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REGIONALREPORT Triad

Appraising the furniture market

https://asoft10294.accrisoft.com/businessnc/clientuploads/Archive_Images/2013/06/Triad.jpgYou can forgive the folks who run High Point Market for being nervous. Gov. Pat McCrory had been in office only a few months when his budget proposal cut the state’s annual support for the furniture showcase from $1.7 million to about $800,000. The backlash was swift, and so was McCrory’s backpedaling. It was all a mistake, he said, and put the money back into his proposal. But the High Point Market Authority isn’t taking chances. In April, it said it would spend $50,000 for Duke University to conduct an economic-impact study that it hopes will validate the state’s investment.

Held in April and October, the market attracts about 75,000 attendees and 2,000 exhibitors to each event. It’s serious business not just for the sofa set but also for restaurants, hotels and the like. And while many furniture-makers have moved jobs offshore, North Carolina still claims to be the heart of the industry. Doug Bassett, chairman of the authority’s board and president of Galax, Va.-based Vaughn-Bassett Furniture, told the Winston-Salem Journal that the market “increases the chances that new industry jobs will be created in our state.” Arcadia, Wis.-based Ashley Furniture Industries Inc. broke ground this spring on a 1 million-square-foot expansion of its 1.7 million-square-foot manufacturing and distribution center in nearby Davie County.

State officials pumped up support for the High Point market in 2005, when a rival one opened in Las Vegas. There was concern that the glitz of the desert city would irreparably harm High Point Market. (A year earlier, UNC Greensboro released a study claiming the market was worth about $1 billion annually to the Triad.) The competition has become murkier since 2011, when International Market Centers LP, which developed the Las Vegas market, bought most of the space in High Point and made both cities its headquarters. Nevertheless, market officials contend state money is needed because other countries, such as China, might debut their own markets.

“Go get it done.”

— Rich Flierl, founder of Newport Beach, Calif.-based Cooper Carry Center for Connective Architecture, imploring Greensboro to complete its downtown revival, for which he helped create a plan in 2001. The city has come a long way, he says, including building a minor-league ballpark and Center City Park, but needs to finish the process by completing the Downtown Greenway and constructing a performing-arts center.

Diversity looks the same

The growth of diversity on corporate boards of the 50 largest companies on Business North Carolina’s top 75 public companies list (“Slow Ride,” August 2012) has stagnated, says a recent UNC Chapel Hill School of Law study. But the Triad had more companies in the top 10 — based on percentage of women or minorities on their boards — than any other region.

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Briefs

BISCOE —   Jordan Forest Products will expand its plant here, adding 31 to its local workforce of 301 and investing $1.4 million. The Barnesville, Ga.-based maker of wooden pallet components is a subsidiary of Mount Gilead-based Jordan Lumber & Supply.

ELKIN Yadkin Valley Financial will consolidate its five community banks — American Community Bank, Cardinal State Bank, High Country Bank, Piedmont Bank and Yadkin Valley Bank — as well as its mortgage division and brokerage subsidiary under the Yadkin Bank banner.

WINSTON-SALEM  —  Ike Keener retired after 16 years as CEO of Allegacy Federal Credit Union. Cathy Pace, president of its credit-union division, succeeds Keener, who will serve as executive adviser.

HIGH POINT — Swope Montgomery will retire June 11 as CEO of BNC Bancorp. Chief Operating Officer Richard Callicutt will succeed him. Montgomery will become a consultant but remain vice chairman of the board. Separately, the company, which is the parent of Bank of North Carolina, borrowed $30 million from Columbus, Ga.-based Synovus Bank to exit the federal Troubled Asset Relief Program.

GREENSBORO —  Apartment investment and management firm Bell Partners purchased a 186-unit complex near Nashville, Tenn., for $35 million. The company also closed a $200 million investment fund.

GREENSBORO —  Rosalind Fuse-Hall will become the 17th president of Bennett College, effective July 1. She has 25 years of experience in higher education, including stops at Florida A&M University, N.C. Central University and UNC Chapel Hill.