Growth in health care and drug development companies continued to dominate Wilmington’s economy in 2016.
Among the biggest examples: The region’s largest employer, the group that includes New Hanover Regional Medical Center, worked to add jobs, facilities and parking spaces; a drug development and manufacturing firm with headquarters in the Port City grew rapidly; and a major independent provider of orthopedic care merged with three others in the state.
Incoming New Hanover Regional CEO John Gizdic, who will replace Jack Barto on Jan. 1, said in September that the medical group has invested almost $1 billion in building projects, technology and equipment in the past 10-12 years, with another $200 million expected to be invested in the future.
In June, NHRMC finished the first phase of its main campus emergency department expansion on South 17th Street.
An anticipated bond issue estimated at $150 million will help pay for a number of future projects, including the most costly: a potentially $100 million orthopedic inpatient hospital at the main campus.
NHRMC officials also announced this year that they plan to build another stand-alone emergency department, like the ED North that opened in northern New Hanover County last year, in midtown Wilmington.
To address hospital parking concerns, a new $18 million 17th Street parking deck and Skywalk Project is in the works. In October, the New Hanover County Board of Commissioners agreed to sell health department property off 17th Street to the hospital for $19 million, property that NHRMC will also use for parking. The hospital also plans to buy the Wilmington Athletic Club property on South 16th Street and demolish the facility for additional parking spaces.
This year, Alcami, a provider of custom development and manufacturing services for the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries, finished converting nearly 5,000 square feet of a mainly unused portion in its headquarters building at 2320 Scientific Drive to new laboratory space. The company showed off its new lab space in June, marking a sign of expansion that includes adding new employees.
CEO Stephan Kutzer discussed the company’s rapid growth after the lab tours, saying, “There are additional programs and projects in the pipeline for our location here, so it is a very exciting time for us. ”
In 2018, the company hopes to be finished with a new headquarters building – potentially 40,500 square feet – adjacent to its existing headquarters on Scientific Park Drive.
OrthoWilmington merged Aug. 1 with three other independent orthopedic physician groups across North Carolina, creating EmergeOrtho, in what officials have said is one of the largest physician-owned orthopedic practices in the country.
OrthoWilmington, with offices in New Hanover, Brunswick and Onslow counties, combined with Blue Ridge Bone and Joint of Asheville, Hendersonville and Arden; Carolina Orthopaedic Specialists with offices in Alexander, Burke, Caldwell and Catawba counties; and Triangle Orthopaedic Associates of the greater Raleigh-Durham area.