City Officials Outline Goals From Housing To Economic Development

By Emma Dill, posted Feb 5, 2024
Wilmington leaders are set to adopt a strategic plan this week that will guide the city into the future.

The proposed strategic plan features five focus areas: housing, transportation, economic development, public safety and “organizational excellence.” The plan aims to provide staff and residents with a standard set of goals to help guide decisions and investments from 2025 through 2030.

The Wilmington City Council will consider a resolution adopting the strategic plan on Tuesday as part of the council’s consent agenda. At a council meeting last month, Deputy City Manager Mary Vigue gave council members an overview of the proposed strategic plan.

Vigue told the council in January, “Our intent is to provide a strategic focus for our community and for our staff. “

City leaders last adopted a strategic plan in 2016. The plan guided the city from 2017 through 2020. Officials paused efforts to update the plan because of the recovery following 2018’sHurricane Florence in 2018 and the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.

The city’s previous plan included six focus areas. However, some of the plan’s goals were too broad to bring “meaningful change,” Vigue said.

This time, city staff intentionally developed three initiatives and three objectives to support each strategic goal. Vigue said an implementation plan and performance measures will also be implemented.

Preparation for this updated plan began when city leaders set aside funding in the city’s fiscal year 2022 budget to hire a consultant. Throughout 2022 and into 2023, staff worked with consultant TransPro to conduct surveys and focus groups with community members and city staff. They used the input to develop the plan’s five strategic goals. 

“These are basically those high-level goals that are aligned with the council’s and the community’s priorities,” Vigue said.

The first focus area is housing and neighborhoods. Specific goals include improving the availability of quality and affordable housing, fostering vibrant neighborhoods that connect existing and future residents to where people work, live, and play, and utilizing public engagement strategies to better align city services with community priorities.

Initiatives supporting this goal include developing more pathways to housing, reducing barriers to affordable housing development, completing the Greater Downtown Area Plan and enhancing collaboration with local nonprofits and other organizations.

The next focus area is transportation and infrastructure. Specific goals include improving transportation options and reducing congestion; improving roads, sidewalks, and trails; and maintaining and improving existing infrastructure.

Related initiatives include supporting the transit system, assisting in developing sustainable transit funding options, completing projects included in the 2014 transportation bond and evaluating a potential 2026 transportation bond referendum.

The third focus area is safety. Specific goals include providing public safety services that match the community’s needs, values and concerns; partnering with federal, state and local agencies to ensure the delivery of “exceptional public safety and emergency services to people experiencing homelessness or drug addiction”; and improving quality of life through minimum housing standards and enforcing city codes.

The plan specifically aims to reduce violent crime, improve safety along streets for drivers and pedestrians, and continue and expand the Getting Home and Community Risk Reduction programs.

For organizational excellence, specific goals include recruiting, developing and retaining a diverse, high-performing workforce; aligning facilities, staff, and technology with organizational and community needs; and expanding effective and equitable customer service.

That includes developing strategies to attract and retain candidates along with pathways for advancement and leadership. Objectives also include establishing a formalized process for updating organizational procedures and developing consistent customer service standards.

The final focus area is economic development and cultural vibrancy. Objectives include creating strategies to attract new businesses and retain and grow existing ones, identifying and enhancing local and regional economic development partnerships and enhancing and growing “Wilmington’s position as a nationally recognized entertainment, cultural, and tourism destination.”

Specific initiatives include assessing and developing creative economic development tools and entrepreneurial ecosystems and conducting a minority and women-owned business enterprise disparity study and plan for the city. Initiatives also include developing partnerships for workforce development, evaluating downtown parking strategies and creating an economic impact study for Live Oak Bank Pavillion and Greenfield Lake Amphitheater.
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