The Fresh Market chain of gourmet supermarkets opened its first store in Greensboro, North Carolina, in the early 1980s. Founded by local couple Ray and Beverly Berry, the style was based on the concept of an intimate European food market instead of the ‘big box’ warehouse-style stores more common in the US – and it is one that has proved popular.
The chain is now present in nearly half of US states with 159 stores, and employs 13,000 people. Throughout its national expansion over the past four decades, the company has maintained its North Carolina base and reaffirmed its commitment to its roots through the announcement in late 2019 of a $5.4m reinvestment in Greensboro for its corporate headquarters.
Greensboro secured the commitment thanks to help from neighbouring city High Point. The cities, both located in Guilford County, came together to pool incentives to facilitate the headquarter expansion. The result was a joint incentives package of more than $600,000. The Guilford County Board of Commissioners also approved an additional $106,000, and the North Carolina Department of Commerce provided a performance-based grant of $500,000 from the One North Carolina Fund, which provides financial assistance to local governments to help attract economic investment and create jobs.
The combination of these ultimately led to the decision from The Fresh Market to invest the $5.4m in its Guilford County headquarters, expected to create 53 jobs over the next five years. The company will consolidate its operations from two buildings into a new modern site in central Greensboro. The average annual wage of the new jobs announced will be $70,113, according to the North Carolina Department of Commerce, well above the county’s average wage of $47,955.
While The Fresh Market, whose 248-employee headquarters has been in Greensboro for nearly 40 years, considered offers to relocate to other cities, the collaborative efforts of Greensboro and High Point ultimately persuaded the company to stay in the region.
While the effectiveness of incentives has been called into question of late, local officials boast that Guilford County’s latest endeavour shows the benefits of incentives to a region when offered in a collective manner. It is part of a broader effort by Greensboro and High Point, two former competitors for investment, to band together to support overall economic growth for the region.
“Greensboro has been our home for the past 37 years, and we are thrilled to be able to make a long-term commitment to staying in this community and be able to build on our vision,” Larry Appel, president and CEO of The Fresh Market, told the press. “We are excited to be able to unite all of our headquarters team members in one building and provide them with as welcoming a place to work as it is for our guests to shop in our stores.”
North Carolina governor Roy Cooper added: “We’re proud that The Fresh Market has chosen to expand its operations at home in Greensboro, where the company began as a single store and continues to grow.”
This article first appeared in the April-June edition of fDi Magazine. The full digital version of the magazine is available here.