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2024 Preview: Economic Groups’ Goals For The Year

By Staff Reports, posted Jan 12, 2024

Each year the Greater Wilmington Business Journal publishes a Book on Business, an annual reference guide to the local market.

For the publication, the Business Journal asks several of the region’s economic development groups and organizations that are economic drivers to check in with a recap of what happened in the past year and what they expect for 2024.

Here are excerpts of some of their reports, in their own words.

This year’s Book on Business will be unveiled at a special event 4:30-7 p.m. Jan. 23 at the Lumina on Wrightsville Beach. Click here for more info.


Wilmington Business Development

Top Official: Scott Satterfield, CEO

2024 Goals 

Promote: “WBD will actively engage in ally, investor and partnership development, outreach and education that effectively promote and improve the region, its economic assets, business interests and quality of life.”

 Retain: “WBD will endeavor to support the existing businesses of greater Wilmington and the jobs they represent.”

 Recruit: “WBD will aggressively deploy outreach tools to showcase greater Wilmington as a destination for high-quality economic investors.”


Wilmington Downtown iNC. (WDI)

Top Official: Christina Haley, vice president

2024 Goals

• Work with key stakeholders to catalyze additional investments downtown and maintain an attractive downtown market

• Assist the city of Wilmington with the Greater Downtown Area Comprehensive Plan

• Continue to support New Hanover County and its development partners with Project Grace

• Support the city with an alleyway improvement plan

• Form a committee to plan and execute an elaborate holiday season campaign and grow the holiday lights program

• Continue the goals of the Downtown Development Committee and identify new projects

• Finish a downtown retail assessment in collaboration with the city of Wilmington and stakeholders to assess future needs in downtown’s retail segment

• Sustain the success of the Microloan Program, assisting additional small businesses and entrepreneurs with needed capital

• Expand corporate employment in the CBD through business relocation or new location opportunities

• Conduct an MSD Survey to gain public input to refine operations, providing exemplary service to downtown constituency groups

• Continue support in beautification and revitalization efforts through the Facade Improvement Grant Program

• Identify more public art opportunities in conjunction with the Arts Council and the city

• Focus on historic properties and work with partners to ensure lasting growth and development within the historic district and beyond

• Continue the downtown economic survey in the CBD

• Convene stakeholders to help bring solutions to downtown challenges, including parking, unhoused outreach, safety and cleanliness

• Complete the development of the downtown parking map in conjunction with “Bring it Downtown” task force members

• Foster relationships and community building with partner organizations


Brunswick County Economic Development

Top Official: Bill Early, executive director

2024 Goals

• Attract continued investment in additional spec buildings

• Strengthen product offerings by identifying and developing additional industrial sites in Brunswick County with a focus along the U.S. 17 corridor in the southern portion of Brunswick County

• Continue aggressive digital marketing campaign targeted to site selection consultants

• Increase opportunities for private sector investment in marketing Brunswick County


North Carolina’s Southeast

Top Official: Steve Yost, president

2021-24 GOALS

• Continue implementation of 2021-24 strategic marketing plan

• Support the creation of 3,950 new jobs through marketing strategies and engagement

• Support the creation of $710 million in private investment through marketing strategies and engagement

• Encourage 34 company locations to the region through marketing strategies and engagement


Wilmington Chamber of Commerce

Top Official: Natalie English, president and CEO

2024 Goals

• Enhance infrastructure and placemaking efforts across the region, attracting new industries and supporting existing businesses by creating vibrant and attractive spaces

• Focus on talent development, attraction and retention through educational programs, partnerships with educational institutions and initiatives to showcase career opportunities and improve the region’s appeal for skilled professionals

• Address the issue of affordable housing by collaborating with local stakeholders to explore solutions that increase housing accessibility while ensuring sustainable development

• Continue efforts in developing talent pipelines to meet the needs of rapidly growing industries in the area, bridging the gap between skill sets and industry demands through collaborations with educational institutions and workforce development agencies


Novant Health NHRMC

Top Official: Ernie Bovio, president of Novant Health Coastal region/Novant Health New Hanover Regional Medical Center 

2024 Goals

“To create a healthier future for the communities we serve. Specific goals include opening Wilmington’s first Novant Health Michael Jordan Family Medical Clinic, completing a 60,000-square-foot medical office building at our Scotts Hill campus, launching a new psychiatry residency program and a new rural track of our family medicine residency program as well as continuing to prioritize workforce investment and recruit new providers to grow access to care locally.”


University of North Carolina Wilmington

Top Official: Aswani Volety, chancellor 

2024 Goals

• Enhance academic advising and student success services, including mental and physical health-related programming

• Expand career readiness services and high-impact learning experiences for students

• Continue to focus on financial aid optimization and affordability for students and their families

• Launch a new campus master plan, which will include ideas for a new academic building, sports facilities and a welcome center

• Continue to implement the Soar Higher Strategic Plan

• Develop programs and services in critical workforce and research areas

• Initiate plans to repair and renovate Cameron Hall, DeLoach Hall and Kenan Auditorium over the next two years

• Expand UNCW’s partnerships within the community, across the state and nation, and around the world

• Continue contributing to the educational, cultural and economic vitality of the region


Cape Fear Community College

Top Official: Jim Morton, president

2024 Goals

• “Expansion of Health and Human Services (HHS) Building (Phase II): Phase two of the HHS building expansion will triple the instructional space for our dental programs to accommodate more students. We’ll also continue to expand the number of classrooms and simulation labs available to our nursing and health sciences programs. 

• Drop-in Child Care Services Expansion: In January 2024, we will relocate the drop-off day care to the new HHS building, doubling the capacity and expanding the age range of children we can accommodate. This expansion will enable us to serve more students, providing essential temporary child care at no cost while student-parents study or attend classes.

• Apprenticeship Program Growth: We will expand apprenticeship programs to provide direct paths to careers. Through these programs, students will enhance their skills while receiving paid, hands-on training and the assurance of employment opportunities. We will also expand our collaboration with local employers to understand their needs and tailor apprenticeships to fulfill workforce requirements.

• Strengthened Articulation Agreements: CFCC will continue to create seamless pathways for students transferring to four-year universities, offering more opportunities to achieve long-term educational goals.

• Program Offerings Expansion: CFCC is introducing three new options in the fall 2024 semester. Students can pursue three new program options in fields with strong local employment prospects: Simulation and Game Development, Marketing and Geomatics, all in-demand fields with strong local employment prospects.

• Surf City Expansion: CFCC was allocated $4 million in the state budget to expand the Surf City Campus. The 10,000-square-foot addition will provide additional classroom and laboratory space to expand course offerings to accommodate a growing population. 

• Replacement of R/V Cape Hatteras: CFCC was allocated $7 million in the state budget to replace the Cape Hatteras. A new ship will be designed and constructed for our marine technology program.

• Building Renovations: CFCC will undergo substantial renovations to the G Building and the second floor of the L Building. G Building renovations will accommodate our expanding continuing education and economic and workforce development programming, as well as our Small Business Center. The second-floor L Building renovations will provide much-needed improvements to our library and tutoring labs to meet the needs of our students. 

• Education Preparation Program (EPP): In response to the need for qualified teachers in our community, CFCC has developed a fast-track training certificate to provide individuals who have already obtained a bachelor's or master’s degree with training focusing on teaching skills.”


Brunswick Community College

Top Official: Gene Smith, president 

2024 Goals

• Increase program offerings to meet industry workforce demands

• Continue and complete build of Public Safety Building and begin build of Workforce Development Center

• Provide additional curriculum courses at night and on weekends

• Increase capacity for Nursing Program

• Apply for additional grant funding opportunities to support new program development and existing program growth


New Hanover Community Endowment

Top Official: William Buster, president and CEO 

2024 Goals

“To continue to work with our partners to bring transformational solutions to New Hanover County.” Specific goals include moving to a rolling grant cycle, working with housing providers on a comprehensive plan to address the affordable housing crisis and investing in workforce development and health access programs.


Wilmington International Airport (ILM)

Top Official: Jeffrey Bourk, airport director 

2024 Goals

• Continue terminal curb, roadway and parking improvements, including beginning work on the Airport Boulevard road realignment

• Continue to pursue air service development initiatives and add an additional nonstop route

• Continue to support and grow general aviation

• Continue to add new airside and landside tenant developments


Port of Wilmington

Top Official: Brian Clark, executive director

2024 Goals

• Begin work on a new intermodal facility that will provide four new working tracks totaling 5,000 linear feet. This will increase capacity to 50,000 intermodal rail movements annually. 

• Complete construction work on Area L, the old container gate site. When complete, the old interchange will be converted to a facility suited to grounded container operations.

• Continued growth of cargo volumes

• Expand global coverage of vessel services

• Engage and support state-wide economic development projects

• Develop the talent pipeline


City of Wilmington

Top Official: Bill Saffo, mayor

2024 Goals

• Implement funded plan to attract and retain a skilled workforce during a competitive  and challenging labor market  

• Enhance fire and police programs necessary to maintain a safe, healthy and engaged community

• Implement $16.2 million funded plan to further improve city streets, sidewalks and road projects

• Finish consolidating city services to the Skyline Center and sell or otherwise dispose of surplus property

• Open nCino Sports Complex

• Open Riverlights Fire Station

• Open Masonboro Loop Trail


New Hanover County

Top Official: Bill Rivenbark, New Hanover County Board of Commissioners chair

2024 Goals

• Strategic Plan for Future Growth: Implementation of the new five-year strategic plan, guiding the allocation of over $2.5 billion in county funding over the next five years. This plan focuses on infrastructure, health and community services, aiming to address current and future community needs.

• Development of Public Amenities: Scheduled completion of Hanover Pines Nature Park and the Customer Convenience Center at the landfill, which align with the county’s goals for sustainable land use and environmental stewardship

• Enhancement of Mental Health Services: The county plans to utilize opioid settlement funds and the county’s Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder fund to improve access to treatment and services, reflecting a commitment to community health and well-being.

• Support for Cultural Development: Ongoing support for Project Grace, reinforcing the county's focus on transforming an entire downtown block to enhance cultural and educational opportunities in downtown Wilmington.”


Brunswick County

Top Official: Randy Thompson, Brunswick County Board of Commissioners chair 

2024 Goals

• Research and implement recruitment and retention initiatives for a strong and sustainable future workforce

• Continued collaboration and partnerships with wholesale customers to provide a strong regional utility system to all county water and sewer customers 

• Continued preparation and innovation of county utility, planning, zoning, code and other services to support projected population growth and residential and commercial developments 

• Collaboration with NCDOT, WMPO, municipalities, and other local partners to ensure long-term transportation needs are addressed, particularly concerning projects involving the Cape Fear Memorial Bridge, Carolina Byways project, the NC Hwy. 211 widening project and NCDOT 30-year transportation comprehensive plan for the county

•  Consider possible recommendations for financing and initiating projects outlined in the County Complex Site and Buildings Master Plan Study

• Explore opportunities to improve and install audio and video capabilities and livestreaming/video capture of board of commissioners meetings


Pender County

Top Official: Brad George, Pender County Board of Commissioners chair 

2024 Goals

• Acquisition of property for water plant investments

• Continue to expand water service areas within the county

• Develop and implement personnel policies that may help to improve employee recruitment and retention

• Strengthen the county staff through professional development

• Partner with Pender County Schools to enhance educational opportunities and attract qualified staff

• Continue fiscal responsibility through a balanced budget

• Increase the availability of affordable housing

• Continue the county’s commitment of $360,000 for beach nourishment

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