study conducted by Duke’s Center on Globalization, Governance and
Competitiveness found that High Point Market, a semi-annual furniture expo in
High Point, N.C., contributes $5.39 billion and over 37,000 jobs to the
High Point Market is the largest furnishing trade show in the world, attracting over 75,000 visitors to the 106,586-person town twice a year. The event is organized by the High Point Market Authority, a state-funded nonprofit organization that recruits and organizes vendors, owners and buyers interested in attending the show. The show’s contributions to rentals, visitor spending, vendor spending and visitor sales account for 1.3 percent of North Carolina’s total gross state product, according to the study.
“We are really particularly proud of this survey because it takes into account the total economic activity within a 75-mile radius,” said Tom Conley, president and CEO of the High Point Market Authority. “It’s probably the biggest number we’ve ever seen—and it’s the most complete.”
While the High Point Market has existed for over 100 years and two other economic impact studies have been conducted, the study took a novel approach of documenting the impact of the market beyond its host city and into the greater Piedmont Triad, he added.
“Beyond attracting a large number of visitors from outside the state, and the world, the High Point Market serves a critical function for the broader furnishings industry and is a key node in the overall furniture industry’s value chain,” said Lukas Brun, senior research analyst at the DCGGC and project manager for the study, in a High Point Market press release October 2.
Officials are optimistic that the study will solidify the economic value of High Point Market as well as funding for the show in years to come.
In March, Governor Pat McCrory’s budget proposal cut state funds for the High Point Market Authority in half. In April, he reconsidered the reduction and preserved the Market’s state allocation.
“When the entities that provide us with funding see the economic impact and tax dollars and jobs we generate, funding will be more secure,” Conley said. “The folks at Duke did a fabulous job, and we’re very excited to start moving forward with this information.”
Economics professor Connel Fullenkamp noted that though the methodologies employed in the paper were sound, it may not be possible to draw concrete conclusions from the results.
“We can’t compare with old results, which is kind of a special case,” Fullenkamp said. “If we went back to this study five years from now and used the same methodology, we’d have a better idea of what’s going on.”
Fullenkamp added that the results are not unexpected due to the nature of large markets.
“Especially given the market we’re in with lots of knowledge and service products, networks are ineffably going to be wider,” Fullenkamp said. “It’s good, in some sense it demonstrates something that we should have been suspecting—the way the economy works, institutions will have a further reaching effect.”
The study also revealed a surge in jobs associated with the market, alongside its financial contributions. High Point Market employs a variety of professionals with all kinds of skill levels, from builders to photographers to marketing managers. The event also serves as a valuable opportunity to connect job-seekers with employers.
“We hope that the market helps to be somewhat of a training ground so people will find qualified folks,” Conley said.
Last week’s press release was the first of a two-part disclosure of the full results of the study, with the second set to release in the form of an executive summary October 19. The split was made to assist in the digestion of a large amount of data, Conley said.
The results have already received positive feedback, he added.
"We've gotten a lot of positive feedback," Conley said. "People have been saying, 'Wow, that's a huge number.' For a lot of people the market is something that occurs. I think they'd be very surprised."