Our View: Market money in jeopardy

Mar. 24, 2013 @ 02:48 AM

The need for officials of High Point and the Triad, the High Point Market Authority and the home furnishings industry to make state government leaders more aware of the broad economic impact of the High Point Market is becoming more clear.
And it is becoming more urgent, too.
In the state budget for the 2013-14 and 2014-15 fiscal years released last week by new Republican Gov. Pat McCrory, the Market Authority gets a 3 percent cut next fiscal year, or a reduction of about $55,000. But in the second fiscal year of the biennial budget, the amount of funding support for the High Point Market drops to only about $800,000, or a 50 percent cut from the current $1.65 million in state support for market.
We understand the need for state government to scale back on a number of areas in the state budget. And we even understand that scaling back a few percentage points in spending generally across the board is going to be an approach that members of the General Assembly will use often in reducing budgets. But we simply see a 50 percent cut in state support for market as an unwise move for the state’s economy.
The High Point Market and its twice-a-year run in the city has a $1 billion impact on the state’s economy. And the impact just isn’t in High Point or even the Triad region. That economic impact extends all the way to Raleigh in state tax revenues and across the state.
Market Authority President Tom Conley told the Enterprise Friday that the Authority, the organization that puts on the weeklong markets in April and October, should be able to figure out how to deal with a 3 percent cut in state funding. But a 50 percent reduction? ... “I’m not so sure that we could function at that level,” Conley said.
Much of the state’s current $1.6 million allocation is used to help promote the market to drive attendance figures upward. But a huge chunk of it makes the market transportation system possible. That transportation system ferries thousands of market visitors from free-parking lots on Market Center Drive and at Oak Hollow Mall to the downtown market center showrooms. Shuttles also are provided on routes running throughout the market. Since established about 10 years ago with the state money, the transportation system has drawn raves from market visitors.
In recent months, officials associated with market have discussed updating economic impact numbers by commissioning a new study. The fact that a new administration in Raleigh — one headed by a governor who grew up in Jamestown — proposes drastic cuts in support for market underlines the necessity of updating figures on the market’s value to this region and the entire state and making sure state leaders, many of them new to state government, are aware of it. It’s time for local leaders to act.