GREENSBORO — New York apparel and accessories company Centric Brands has asked the Greensboro City Council to approve $426,000 in incentives to open an office downtown and create 213 new jobs.
The council will hold a public hearing about the incentives at 10 a.m. on March 15.
If it chooses Greensboro, Centric would locate its executive jobs in Gateway Center, a rehabilitated historic building on the northwest corner of South Elm Street and Gate City Boulevard owned by developer Andy Zimmerman.
Zimmerman said Monday the company would lease 45,000-square-feet, or about half the space in his building.
Zimmerman, who has been working with the company for six months, said it is considering other cities for its office, but he feels confident that Greensboro will “welcome” Centric.
Centric’s website says the company employs 4,000 people including some in Greensboro and several other locations.
It designs, produces and distributes children’s wear and women’s and men’s accessories and apparel for North American and international markets.
The city said in a notice published Monday that the company would create 213 new jobs before June 30, 2022. The jobs will pay an average annual salary of $54,014 plus benefits, according to the public notice.
“It’s a good average pay rate and it’s very diverse in its workforce,” Zimmerman said.
Centric says on its website that company-owned brands are Hudson, a designer and marketer of women’s and men’s premium, branded denim and apparel, Robert Graham, an apparel and accessories brand, and SWIMS, “a Scandinavian lifestyle brand best known for its range of fashion-forward, water-friendly footwear, apparel and accessories.”
A company representative did not reply to requests for comment.
Zack Matheny, a former City Council member and president of the economic development agency Downtown Greensboro Inc., said Centric is a unique opportunity to land the kind of creative and management jobs the city has targeted.
“This is a major opportunity. I truly can’t recall a non-manufacturing announcement of this potential for Greensboro,” Matheny said. “It’s creative, design, management.”
Matheny said Centric is an example of the kind of jobs Greensboro needs to keep its graduating college students from moving away.
“We’ve lost a lot in the region. To be able to recruit and retain core jobs for our college students, our young folks — to see that we’re growing in this creative realm — this is significant and I hope we can win it,” Matheny said.
While not an exact replacement, such an office would help to fill the void left by apparel company VF Corp., which recently moved its Greensboro headquarters to Denver. The Centric office would not be a headquarters, but, Matheny said, secondary offices can make a big impact. He noted Lincoln Financial, which employs hundreds of people downtown and is based in Radnor, Pa.
Zimmerman’s Gateway Center, at 620 S. Elm, was a denim factory 100 years ago.
The entrepreneur, who has rehabbed a variety of downtown buildings, invested $5 million to take the 109,000-square-foot building from a dark, post-industrial warren into airy, light and open offices. Zimmerman, while giving a tour of the building in 2018, said he hopes it will be a hub for innovative companies and people who think differently about how and where they work.
“They could take these jobs elsewhere ... but I’ve got a good feeling this is going to work out,” Zimmerman said. “I’m just excited about this group. I’m just crossing my fingers Greensboro is going to welcome the company.”