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Economic Development
Jan 2, 2019

Business is Growing at the ILM Business Park

Sponsored Content provided by Julie Wilsey - Director, Wilmington International Airport

This Insights article was co-written by Erin McNally, Marketing Specialist for ILM.

Did you know Wilmington International Airport’s campus is home to many businesses and shovel-ready sites for future businesses? 

The 140 acres surrounding the airport encompass the ILM Business Park and includes businesses, such as the VA Health Care Center, Battle House, 84 Lumber, KBT Realty, Toshiba Business Solutions, Scratch on 23rd, and All American Aviation Services. 

The ILM Business Park has several properties available for lease, including flex space and industrial warehouse space. It also has landside parcels and airside sub-parcel sites available to develop ranging from two to 20 acres. Aeronautical businesses, logistic companies, and warehouse and distribution users are among those that align well with the ILM Business Park.

Many businesses choose to locate at the ILM Business Park given its close proximity to major highways, the port, a rail spur and, of course, ILM airport. The ILM Business Park is also a magnet site for Foreign Trade Zone 214. 

A foreign trade zone, or FTZ, is like a “duty free” zone for businesses.  Commercial merchandise is treated by U.S. Customs as if it were outside the commerce of the United States. The FTZ program allows U.S. based companies to defer, reduce or even eliminate Customs duties on products admitted to the zone, providing important benefits to businesses and industries.

As part of Wilmington International Airport’s 2019 goals, ILM seeks to achieve 100-percent occupancy in ILM’s Flex Building, located on Gardner Drive in the ILM Business Park. ILM also has a goal of identifying a flagship hotel developer to build a full-service airport hotel on Airport Boulevard.

The conceptual plan for the ILM Business Park identified a site for hotel development. The potential hotel could provide lodging to business professionals, overnight flight crews, tourists and travelers. It would also support UNCW and its visiting guests, students and families.

According to the 2017 Regional Travel Summary prepared by Visit NC, in 2017, 23 percent of NC visitors traveled to North Carolina’s coastal region (defined as the 278 most eastern counties). Further, 39 percent of Coastal Region visitors lodged at a hotel or motel. Those visitors accounted for approximately 10.8 million-person trips and approximately 9.5 million overnight-person trips. 

With the downtown Wilmington Convention Center continuing to work to increase the awareness of Wilmington as a place to conduct trade shows and other activities, the possibility of a new hotel providing additional rooms may be well-timed. Further, ILM anticipates over 900,000 passengers traveled to and/or from ILM airport in 2018.  Numerous travelers require an overnight stay and opt for the convenience of staying close to the airport for early morning departures or late-night arrivals.

The ILM team has a goal of identifying an interested flagship operator to develop the 100-room hotel. Amenities within the full-service hotel could include a restaurant, business center, pool and fitness center.  The corporate-centric hotel will not only accelerate further economic development in the ILM Business Park and surrounding areas, it would sync up with ILM’s $60 million airport expansion.    

Figure 1: Rendering of a Potential Hotel at the ILM Business Park; located on the campus of Wilmington International Airport

If you are a hotel developer or know of one that is expanding into airport markets, please send them our way.  We’d love to envision the future together. Contact Carol LeTellier, ILM’s Business Development Director, at (910) 202-9390.

About the Wilmington International Airport: The Wilmington International Airport serves southeastern North Carolina with commercial air service on American Airlines, United, and Delta.  Through the air carriers, ILM serves eight nonstop destinations (ATL, CLT, PHL, LGA, DCA, IAD, ORD, DFW); allowing for convenient domestic and international travel. The Wilmington International Airport is the fifth largest airport in North Carolina. The NCDOT Division of Aviation’s 2016 report estimated ILM’s economic impact at over $1.6 billion. For more information on ILM, please visit

Julie Wilsey has been the Airport Director of Wilmington International Airport (ILM) since December 2013. After six years as an Army Engineer officer, Julie joined the ILM team as the Director of Facilities.Since 1999, she has helped ILM grow with airfield and facility improvements, completing over $100 million worth of capital projects. A career milestone includes earning her accreditation as an airport executive with the American Association of Airport Executives in 2008. Julie holds an MBA from Embry Riddle Aeronautical University and a Bachelor’s Degree from the United States Military Academy at West Point. An active member of the community and aviation industry, Julie serves on the North Carolina Environmental Management Commission, the NC Aviation Task Force, Cape Fear Area United Way Board of Directors the Downtown Wilmington Rotary Club, WILMA, the North Carolina Airport Association and the Southeast AAAE. Julie is married to LTC (Ret) Donald Wilsey, USA, has a stepdaughter, Lauren, and two cats.

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