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Larry Thomas

Doug Bassett to chair High Point Market Authority board

 Image of Doug BassettDoug Bassett

HIGH POINT — Doug Bassett, president of bedroom manufacturer Vaughn-Bassett, has been named chairman of the High Point Market Authority's board of directors.

Bassett, who has been the board's vice chairman and a member of the executive committee for two years, is replacing longtime chairman Kevin O'Connor. O'Connor will remain on the executive committee.

Bassett said O'Connor "has been an amazing catalyst for the High Point Market and the industry."

"Under his leadership, the Market Authority has strengthened its role as an independent entity that represents all of the constituents that have a stake in the High Point Market," said Bassett.

During Wednesday's board meeting, Bassett said one of his main tasks as chairman will be lobbying North Carolina state legislators and other state officials for appropriate funding for the Market Authority.

About one-third of the group's $4.7 million annual budget comes from the state. The remainder comes from a tax paid by showroom owners and contributions from various local government entities, including $1 million from the city of High Point.

Bassett told board members the biggest lobbying challenge will be informing the many new state representatives and state senators about the importance of the market to the state's economy.

He said 42 new House and Senate members will be elected next month to replace legislators who did not seek reelection or were defeated in the primary, and several additional freshmen could join the legislature if they're able to defeat incumbents.

"We have a tremendous educational challenge ahead of us because these new members may know nothing about the High Point Market," Bassett told the board. "And what little they do know is probably wrong."

Market Authority President Tom Conley said that cuts in state funding the past three years have brought the organization "dangerously close" to having too little money for things like marketing, promotional support and other operations.

"We need to look for new sources of revenue," Conley told board members. "We just can't keep cutting."

At Wednesday's meeting, four people also were added to the board. New members are Scott Eckmann, chief marketing officer of International Market Centers; Joe Mussallem, former president of Natuzzi Americas and a 20-year furniture industry veteran; Mark Phillips, CEO of accent and home furnishings source The Phillips Collection; and Tim Schelfe, director of interior design at JDavis Architects.

The terms of board members Lynn Underwood, general manager of the Center Point showroom complex, and George Clopton, chairman of the High Point Chamber of Commerce, are expiring. High Point Mayor Becky Smothers also is leaving the board because her term as mayor expires later this year. Her replacement will take her board seat.

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