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City, County Propose Economic Development Funds For Next Fiscal Year

By Christina Haley O'Neal, posted May 14, 2018
New Hanover County and the city of Wilmington have presented staff recommendations for 2018-19 fiscal year budgets, which include suggested appropriations for economic development purposes.

The city is scheduled to hold a public hearing on its recommended budget at its council meeting Tuesday. The city's budget proposal continues incentive agreements with Castle Branch ($50,000) and Live Oak Bank ($50,000), along with an added agreement proposed to begin this coming fiscal year with National Gypsum ($46,000). According to the city’s recommended budget, incentive payment agreements with Pharmaceutical Product Development (PPD) and Alcami were removed for the new fiscal year.

The recommended city budget also includes a contractual payment to Wrightsville Beach for the annexation of the Galleria property on Wrightsville Avenue. “The payment to the town of Wrightsville Beach is scheduled to increase to an annual amount of $30,000 effective July 2019. The increased payment will continue through July 2043,” the proposed budget states.

There is also a suggested miscellaneous incentive funding increase from $100,000 to $125,000 in the 2019 fiscal year “to respond to any incentives that present themselves in FY19,” officials stated in the budget.

The recommended budget includes $25,000 for the Wilmington Chamber of Commerce efforts "to further develop the region’s knowledge-sector economy and promote [the] 'Choose Cape Fear' Program introduced in 2017 through their regional economic development marketing efforts."

Fiscal year 2017 marked the first year of three-year contracts with the city of Wilmington for funding to agencies including Wilmington Business Development (WBD) ($100,000) and the Wilmington Regional Film Commission ($121,890). These contracts and those with seven other organizations are recommended to continue in the next fiscal year. Among the other contracts is Wilmington Downtown Inc. with $86,000.

The Wilmington Regional Film Commission and WBD could get a slight bump in funding for the upcoming fiscal year in New Hanover County's budget.

New Hanover County staff have proposed more than $430,000 for outside agencies for economic development, including two new recommended items, Cucalorus and the area's arts council, said County Manager Chris Coudriet, who gave a presentation on the recommended budget during the New Hanover County Board of Commissioners' May 7 meeting.

In its recommended budget, staff suggests Wilmington Business Development receive $199,749, an increase from $196,813 in the adopted budget last fiscal year. For the Wilmington Regional Film Commission, the group received $123,756 in the adopted budget last year, with a proposed increase to $126,213.

Some agencies are recommended to get a slight decrease in funding. The Foreign Promotion Council is proposed to get $2,000, $500 less than the previous fiscal year, while the recommended budget proposes $3,000 for the Friends of Fort Fisher, $2,000 less than last fiscal year.

Other agencies recommended for funding in the county's budget proposal include North Carolina Southeast Regional Economic Development Partnership ($20,000) and Wilmington Downtown Inc. ($25,000). Economic Incentives are listed in the county’s recommended budget for Fortron Industries at $100,000.

There is also a proposed investment of $100,000 in a property on Blue Clay Road to “improve site readiness and sustainability for return to the private sector for the purposes of industrial development.”

Another investment is proposed for Project Grace, in the amount of $255,000, for continued work toward issuing proposals for redevelopment of the county-owned block that holds the main library branch and parking deck.

A proposed $250,000 is recommended for an investment in a partnership with Wrightsville Beach for improvements near Johnnie Mercers Pier.

New Hanover County is scheduled to hold a public hearing on its recommended budget June 4.
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