Council approves incentives for furniture company

Sep. 16, 2013 @ 08:31 PM

The City Council on Monday authorized up to $162,000 in economic incentives on behalf of a European furniture company that may establish a presence in High Point.
BuzziSpace, a Belgian company that designs and makes office furniture for corporate, institutional and health care clients, may set up its U.S. manufacturing operations in the former Pickett Cotton Mill at 1200 Redding Drive in south High Point.
The company is considering leasing the 100-year-old building for a project that would involve creating 113 jobs and investing $1.6 million. Two-thirds of the jobs would be in manufacturing and distribution, with the remainder in customer service, office and management categories. The jobs would pay an average of $41,011.
High Point is being considered for the project along with two out-of-state locations.
“High Point is the front-runner for the project, but it’s not ours,” said High Point Economic Development Corp. President Loren Hill.
The Guilford County Board of Commissioners on Thursday will consider authorizing up to $113,000 in incentives for the project, and the state may offer assistance.
The company could make a decision in the next few weeks and, if High Point is chosen, could open in the Pickett Cotton Mill as soon as March 2014, Hill said.
One of the company’s owners said BuzziSpace wants to be in the U.S. because that will put it closer to a big part of its customer base.
“We’ve been charmed by High Point,” said Tom Van Dessel. “It has a great skill base. Obviously, this area has a tradition in furniture manufacturing. There is skilled labor and raw materials within short distances. Pickett is an extremely interesting building, and we see how we can turn it into something that exemplifies what we stand for as a brand.”
The council voted 8-1 to authorize incentives for the project. Councilman Jason Ewing was the only one opposed.
“There is often reluctance on the part of elected officials when incentives come up because it’s viewed as giving away something. I tend to look at incentives as investing in the future of the community,” said Councilwoman Judy Mendenhall.
Others pointed out that the project could involve a new use for an old building in a part of the city that has been devastated by the loss of manufacturing jobs.
“This fits in with the revitalization of south High Point,” said Mayor Bernita Sims. “You look at the whole base of individuals who, when the demise of furniture happened, they lost jobs, and it’s been very difficult to bring them back and get them gainfully employed.”