This Insights article was co-written by Erin McNally, Marketing Specialist for ILM.
Did you know Wilmington International Airport’s campus is home to many businesses and shovel-ready sites for future businesses?
The 140 acres surrounding the airport encompass the ILM Business Park and includes businesses, such as the VA Health Care Center, Battle House, 84 Lumber, KBT Realty, Toshiba Business Solutions, Scratch on 23rd, and All American Aviation Services.
The ILM Business Park has several properties available for lease, including flex space and industrial warehouse space. It also has landside parcels and airside sub-parcel sites available to develop ranging from two to 20 acres. Aeronautical businesses, logistic companies, and warehouse and distribution users are among those that align well with the ILM Business Park.
Many businesses choose to locate at the ILM Business Park given its close proximity to major highways, the port, a rail spur and, of course, ILM airport. The ILM Business Park is also a magnet site for Foreign Trade Zone 214.
A foreign trade zone, or FTZ, is like a “duty free” zone for businesses. Commercial merchandise is treated by U.S. Customs as if it were outside the commerce of the United States. The FTZ program allows U.S. based companies to defer, reduce or even eliminate Customs duties on products admitted to the zone, providing important benefits to businesses and industries.
As part of Wilmington International Airport’s 2019 goals, ILM seeks to achieve 100-percent occupancy in ILM’s Flex Building, located on Gardner Drive in the ILM Business Park. ILM also has a goal of identifying a flagship hotel developer to build a full-service airport hotel on Airport Boulevard.
The conceptual plan for the ILM Business Park identified a site for hotel development. The potential hotel could provide lodging to business professionals, overnight flight crews, tourists and travelers. It would also support UNCW and its visiting guests, students and families.
According to the 2017 Regional Travel Summary prepared by Visit NC, in 2017, 23 percent of NC visitors traveled to North Carolina’s coastal region (defined as the 278 most eastern counties). Further, 39 percent of Coastal Region visitors lodged at a hotel or motel. Those visitors accounted for approximately 10.8 million-person trips and approximately 9.5 million overnight-person trips.
With the downtown Wilmington Convention Center continuing to work to increase the awareness of Wilmington as a place to conduct trade shows and other activities, the possibility of a new hotel providing additional rooms may be well-timed. Further, ILM anticipates over 900,000 passengers traveled to and/or from ILM airport in 2018. Numerous travelers require an overnight stay and opt for the convenience of staying close to the airport for early morning departures or late-night arrivals.
The ILM team has a goal of identifying an interested flagship operator to develop the 100-room hotel. Amenities within the full-service hotel could include a restaurant, business center, pool and fitness center. The corporate-centric hotel will not only accelerate further economic development in the ILM Business Park and surrounding areas, it would sync up with ILM’s $60 million airport expansion.
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