There were two discusssions of the Greensboro-High Point turf war in yesterday’s N&R.
The first was an (unposted) essay by UNCH professor Andrew Brod. Brod takes HP to task for for neither being comprehensive nor regional in their pursuit of La-Z-Boy.
Brod writes that incentives
are about understanding the regional economy and granting incentives only as part of a comprehensive economic development strategy.
High Point officials claim this is precisely what they did to attract La-Z-Boy. Attracting furniture companies to High Point is their strategy. However, it’s hard to categorize such a narrowly defined goal as comprehensive. And it’s certainly not regional.
Inside the Ideas section, N&R editor Allen Johnson writes:
Now comes this hurtful La-Z-Boy thing, in which High Point has taken the unprecedented step of offering $600,000 in incentives to move the company’s headquarters a few miles from Greensboro to High Point.
….Part of what makes all of this even harder to swallow is that it involves generally reasonable, upstanding people. There is no more likable or straight-shooting a city leader than High Point Mayor Becky Smothers. The same appears to hold true for High Point City Manager Strib Boynton.
While reading about the economic incentives it’s been offering up lately, it was hard for me not to write what a poor excuse for a city I think High Point is. Let’s face it, HP has no physical charm whatsoever and, for some reason, the traffic’s a real pain in the ass.
But even before reading Johnson’s column, I remembered the city officials, economic developers and furniture people I dealt with when working there. I agree with Johnson: For the most part, they were upstanding people who took the time to return my phone calls and answer my questions in a straightforward manner. The furniture executives were particularly straightforward. While their counterparts in the textile industry were somewhat sheepish about going overseas, the funiture guys were like, “We’re dealing with China now. That’s the way it is.”
I guess that’s the way High Point feels about economic incentives. That’s the way it is, they’re playing the game. They just changed the rules a bit with La-Z-Boy.