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Business Alliance Works To Broaden Its Reach

By Cece Nunn, posted Feb 5, 2016
When lawmakers return to Raleigh for the state legislature’s short session in April, Tyler Newman will be there.

He’s the new president and CEO of Business Alliance for a Sound Economy (BASE), an advocacy organization founded in 2003 to encourage investment in the region. His presence when the N.C. General Assembly convenes April 25 and throughout the session will help accomplish BASE’s goals, said Brian Eckel, the 2016 chairman of BASE's board of directors.

“We have a regional coverage area which focuses on Brunswick, Pender, New Hanover and Onslow Counties. Almost all of those are in the process of updating their long term land use plans or transportation plans or economic development strategies. We are tracking regional, state, coastal and federal issues. When the legislature goes in session in April, Tyler Newman will be there, because it is critically important to our region of the state,” said Eckel, in an email. "The important thing is to be proactively engaged in all of these arenas, working strategically on the front end of issues critical to the future of Southeastern North Carolina.”

Newman has a lot of experience working with the state and municipalities on lawmaking issues. Before starting his job as president and CEO of BASE on Jan. 1, Newman was the organization's interim CEO and senior governmental affairs director. He was also previously the city of Wilmington's legislative liaison and regulatory affairs director of the Home Builders Association of Georgia. A New Bern native, Newman graduated from the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill.

“I’m looking forward to leading the organization,” Newman said in a January news release. “With the Wilmington Chamber of Commerce and Brunswick Association of Realtors, we landed two new major partners in 2015. We are planning to carry that momentum into 2016 by continuing to focus on the policy issues that impact investment in our region.”

The organization has also been aiming to diversify the group of people involved in its efforts, adding new board members in addition to partnering with the Brunswick County Realtors group and the Chamber.

“Our objective has been to build the organization to be what the name says: a business alliance. We have a tremendous partnership with the [Wilmington-Cape Fear] Home Builders Association but bringing on new partners like the Chamber and some of our new board members have been first steps in that initiative to broaden the reach,” said Eckel, who is also founder of real estate firm Cape Fear Commercial and a partner in GHK Cape Fear Development.

“Our goal is to have a more diverse group of business interests who support our mission of promoting economic investment and prosperity in Southeastern North Carolina," he continued. "Our goals focus on sustainable development of the community which will protect and improve our quality of life. At the same time, we have to have predictable and transparent regulation which will enable smart and efficient growth.” 

In addition to Eckel as chairman and Newman, BASE’s board of directors this year also includes: vice chairman Hill Rogers, Cameron Management; Hiram Williams, Action Construction; Heath Clark, Bill Clark Homes; Jeff Hilton, Southern Homebuilders: Dave Spetrino, Plantation Building Corp.; Hal Kitchin, McGuireWoods; Wilson Sherrill, Fred Thorne Realty; Mark Loudermilk, Becker Morgan Group; Sam Franck, Ward and Smith P.A.; David Honeycutt, Honeycutt Construction Services; Jason McLeod, ECS Carolinas LLP; Rob Balland, Paramounte Engineering; Grayson Powell, Coldwell Banker Commercial Sun Coast Partners; and Tim Milam, Coldwell Banker Sea Coast Advantage.

Eckel said BASE continues to provide input on the city of Wilmington’s and New Hanover County’s comprehensive plans.

“Those are 25-year documents which will shape the new development ordinances and drive investment in our region way into the future,” Eckel wrote. “If it becomes untenable to develop in New Hanover County, that growth is going to go to Pender and Brunswick.

"We feel very strongly about encouraging a regional approach. Aside from reviewing the specific documents themselves, one of the major things we have undertaken is trying to work behind the scenes to get the City Council and County Commission to sit down together and talk about their plans before they adopt them. How are the plans similar or different? Both plans encourage mixed use, but what does that mean? We continue to believe that it is critically important that whatever is adopted in New Hanover County recognize and complement the development in an adjoining jurisdiction, be it Pender County or the City of Wilmington. Consistency in plans, place types and future regulation will be beneficial to all the partners in the region.”

More than two years in the making, the city’s recently completed Comprehensive Plan could be adopted as early as March 1. That’s when a public hearing and resolution to adopt the plan is expected to be on the agenda for the City Council’s 6:30 p.m. meeting in the panel’s chambers at City Hall, said Christine Hughes, senior planner for the city. The fourth chapter of the county’s five-chapter Comprehensive Plan, PlanNHC, was adopted by the New Hanover County Board of Commissioners on Jan. 19. Chapter five is still in the public review process.
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