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Larry Thomas

Duke University to study High Point Market's economic impact

$50,000 report projected for September, October completion

HIGH POINT, N.C. - The Market Authority board of directors awarded a $50,000 contract to Duke University on Wednesday to study the economic impact of the High Point Market and measure it against other domestic and international furniture shows.

The new study, which will update a similar effort completed in 2007, will provide data to help the group in its quest for additional money from various government entities.

"Our data (from the 2007 study) has gotten a little stale," said board Chairman Doug Bassett. "We believe this new study will be a very helpful document for our friends in Raleigh."

The previous study measured the market's economic impact at about $1.5 billion annually, but didn't benchmark it against other furniture shows.

Bassett said the board's executive committee reviewed proposals from Duke and North Carolina State University before recommending the Duke proposal to the full board.

Researchers will begin the study in late May and should have it finished in September or October, he said.

Bassett, who also is president of bedroom manufacturer Vaughn-Bassett, told board members he's confident the North Carolina legislature will keep the Market Authority's state funding intact at $1.65 million for the next fiscal year, which begins July 1.

Gov. Pat McCrory had earlier proposed cutting state funding in half for the fiscal year that begins July 1, 2014, but backed off after an outcry from numerous elected officials and business leaders in the High Point area.

"The Market Authority funding represents less than one one-hundredth of a percent of the state budget, but I promise you it has taken up a lot more than one one-hundredth of a percent of the governor's time," Bassett said.

The state money makes up about one-third of the group's budget. Other funding comes from the City of High Point and a showroom tax of 15 cents per square foot of exhibit space.

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