The Greensboro City Council plans to grant an economic incentive of $80,000 to Bourbon Bowl, a boutique bowling alley at 531 South Elm St., at a special virtual meeting Thursday, July 2 at 3:30 p.m.
When economic incentives requests reach a public meeting, it is almost always because they are going to be approved.
A discussion of an economic incentive is an exception to the North Carolina open meetings law and can be discussed in closed session. It is rare for a project that doesn’t meet with approval in the closed sessions to be brought to a public session.
The City Council has had several closed sessions on this particular economic incentive, which has been greatly reduced and modified in the course of those meetings. The amount of the incentive was reduced to $80,000 and the purpose is to provide money to enhance the patio.
Despite those discussions and changes, the economic incentive for Bourbon Bowl won’t receive a unanimous vote.
Councilmember Justin Outling said that he plans to vote against the incentive because in his opinion it doesn’t meet the city guidelines for a project to qualify for help from the taxpayers of Greensboro.
He said, “It’s really just a giveaway.”
Outling said that the city is using the $3.6 million total cost of the project in order to make it qualify, but in this case the Bourbon Bowl is under construction and will open whether the economic incentive is granted, or not, and the incentive is just for enhancing the patio.
Looking in the windows, you can see that the chandeliers in the bar area have already been hung, which gives an indication of how far along they are with the project.
Outling said, “I can’t see any discernible public benefit and I can’t connect the city’s giveaway to a single job.”
The resolution authorizing the economic incentive states, “Whereas, but for public participation from the City of Greensboro in the amount of $80,000.00 grant, this patio enhancement would not be financially feasible.”
Outling said that a lot of businesses would like to receive $80,000 from the city to make enhancements to their patios and he did not see that as a legitimate public purpose.
The incentive is based on the project creating 20 new full time jobs and according to Outling those jobs will be created whether the patio is enhanced or not.