-profit based in Washington, DC that works with elected officials, property owners, real estate developers, chambers of commerce and urban planning professionals to improve communities through smart development.  One aspect of that mission is putting unused space to work with manufacturing operations that don’t require giant overhead costs or a large number of employees.

Though High Point doesn’t get any money with the grant, it does get a great deal of free expertise and assistance in the attempt to transform financially challenged sections of downtown into productive spaces.

The July 11 report to the City Council concludes, “High Point is poised to create a strong new downtown and a revitalized small-scale manufacturing sector.  The southwest quadrant of the Core City is a wonderful location for these two efforts to come together.  The area is a starting point to understand how to bring these outcomes together and can serve as a model project for other neighborhoods in the Core City.”

The report adds, “Through continued efforts to build partnerships, direct engagement with all different types of small business owners, and focused city investments on targeted outcomes, High Point will support a vibrant set of neighborhoods where people come together with good paying jobs.”