Greensboro city staff is recommending the City Council use a carrot rather than a stick in its incentives policy.

It was expected that after three work sessions held last fall on economic development the City Council would pass the new economic development incentive program guidelines at the Feb. 16 meeting.

However, Councilmember Sharon Hightower said she wanted companies that received economic incentives that were locating in an economic impact zone to be required to hire 10 percent of their employees from the two impact zones, areas that have been identified as economically distressed.

Mayor Nancy Vaughan jumped on the bandwagon and said, “Maybe 10 percent is not high enough.”  

That statement resulted in a discussion of just how high the percentage should be.  Hightower said she would be okay with 30 percent, 40 percent or 50 percent.

Councilmember Justin Outling said that setting a percentage could be “counterproductive.”

And Councilmember Marikay Abuzuaiter said, “I don’t see how we can require that of companies when the city doesn’t require that of itself.”

The result of Hightower’s proposed amendment is that on Thursday, March 4 at 2 p.m., the Greensboro City Council is holding a virtual work session on the newly revised “Economic Development Incentive Program Guidelines.”

The new proposed guidelines do not attempt to force any prospective employer to hire employees from a certain area of Greensboro.

Instead of forcing companies to hire from economically distressed areas, the guidelines offer additional money to companies already receiving economic incentives that hire a portion of their workforce from the impact zones and also that hire people through the Greensboro Workforce Development Department’s NCWorks Career Centers.

A company that is offered economic incentives by the City of Greensboro can receive an additional $250 incentive per job for each new hire that resides in an impact zone.  The company can also receive an additional $250 incentive per job for each hire through the city’s Workforce Development Department.

And there is a limit the total amount in additional incentives a company can receive. The amount cannot exceed 10 percent of dollar amount awarded to a company.