Market funding - from cut to gain

Jul. 22, 2013 @ 04:43 PM

The strange odyssey this year of state funding for the High Point Market should end up with the trade show receiving $200,000 more than it receives now, after facing the spectre four months ago of having its state appropriation cut in half.

The High Point Market Authority announced Monday that the state budget set to be approved this week provides $1.86 million in funding to the High Point Market Authority, an increase of $200,000 from the prior fiscal year. 

"The budget also designates the funding as recurring, which means the Legislature intends to provide funding for the High Point Market Authority in future years as well," the authority indicates. 

The High Point Market Authority will receive $1.2 million in funds to help cover transportation expenses and $655,000 in marketing funds to promote the trade show.  The fall furniture market, which is Oct. 19-24, will benefit from expanded funding, market organizers say. 

Doug Bassett, the High Point Market Authority’s chairman of the board and president of Vaughan-Bassett Furniture, said, “We greatly appreciate this increase in funding from the state of North Carolina.  The $1.86 million in funds provided by the state of North Carolina represents a fair compromise between the $2 million we requested and the $1.66 million we received last year.

“These funds will allow us to continue to provide a first-class experience for the more than 75,000 visitors who come twice each year to the largest, most well-known and most important home furnishings industry trade show."

The expected funding from the Republican-controlled N.C. General Assembly contrasts with situation four months ago when GOP Gov. Pat McCrory rolled out his initial state budget proposal. McCrory's proposal would have cut funding for the High Point Market in half by  the middle of next year.

But after intense opposition from industry and High Point leaders, McCrory acknowledged in April that cutting the funding was a mistake. McCrory reversed course while visting the spring High Point Market and said he wouldn't pursue cuts in market funding.

Market supporters have spent months lobbying Republican leaders at the N.C. General Assembly in Raleigh on the state funding, which makes up about one-third of the High Point Market Authority's overall annual budget.

The High Point Market is North Carolina’s biggest economic event each year with an annual impact of more than $1 billion, providing tax revenues to the state of an estimated $40 million to $45 million, according to a study done on the market's impact.  The market creates more than 13,000 jobs annually, including construction, design, planning and logistics. 

High Point Market Authority President Tom Conley said trade show organizers arrange more than 330,000 rides annually, using more than 70 vehicles and providing service to five cities, four counties and three airports. 

pjohnson@hpe.com | 888-3528