EDITORIAL: Greensboro, incentivized

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Next week, Greensboro City Council will decide — after hearing from the public — whether to award a New York apparel company a $426,000 incentive to place some executive offices in Andy Zimmerman’s building at the corner of South Elm Street and Gate City Boulevard.

Centric Brands is a publicly traded company — CTRC on the NASDAQ — that is in the middle of its best year ever. CTRC stock price jumped from .89 per share on June 27, 2018 to $5.45 after closing on a big chunk of brands from an international manufacturer.

These are nice brands, the kind they carry in fancy boutiques. Hudson jeans run from $185-$285 for men and women. SWIMS is a Norwegian company that turned a galoshes factory into a fashion statement. And the limited-edition Crystal Ice Sport Shirt retails for $398 on the Robert Graham website.

And these are executive jobs, 200 of them, averaging about $50,000 a year — which is good math in the corporate-incentives game. Because the cities of the Triad have become so adept at protecting themselves from the risks of the corporate-incentive game, there will be a clawback provision in place similar to the one that was triggered by Dell, another publicly traded company, and insisted upon in the deal with Herbalife, which trades under HLF on the New York Stock Exchange.

So it all looks pretty good except… jeez. Centric Brands turned $47.8 million in gross profits the first nine months of 2018 alone. Seems like they’re putting the squeeze on little old Greensboro for what amounts to a relatively small amount of money.

A lot of people have worked to make downtown Greensboro a great place. Zimmerman’s reportedly put $5 million into the historic building. It’s fabulous, and the square footage will rent for a fraction of what Centric pays for its actual NYC headquarters in the Empire State Building. Its executives here will live a higher quality of life here on $50,000 than they would in NYC on $100,000.

That’s the whole value proposition of what we’ve built, not just in Greensboro but also in Winston-Salem and High Point. It seems like it should be enough.