Officials partner with UNCW, CFCC to determine how to attract businesses

NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC (WECT) - New Hanover County and the City of Wilmington are partnering with UNCW and Cape Fear Community College to determine how to attract businesses that will be a good fit for the community.

Officials announced the targeted industry analysis during a press conference held Wednesday at Wilmington International Airport.

"Through this process, over 100 community partners will participate in identifying what growing industries and firms are seeking in the global market and work together to institute regional change to enhance the economic vitality of our community," said Woody White, chair of the New Hanover County Board of Commissioners.

New Hanover County hired Garner Economics, an economic development consulting firm, to help develop the strategy. The firm will be paid $92,500 plus travel costs, according to Carey Disney Ricks, New Hanover County public and legislative affairs director. Garner Economics' website lists the Wilmington Chamber of Commerce and North Carolina's Southeast as previous clients.

Over the coming months, the firm will compile input from a variety of stakeholders, including entrepreneurs, elected officials and environmentalists. White said it will be vital for the consultant and steering committee to hear all viewpoints.

"It was important to the city, the county, and our regional partners that we unite and initiate the process of lowering our unemployment, creating jobs, and engaging the community in the process while we kind of community we want to be moving forward," he explained.

The project is only one of the economic development initiatives underway in the region. UNCW is spearheading a regional branding initiative. The brand is expected to be unveiled in March 2014.

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