Call their bluff

So while the Guilford County commissioners were stingy with the school system, they were in a more generous mood with Polo.com, offering up $650,000 in economic incentives.

It was a somewhat subdued discussion, as commissioners Billy Yow and Steve Arnold, the most vocal opponents of economic incentives, stayed out of the debate. The most interesting exchange was between Mike Winstead and a Polo.com official. Winstead asked him point-blank if Polo would reconsider locating in High Point if they didn’t get the incentives.

“We would have to re-think our business plan,” the official said.

Not that it would have made any difference in the 8-3 vote, but I was disappointed that Winstead went ahead and voted for the incentives. I was hoping he would, personally at least, would call Polo’s bluff. After securing $2.2 million in incentives from High Point, not to mention a grand public welcome, it would be fun to see Polo pull out of the deal over a mere $650,000.

But wait a minute. Here’s an interesting passage in this Business Journal article on yesterday’s High Point Economic Development meeting:

Developer Robin Team of Carolina Investment Properties and Ralph Lauren Vice President David Rush discussed specifics of the deal at the meeting, which was held Thursday afternoon at Guilford Technical Community College’s Jamestown campus.

Team, who is developing the site at Kivett Drive Industrial Park, said flexibility will be a key if the project goes forward as hoped. The Polo.com building is slated to be 360,000 square feet, but would be able to be expanded to about 900,000 square feet to allow for future growth, he said.

Both Team and Rush stressed that the building would be adaptable to other users. If Polo.com ever needs to move, he said, the structure won’t be a “white elephant” that no other companies would be interested in.

Wait a minute. If Polo needs to move? Where? Five miles down the road to Greensboro?

Call me paranoid, but is it not odd that developers are addressing the possibility of Polo relocating before they’ve even set up shop?

Sam Hieb / Contributing Editor

Sam Hieb is freelance journalist from Greensboro, North Carolina. He is a contributing editor for Carolina Journal and for Piedmont Publius, a blog that focuses on political a...

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