On Wednesday, Nov. 4, the High Point Economic Development Corp. (HPEDC) held its 2020 Annual Meeting.

Only, unlike previous annual meetings, this one was virtual due to the pandemic. In addition to being a meeting, it was a party, a celebration. It was a celebration of those who have contributed to the economic development of High Point, as well as a five-year birthday party for the Guilford County Economic Development Alliance.

That alliance was a joint venture between Guilford County, Greensboro and High Point. The alliance was created to provide a cohesive effort when it comes to drawing more business to this area.

Sadly, the virtual meeting was also something of a going-away party for HPEDC President Loren Hill, who’s been a major force in local economic development in Guilford County.

At the meeting, Carlos Olvera, the chair of the HPEDC, and the chair of the Leadership Group of the Guilford County Economic Development Alliance said that, if not for COVID-19, there would be a big cake with candles on it at the meeting.

The featured speaker was Lacy Beasley, the president of Retail Strategies, who spoke on the key ingredients for the survival of High Point’s retail businesses.

Chris Rivera, executive director of the Guilford County Workforce Development Board, gave a talk called “GuilfordWorks: Creating Opportunities for Job Seekers and Businesses”

The event was used to shine a spotlight on Amada’s manufacturing and technical center campus in High Point.

It was also a time for Hill to say his goodbyes. Although it won’t be a final farewell. Hill said after the meeting that he planned to work very hard until the last day of 2020 and then remain active in the local economic development scene.

“I’ve certainly experienced extraordinary times,” Hill said during the zoom event, which is likely to be his last big event before he calls it quits at the end of the year.

He told the viewers that the US has experienced three recessions during his 20 years with the High Point EDC. He started in February 2001, and a recession officially began the next month. That was the Dot Com collpase.

Hill said, “Someone told me then that my timing was great; starting the job in a recession was the best way to begin an economic development career because no one expected a seasoned economic developer to have many successes during a recession – much less a brand-new economic developer!”

Hill thanked a whole lot of people but he had a special thanks for Sandy Dunbeck, the executive vice president of the High Point Economic Development Corp. For about a decade and a half, he said that he has been aided by her skills.

“My intent has been that she and I are ‘interchangeable,” Hill said, “meaning that she could fill in for me at any setting and at any time, to ably represent our office. Having that kind of confidence in a staff member made my job easier and more enjoyable, and I thank Sandy.”

The production value of the virtual meeting was very high and the only glitch was that, for some reason, Guilford County Manager Marty Lawing was unable to join everyone online.