Small-Scale Manufacturing and Place-Based Economic Development in Downtown High Point
According to a Smart Growth America report, “High Point is poised to create a strong new downtown and a revitalized small-scale manufacturing sector.” The southwest quadrant of the city “is a wonderful location for these two efforts to come together.”
Indeed, the City of High Point is working to enhance small-scale manufacturing as part of its downtown and nearby economic development revitalization efforts. Smart Growth America awarded a technical assistance grant to High Point, to help the city make strategic land-use decisions that will support local producers to grow their businesses in this area.
A site visit by a team from Smart Growth America and ReCast Cities led to the “High Point Small-Scale Manufacturing and Place-Based Economic Development” report. A citizen task force and city staff group are working to implement the report’s recommendations.
Highlighting Downtown High Point’s Assets and Successes:
The report said, “There are a number of existing assets in High Point that support small-scale manufacturing and strong placemaking throughout the city and in the southwest quadrant of the city.
1. Historic manufacturing base: High Point has a strong history of and deep connection to manufacturing. Some local business owners are third or fourth generation High Point makers.
2. Collaborative community: High Point’s leadership is working toward the city’s goals remarkably well. The political leaders are energized, savvy, and visionary. Forward High Point is supporting the transformation of downtown, and the High Point Economic Development Corporation supports the growth of businesses and access to resources for business owners.
3. Building on existing investments: High Point is building off of each investment it makes for the future. The city’s leadership in building the multi-purpose stadium as the center of the catalytic project in a central location was a key first step. The planned housing helps ensure that High Point will leverage the initial investment to develop a neighborhood centered on walkable and mixed-use development.
4. Proximity of study area to key anchors: The southwest quadrant is adjacent to downtown and is easily accessed by any one traveling through downtown. The city is actively attracting entrepreneurs interested in building their businesses in this area while supporting community development and access to public space.
5. Affordability and location: Entrepreneurs and business owners see High Point as a city with quality, affordable housing stock in a central location in the region. The city is near other regional destinations and has strong transportation access through highways and airports.
6. Existing small business resources: Guilford Technical Community College’s small business development program, the library business center, the High Point Economic Development Corporation, and Business High Point-Chamber of Commerce all provide support for small business owners looking to grow their businesses.
7. Higher education opportunities: Guilford Technical Community College’s recently revitalized programs in upholstery and sewing training will help keep skilled furniture manufacturing jobs in High Point and create new opportunities for existing residents. High Point University attracts students from across the country—many of whom may become future entrepreneurs of the city.
8. Existing building stock in the study area: The southwest quadrant retains many of the industrial buildings that once housed its burgeoning business community. Many of the buildings are still in use, even if perhaps less intensively. These buildings are a major asset for any future redevelopment of the area.
Thank you to the High Point Economic Development Corporation for providing all of the material used in this article.