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Governments Fund Economic Agencies

By Christina Haley O'Neal, posted Jul 13, 2018
The new fiscal year for government entities in the Cape Fear region began July 1, and with it, a new round of economic development funding from the city of Wilmington as well the local county governments.
 
New Hanover County’s $333 million budget, which has a 1.5-cent cut in the property tax rate, includes funding for local economic development organization Wilmington Business Development (WBD).
 
It received funding in the amount of nearly $200,000 from the county in its 2018-19 budget year, up slightly from nearly $197,000 in the county’s allocation a year earlier.
 
The organization, a private not-for-profit group that serves the city and New Hanover and Pender counties, also received $100,000 from the city of Wilmington – the same amount that was allocated last fiscal year. WBD received another $110,000 from Pender County for this fiscal year, according to its budget.
 
The nearly $410,000 in public funding is a portion of the more than $1 million annual budget for the group, which also raises money from private sources.
 
New Hanover County also carved out $25,000 in its budget for Wilmington Downtown Inc., a nonprofit economic development group that serves the city’s downtown. That group also received $86,000 from the city. Those figures were the same amount allocated from the county and city last fiscal year.
 
And the Wilmington Regional Film Commission, which promotes the area’s film industry, is receiving about $126,000 from New Hanover County, up some from the nearly $124,000 it got last fiscal year in county funds. From the city, the regional film commission was allocated another approximately $122,000, the same amount as in the city’s previous budget year.
 
The city of Wilmington’s $190 million budget includes a 1.5-cent property tax increase. As part of the city’s budget, an economic incentive funding in the amount of $46,000 was allocated for National Gypsum, a wallboard company that announced in May the reopening of its shuttered Wilmington plant, bringing 51 jobs and $25 million in capital improvements to the area.
 
The city’s portion of the funding is up to $230,000 over five years.
 
According to county officials, the company did not receive incentives in the county’s FY 2018-19 budget because an agreement with the company had not been finalized at the time of the budget. County officials said they anticipate that an incentive payment would likely be budgeted in the next fiscal year.
 
This would be the first installment in a five-year commitment from the county to pay at total of $350,000.
 
The total funding for outside economic development in New Hanover County’s budget is more than $1.4 million. It also included $20,000 for the North Carolina’s Southeast Regional Economic Development Partnership and more than $18,000 for the Southeastern Economic Development Commission. Those groups received $20,000 and $4,700, respectively, from Pender County.
 
New Hanover County created a new non-county agency funding policy for outside health and human service groups, economic and nonprofit agencies that took effect this fiscal year. Under the new policy, the broader definition for the economic development category opened opportunities for more community-based groups. Economic development groups this year included $16,000 in funding for Cucalorus and $10,000 for Friends of the Battleship North Carolina.
 
In Brunswick County’s more than $242 million budget, funding was included for the economic development organization Brunswick Business & Industry Development (Brunswick BID) in the amount of $425,000 for contract services.
 
The county agreed to pay initial funding for the organization in October. In its funding plan last year, the county agreed to allocate $362,500 over six months. The organization is establishing its new office location in Leland this month.
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