Tar Heel Tattler - April 2007

High Point says it must be addressed
- Frank Maley

High Point officials can’t do much about the perception that the city, despite a population of more than 90,000, plays second fiddle to Greensboro in Guilford County. But they have moved to stop companies they’re recruiting with incentives from using addresses in Greensboro or other places despite being within High Point’s city limits.

It’s not that companies such as Charlotte-based Bank of America and New York-based Polo Ralph Lauren have been spurning the furniture mecca for what they see as sexier locations — the way some Durham and Morrisville companies insist they’re based in Research Triangle Park despite having only a post-office box there. Many of the offending addresses in High Point have been assigned by the U.S. Postal Service.

As cities grow into unincorporated territory, the post office does not always recognize the change. “You can be in the High Point city limits, and your mailing address assigned by the U.S. Postal Service can be two different ZIP codes of Greensboro, Jamestown, Colfax or Thomasville, as well as six different ZIP codes of High Point,” says Loren Hill, president of High Point Economic Development Corp.

Take Piedmont Centre business park in western Guilford County. Though High Point annexed it in the 1980s, about half of the park has a Greensboro address. Developers thought that might help lure tenants, so they didn’t try to change it. “Nobody raised a question about it then,” High Point Mayor Becky Smothers says.

City leaders often have tried to ever since. And after the City Council gave incentives to two companies in the “Greensboro” section of Piedmont Centre last fall, it had enough. From now on, says a policy adopted earlier this year, companies must use a High Point mailing address if they want incentives, even if they have to get a post-office box to do it.

The council can waive the rule, Smothers says. “We’d certainly be open to extraordinary circumstances that you can’t anticipate. But it would take a good reason — like if they had to drive 50 miles to get to a mailbox or something.”