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WilmingtonBiz Magazine

Elected Officials' Major Moves

By Johanna Cano, posted Dec 8, 2020
New Hanover County public health officials held drive-thru COVID testing this year. (Photo courtesy of New Hanover County)
While elected government officials were not included in the WilmingtonBiz 100, they without a doubt have a large impact on the community.
 
COVID-19 response: In efforts to slow the spread of the coronavirus, governments at the state and local level implemented restrictions and guidelines, as well as increased testing efforts this year.
 
New Hanover County significantly expanded its diagnostic testing program in April, and New Hanover County Public Health is continuing its outreach testing events throughout the fall at various sites.
 
While the state of North Carolina is currently going through a multi-phased approach, which included a “Stay at Home” order during the start of the pandemic, local governments also established their own actions.
 
While many of those restrictions are currently lifted, the closures, including of businesses, has meant economic hardships for business owners. Local businesses were able to apply for grants from New Hanover County through the Small Business Economic Incentive Grant Program in which 130 local small businesses each received $10,000 grants. Through federal funding, the county also created the COVID-19 Child Care and Housing Assistance program.
 
New Hanover County: Much like last year, one of the most pressing decisions for county commissioners was New Hanover Regional Medical Center’s future. County commissioners in October approved a deal to sell the county-owned health system to Novant Health. Other items on the county’s agendas this year included conveying more than 14 acres of county-owned property to Cape Fear Habitat for Humanity for a workforce housing development, establishing an Office of Diversity and Equity and continuing plans to redevelop its Government Center with the approval of a development agreement with Cape Fear FD Stonewater.
 
City of Wilmington: The Gateway, a $90 million mixed-use development project in downtown Wilmington, was put on hold for now due to the coronavirus. This year, a Superior Court in the state found that the city’s registration system for short-term rentals conflicted with state law. In November, the city filed an appeal in the lawsuit challenging the city’s short-term rental ordinance.
 
Brunswick County: In October, Brunswick County’s Planning and Parks and Recreation departments announced a new initiative called Blueprint Brunswick 2040. County residents can voice their opinions on the future use of land use and parks and recreation. Brunswick County commissioners authorized staff with Brunswick BID to apply to the N.C. Department of Commerce for assistance with Project Touchdown, an economic development effort to help a manufacturer expand its facility.
 
Pender County: This year, Pender County commissioners continued supporting efforts to bring more developments to the county. In October it agreed to sell county-owned land to allow for a speculative building at Pender Commerce Park. It would be the second development in the industrial park. Also, Pender County Utilities received $20 million in state funding to build a reverse osmosis water treatment plant.
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