Gov. Pat McCrory was in High Point Thursday for the grand opening of a furniture company in what was once a cotton mill. McCrory used the opening as a platform to push for preservation of the state's historic tax credits, which will end Jan. 1. But the company he chose for that push hasn't actually used those credits.

The former Pickett Cotton Mill in southern High Point dates to 1910. It's been vacant for years, but is getting a new life. BuzziSpace, a Belgian company that makes office furniture, has turned the former mill into its North American headquarters.

As an income-producing historic site, BuzziSpace would have been eligible for a tax credit of up to 20 percent of their restoration costs from the state. But they never went through the process. Officials with the state Department of Cultural Resources say the company inquired about the tax credits but never put in an application. And with the tax credits ending Jan. 1, it's unlikely the company would have enough time to get them.

That may come as a surprise to those who heard McCrory saying he wants to see more projects like BuzziSpace, which hasn't benefited from the the credits the governor highlighted as so important.

McCrory credited federal and state historic rehabilitation tax credits for bringing nearly $1.5 billion in investment into North Carolina. More than 2,400 projects have received funding from them.

The governor's office says even though BuzziSpace did not gain from the tax credits, it still stands as an example of how a historic property can be used to revitalize a neighborhood.

Not everyone thinks the historic tax credits are all that important to attract business. In an interview earlier this week, WFDD asked High Point Mayor Bill Bencini about the importance of the historic tax credits to lure manufacturing back to High Point.

Bencini says the city has other factors – including experienced workers and well-connected supply chain – that are more important to manufacturers.

"So we have factors that are already here in High Point that we can continue to use to develop more business and to bring manufacturing back," he says. "But I don't think the tax credits deal is the most important issue."

The company did receive other incentives, including a combined total of about $175,000 from the City of High Point and Guilford County.


On Friday, WFDD spoke with BuzziSpace CEO Tom Van Dessel, who says the tax credits could still happen.

Van Dessel says the mill restoration work began in May. At that time, the company began working with architects to help with the application for the National Register of Historic Places, a prerequisite for the tax credits.

Van Dessel says he hopes the application can be submitted by the end of the year, but the process to be approved could take months.

Van Dessel says the tax credits are important, but are only one part of an overall scenario that also includes other municipal incentives that are tied to such factors as employee projections.

The historic tax credits, he says, are more a part of a higher calling than the business' bottom line.

"You want to do it, but renovating a building is not really a business driver," he says.

If approved, the company may end up being able to use the state historic tax credits for work that was done before 2015.

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