Despite sale of firms, High Point United Way aims higher

By Todd Cohen

HIGH POINT, N.C. — Despite losses expected as the result of the sale of two local companies, United Way of Greater High Point aims to raise $4.75 million in its annual campaign, more than the record-high total of nearly $4.72 million set last year.

Chaired by Doug Witcher, president of SmartChoice, the campaign kicked off September 10 with a food drive at 35 local companies.

While the economy is beginning to stabilize, United Way’s 29 partner agencies still are seeing government funding cuts, says Bobby Smith, United Way president.

Senior Resources of Guilford and Randolph County Senior Services, for example, both have had steep cuts in federal funding.

United Way increased its investment in both programs this year “but didn’t  begin to close the  gap in federal funds they lost,” Smith says.

Still, he says, with federal, state and local governments continuing to cut funds to health and human service agencies, all its partner agencies continue to count on United Way as a core source of funding, Smith says.

While corporate executives see the local economy holding steady, the sale of two corporations that had been locally owned and together employed roughly 800 people likely will result in the loss of $80,000 to $100,000 to the campaign that was contributed in the past by managers and professionals whose jobs were eliminated, says Bobby Smith, president of United Way.

The two companies last year each gave roughly $150,000 to the campaign and together employed 59 people who each gave $1,000 or more.

“Both the companies are still here, still doing business, still manufacturing, and the people remaining, I’m convinced, will do a great campaign,” Smith says. “But we lost a significant number of managerial and professional jobs.”

Smith declined to identify the companies.

But in the past year, Trinity-based Sealy Corporation was acquired by Tempur-Pedic International in Lexington, Ky., to form bedding provider Tempur Sealy International, while High Point-based Banner Pharmacaps was acquired by Patheon Inc., a Canadian pharmaceutical contract development and manufacturing services provider that has its corporate office in Durham.

Last year, when the campaign raised its most money ever, United Way lost nearly $90,000 in gifts of $10,000 or more as a result of the death or changes in family or personal circumstances of about 10 donors, known as Tocqueville donors.

“I don’t see that this year,” Smith says. “In fact, just the opposite: I expect some bounceback in Tocqueville giving.”

Among the top 15 employers that each account for contributions of $100,000 or more to the campaign, Smith says, he expects growth in giving from seven employers, flat giving at five employers, and declines at three, including the two that were sold.

“I don’t think the seven will be up enough to offset the amount of decline at the other three,” he says.

For the food drive, now in its fourth year, companies already are collecting food, which United Way will spend September 10 collecting in tractor-trailer trucks loaned by Old Dominion Freight Line.

Last year’s drive filled two of those trucks with food estimated to be worth over $100,000, Smith says.

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