The golfing world has its eyes on Charlotte this week for the 99th PGA Championship, taking place through Sunday at Quail Hollow Club.
Now that the PGA spotlight has turned from the Wilmington area, where it hosted the Wells Fargo Championship at Eagle Point Golf Club in May, what of the regionwide flagship movement that rallied behind it?
The marketing campaign, Choose Cape Fear, brought together economic developers and organizations from a four-county area to call attention to the region during the international golf tournament.
The first PGA Tour event held in Wilmington in 47 years, the event became an economic driver for the Choose Cape Fear campaign, which worked to take advantage of the tournament in promoting the region’s assets and highlighting opportunities that could attract long-term business opportunities and industry prospects to the area.
Even though this year's Wells Fargo Championship is over, the Choose Cape Fear campaign is still working to find the next big opportunity to showcase the region, said Natalie English, president and CEO of the Wilmington Chamber of Commerce.
"This was not a one-and-done activity and campaign,” English said. “It was very intentional that we would continue the effort and so we will continue to raise money for it."
Fundraising efforts and ramping up its social media campaigns are just some of the ongoing efforts of the Choose Cape Fear campaign, English said.
Choose Cape Fear continues pitching story ideas to various national and regional industry-specific publications “to create awareness and a better understanding of the assets we have to offer in the Cape Fear region,” English said.
Those involved in the campaign are “anxiously awaiting” the September issue of Site Selection Magazine, which is set to feature the Cape Fear region, English said. The feature is the result of a visit by Gary Daughters, senior editor, to the area during the week of the tournament.
“That's a great outcome of the time we invested inviting him to come be with us. And we're really excited about seeing that,” English said. "The readership of that magazine includes ... executives and site selection consultants from all over the world because the magazine is specifically targeted to people who are making decisions about expanding or locating the business."
Choose Cape Fear maintains its presence among regional economic developers and has been working to find ways to continue its mission, English said.
"The whole idea of this campaign is to create support and resources for those groups as they're out trying to recruit more jobs to the region. And so we have been working in tandem with them in the creation of the content as well as where we're pitching story ideas and where we come up with the story ideas," English said. "That's really what made us successful is the broad regional aspect and working very closely with our partners."
English said Choose Cape Fear is now looking for the next crowd-drawing event to spread its message.
“We're considering some of the next steps of the campaign, so in addition to those things that have been ongoing … what are other opportunities?” English said. "With the golf tournament, we had great opportunities to place ads in various local publications and local locations like the light pole signage that was along Third Street that month. We're looking for what other opportunities might there be associated with things like Cucalorus and the Azalea Festival."
While English said Wells Fargo tournament staff may not receive the official numbers until sometime in the fall, it was estimated the PGA event would have a projected economic impact between $40 million and $60 million