A golf tournament might have been the catalyst, but a project to showcase the region’s economic development assets is live, about two months before the Wells Fargo Championship comes to Wilmington.
Officials at the Wilmington Chamber of Commerce’s annual meeting Tuesday night released more details about a new multi-county marketing effort, including its tagline: Choose Cape Fear. Discover Opportunity.
“We want people to choose this region. It’s very simple,” Albert Eckel, co-founder of Raleigh-based strategic communications firm Eckel & Vaughan, said at the meeting. “We want them to come here. We want them to create economic development opportunities that have them stay.”
The annual meeting, the 150th consecutive one for the chamber, took place at Cape Fear Community College’s Union Station. It featured keynote speaker Gov. Roy Cooper, who in his speech reinforced several of the issues he brought up in his State of the State address this week, including a call for lawmakers to repeal HB2 and his budget priorities on reinstating the film tax incentives programs and giving pay raises to teachers.
For the marketing initiative, officials also showed the campaign’s newly launched website (choosecapefear.com
), which focuses on regional information on topics such as workforce, transportation infrastructure and education, as well as companies based in the area.
“This campaign doesn’t live just during the Wells Fargo tournament. It’s already in motion as we speak,” Eckel said, adding that it is intended to continue after the golf crowds come and go.
After it was announced that the Wells Fargo Golf Championship, May 1-7, would relocate just this year from Charlotte to Wilmington’s Eagle Point Golf Club, chamber officials began discussing how to leverage the significant bump in attention the tournament is expected to give the area.
The Wilmington Chamber of Commerce organized the effort for a regional marketing push and hired Eckel’s firm to work on the initiative. So far it is being funded by: $100,000 from the chamber’s Cape Fear Future program, $75,000 from New Hanover County, $50,000 from the city of Wilmington and $10,000 from Columbus County economic development officials.
“We expect more commitments soon,” Charlie Mattox, the chamber’s board president this year, said at the annual meeting.
The campaign centers on a four-county region made up of New Hanover, Brunswick, Pender and Columbus counties.
“When you think about the assets from all four counties, they’re all so different so to market just one or the other wouldn’t be right,” said Natalie English, the chamber’s new president and CEO.
English, who started March 6, said managing growth would continue to be a priority for the area and an issue chamber officials want to have a voice on.
Last year’s completion of Wilmington and New Hanover County comprehensive plans as well as the recent adoption of updated special use permit rules laid the groundwork, English said.
But, she added, that effort continues as the city and county look at revising development ordinances.
“We’re going to be at that table,” English said.