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Economic Development
Nov 29, 2017

A Strategic Plan for Community Prosperity

Sponsored Content provided by Natalie English - President & CEO, Wilmington Chamber of Commerce

One of the most perceptive quotes that I’ve ever heard is: Planning is bringing the future into the present so that you can do something about it now. – Alan Lakein
How can one not extoll the virtues of strategic planning after considering that description of the process?
This is particularly true for an organization tasked with bringing positive influence on a range of business and community issues that span all levels of social class and size of business.
As a chamber, not only are we communicating our goals within our own organization – and the actions needed to achieve those goals – we are also defining our purpose and the path we intend to take to a diverse membership, elected leaders and the community at large.
So, I was thrilled to harness the experience and wisdom of our board of directors in identifying how we define future success, and that they began their recent strategic planning retreat by crafting a new vision statement: We position our community for prosperity by cultivating business growth.
Those 10 words form the basis of our new three-year strategic plan. To establish a path to achieve the redefined strategic vision, chamber leadership and staff identified areas of opportunity that will aid economic development, strengthen area partnerships and increase promotion of the region as a great place to do business.
The direction provided by the plan will enable us to better serve you and our region by focusing on several critical success strategies:

  • Promote the region and assets within
  • Be the effective business advocate
  • Serve as the regional facilitator
  • Foster and develop leaders of the chamber community and elected bodies
  • Ensure workforce and talent is well-developed and trained
Capitalizing on several perceived strengths are at the heart of the plan, including the chamber’s standing as the voice of business, our positive influence politically and with public policy/advocacy efforts, and a board of directors that is attune to issues affecting business.
The plan stresses key areas such as serving as the lead advocate for the business community and being a regional facilitator, as well as expanding ongoing initiatives like the Choose Cape Fear regional marketing campaign and creating new ways to develop workforce and our pool of chamber and community leaders.
In addition, the plan will be valuable in determining the best way to employ resources and our volunteer talent, while we ensure a solid financial footing for the chamber.
Each critical success strategy includes tactics that will be implemented to achieve tangible results. 
Some of those tactics include:
  • Leading quarterly meetings of economic developers and chamber executives regarding policy and infrastructure
  • Studying regional chamber models relating to umbrella organizations
  • Continued implementation of the Choose Cape Fear regional economic development marketing initiative and keeping area economic developers engaged in messaging
  • Convening CEO roundtables on workforce talent
  • Developing diversity and inclusion programming to support employer efforts
I look forward to working with our community partners, the board and staff to bring life to the critical success strategies defined in the plan, and to introducing initiatives that leverage the solid foundation the chamber has established through its advocacy efforts and our work to market the region as the place to do business.
Chamber chairman Charlie Mattox has said that aspiring to take the Wilmington chamber and our community to greater heights begins with knowing where we want to go. With the chamber’s new strategic plan and the defined goals and success measures, we have the target and the path to get there.
To review the Strategic Plan and learn more about the goals that have been identified to encourage economic development in the region, please follow this link.

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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