On Thursday, Feb.18, the Guilford County Board of Commissioners will meet to discuss the county’s business, but the focus will largely be on High Point.
The New Business portion of the commissioners agenda includes two public hearings for the county’s second-largest city. The board will take input from citizens on a proposed $7-million incentive from the county to High Point for its downtown revitalization project, as well as hold a hearing regarding a $100,000 county grant for the High Point Equity Project – a non-profit meant to help minority and women owned businesses in the city succeed.
Three years ago, the Guilford County Board of Commissioners refused to grant High Point’s request for an incentives package worth roughly $11 million to help in the city’s massive overhaul of downtown and the construction of a new baseball stadium. Now, however, a vastly different Board of Commissioners seems gung ho on providing help – though not as much as the city requested in 2017.
The new grant to High Point would provide the city with $7 million over a 20-year period, and it would be significantly different in structure than the incentives visualized years ago. It wouldn’t be as much help as High Point asked for from the county but every $7 million is welcome – especially since High Point officials long ago wrote this request off as dead.
The other hearing scheduled for February 18 will be held to receive public input on an economic development incentive grant of $100,000 to the High Point Community Foundation, which would use the money to fund the Equity Project, an initiative meant to help minority- and women-owned businesses get off the ground and prosper.
Of course, public hearings aren’t what they used to be when the public was allowed to attend Board of Commissioners meetings. The county is currently taking citizen input remotely through computers and taking written input through email and snail mail.
Both of these incentives offerings – which are expected to be approved by the commissioners – are unusual. The first one is an incentives request raised from the dead while the second one is for a grant that would usually only be considered at budget time in June.
All of this seems to be clear evidence that the new Democratic-majority Board of Commissioners is very High Point-friendly. In the past, many High Point citizens have claimed that the Guilford County Board of Commissioners was frequently negligent of High Point’s needs.