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40 industry leaders lobby N.C. lawmakers to fund High Point Market

HIGH POINT — Forty furniture company presidents and CEOs have sent a letter to North Carolina legislative leaders urging them to reject Gov. Pat McCrory's proposal to slash funding for the High Point Market Authority.

The coalition of industry leaders, in fact, wants the legislators to increase state funding to $2 million annually - the amount the group received in the 2010-2011 fiscal year.

In the current fiscal year, which ends June 30, the state gave the Market Authority about $1.65 million, but McCrory has proposed cutting the appropriation in half for the fiscal year beginning July 1, 2014. Market organizers believe he wants to eventually eliminate all state funding of the market.

The governor, a Republican who was elected in November, has proposed a 3% cut in market funding for the next fiscal year beginning July 1.

"We have a wonderful public-private partnership, with the local government, private enterprise and the state of North Carolina all contributing a fair share of our budget," said Doug Bassett, president of manufacturer Vaughan-Bassett Furniture and chairman of the Market Authority's board of directors. "The leaders of the furniture industry believe this partnership is working beautifully and is a key reason that the High Point Market has been able to maintain its status as the most important furniture market in the world."

The letter, sent today to North Carolina House Speaker Thom Tillis and Senate President Pro Tempore Phil Berger, asks the state to provide $1.2 million annually for transportation and another $806,478 for marketing and promotion.

The transportation funds primarily are used to operate the market's massive shuttle system.

The letter notes that the two High Point Markets generate about $40 million in state tax receipts annually, which equals a return of about $20 for every dollar of state funds.

State funds make up about one-third of the Market Authority's budget. The remainder comes from a showroom tax of 15 cents per square foot and appropriations from the city of High Point and other local government entities.

Click here to read a copy of the letter.

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