Furniture market clout

Leaders roll out new economic impact study on opening day of fall trade show
Oct. 19, 2013 @ 05:35 PM

When 75,000 members of the furniture industry come to High Point twice a year to do business, what does it all mean for everyone else?
Supporters of the world’s largest home furnishings trade show now have what they believe to be an authoritative answer to that question.
They used the occasion of the opening day of the fall High Point Market on Saturday to present the results of a new study that found the event has a $5.39 billion economic impact.
The High Point Market Authority, which organizes and promotes the trade show, paid economic researchers at the Duke University Center on Globalization, Governance and Competitiveness $50,000 to conduct the study.
Furniture leaders say the report provides the best picture yet of the economic clout of the market, from the jobs it creates to the vendors and businesses that benefit from it to the tax revenue it pumps into federal, state and local coffers.
“We’re really thrilled with the results,” said Tom Conley, president and CEO of the market authority. “The market is a valuable economic asset that provides tangible economic benefits throughout the year and throughout the region.”
Researchers looked at a 30-county area within 75 miles of High Point and found that furniture sales tied to the market involving firms within the region accounted for $4.2 billion in economic activity.
According to the study, the market supports a total of 37,616 jobs across the industry, about 26,000 of which are associated with market furniture sales.
“That’s an incredibly high number of jobs, in terms of supporting the strength of the regional furniture industry — almost 14,000 jobs directly employed because of activities generated here at market,” said study co-author Bill Lester, assistant professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s department of city and regional planning. “You add in the ripple effects, and it’s 26,000 (jobs). So this is by far the most important category.”
The market provides for an additional 11,000 jobs in areas such as food service/catering, lodging, construction services and transportation, the study found.
The report also tracked the annual spending of all the visitors to market from outside the study region on items such as lodging, meals, retail purchases, gasoline, car rentals, groceries and entertainment, and found that it totalled $604 million.
Spending by vendors to display their products at market accounted for $452 million, while vendor rents ($95 million) and market authority spending ($8 million) also were tracked.
The study breaks down the fiscal impact of the market, in terms of the annual tax revenue it generates for federal ($327 million), state ($123 million) and city of High Point/Guilford County ($25.5 million) budgets.
Market authority Chairman Doug Bassett said “the most important thing” the study revealed was how much revenue governments are receiving from the market based on the amount of public money they contribute on its behalf — $1 million from the city and $1.85 million from the state.
Earlier this year, Gov. Pat McCrory initially recommended cutting market funding in half as part of his state budget proposal, although he later reversed course after market advocates vocally opposed the idea.
“For every dollar the city and Guilford County put in this market, they’re getting back $16 in tax revenues. That’s just an astounding number,” said Bassett, who also is president of Vaughan-Bassett Furniture. “When it comes to the state, they’re getting back a 66-to-1 return on their investment. So Tom (Conley) and I are looking very much forward to heading to Raleigh next year or speaking to our local leaders and being able to very authoritatively justify the money and the investment we’re asking for.”

The numbers

The High Point Market statistics found in a new Duke University study:

• Total economic impact: $5.39 billion
• Jobs created: 37,616
• Fiscal impact: Federal ($327 million), state ($123 million) and local ($25.5 million) tax revenues