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Economic Development
Oct 30, 2015

Regional Economic Scorecard Will Provide Impetus To Address Challenges

Sponsored Content provided by Connie Majure-Rhett - Former President and CEO , Wilmington Chamber of Commerce

Knowing where you need to go starts with knowing where you are. That simple concept drove the latest project spearheaded by the Wilmington Chamber’s flagship initiative, Cape Fear Future. While the chamber is known for extolling the sterling qualities of our region – and rightly so since there are so many – we opted for producing a new objective report that delineates the Wilmington region’s standing in a breadth of economic indicators.

The 1st Annual Regional Economic Scorecard is intended to help business and community leaders and elected officials make decisions concerning factors that affect Wilmington’s economic health. The scorecard benchmarks the Wilmington region against peer regions using hard data to show where we excel and where we have challenges that need to be addressed.

During the severe recession that began in 2008, our region suffered major job losses. The recovery, which began mid-year of 2009, differed from previous recoveries, with job creation being especially weak. As we monitored those losses and the anemic recovery, we looked to other regions to learn how they measured their growth and development. Many regions produce scorecards to assess themselves without bias, and our Cape Fear Future board determined that is was time for our region to evaluate itself in the same fashion.

A task force of business and community leaders examined cities across the country to determine those that could be considered our peers … and our competition for jobs and skilled workers. They selected seven metro areas based on size and a diverse mix of economic assets comparable to our region:

  • Myrtle Beach, S.C.: tourism and entertainment;
  • Asheville, N.C.: higher education, health care, arts and culture, tourism and entrepreneurial environment;
  • Savannah, Georgia: port, military, creative economy, tourism industry, coastal location and a working river;
  • Mobile, Alabama: port, transportation, coastal, manufacturing and foreign investment presence;
  • Roanoke, Virginia: health care, technology research and higher education;
  • Chattanooga, Tennessee: higher education, tourism, historic, and arts and culture;
  • Pensacola, Florida: tourism, arts and culture, business growth, port and coastal location.
Charleston, S.C. and Raleigh were selected as our aspirational cities due to their exceptional growth and ability to maintain quality of place.

The scorecard will be published annually so we will be able to measure our progress in the key areas of economic development outcomes, human capital, innovation and entrepreneurship, and quality of place. The research, conducted by UNCW’s Adam Jones, Ph.D., reflects data collected from New Hanover, Pender and Brunswick counties.

The publication is in the final design stages and the data is eye-opening. We look forward to sharing it with the community to start a new conversation about where our region stands and what it can be. Our goal is to provide a new impetus for the Wilmington region to collectively address the challenges that are hampering economic prosperity and to take advantage of our strengths.

Please join us at the 1st Annual Regional Economic Scorecard unveiling and presentation on Tuesday, Nov. 17, from 8 a.m. to 9:30 am at the Wilmington Convention Center. The event is presented by Duke Energy and sponsored by Carolina Bay at Autumn Hall, BB&T and Corning.

This event is open to the general public. Tickets and registration are required. Register online at http://www.cvent.com/d/4fqnjr or by calling Megan Canny at 762-2611, ext.  202.

The Wilmington Chamber of Commerce is the largest membership-based business association in Southeastern North Carolina. The Chamber’s mission is to ensure economic prosperity throughout our region. This is accomplished by: creating a diverse, inclusive organization that serves as a strong voice for businesses in the Greater Wilmington area; offering unique membership benefits, services and education; and challenging government officials to address long term community and business interests.
 

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