‘Forward High Point’ executive director brings local experience to downtown revitalization

HIGH POINT, N.C. -- The furniture capital of the world is known for the market that brings thousands of people to High Point twice a year, but Ray Gibbs thinks the city can be known for more.

“Make the downtown area a place that operates 365 days a year,” Gibbs said.

He’s the new executive director of "Forward High Point," a nonprofit focused on revitalizing downtown.

“It will be good for the furniture market, because it will give excitement for the people visiting High Point and see what our community is all about,” he said.

While Gibbs only started this week, his team has already identified the area along Main Street north of the city’s downtown as a place to grow. Gibbs brings wide experience in downtown development, managing Greensboro’s downtown renaissance for nearly a decade. He says the first domino to fall is restaurants.

“If you get a restaurant that has a unique identity to it, it becomes a destination,” he said.

Gibbs then cycled in breweries, shops and offices into the area, making sure to keep a balance. He even helped bring about the NewBridge Bank Park, home to the Greensboro Grasshoppers.

Bringing a minor league ball team to High Point is something the group is already studying and considering.

“Something that can be a catalyst for excitement in downtowns and they’ve proven to be good for downtowns as well as for the ball team,” he said.

Gibbs says North Main Street has a lot of potential with underutilized buildings and vacant land. He wants continual growth, but more importantly, he wants to create an environment folks can be proud of.

“I want to make it memorable, I want to make their experience both in the architecture that they’re there along with the service, the food they’re eating or the products they’re looking at, make it memorable,” Gibbs said.