WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) – The committee charged with creating a brand for the Wilmington area is working to figure out what types of companies to attract and the selling points to lure them.
The Brand Identity Leadership Team (BILT), comprised of government, non-profit and business leaders, held its first open meeting Wednesday at UNCW, although it met twice previously starting in October.
The group tentatively decided to create a brand that would appeal to small and medium-sized businesses, leaving large-scale industrial recruiting to economic development groups like Wilmington Business Development.
A final decision on targeting, however, will wait until the release of a study New Hanover County commissioned in 2013. The report, by Atlanta-based Garner Economics, is expected to identify industry sectors that are a good fit for the area.
Much of the BILT committee's discussion focused on which assets – like transportation, education, and quality of life – will best appeal to companies considering the Wilmington area.
"I think some people feel as if quality of life is the most important and some feel like it's the last thing," said Alfred White of Wells Fargo, who chairs the BILT.
White is concerned that a brand focusing on Wilmington's quality of life wouldn't fully represent the area's assets and resources.
"Quality of life is one good thing, but it's not going to be the best seller," he said.
Results of a recent UNCW survey indicated that community members believe quality of life is the region's biggest asset.
"When you marry in what our largest asset is with things that matter to businesses, quality of life is probably the direction we need to go," said Thomas Porter, chair of the marketing department at UNCW's Cameron School of Business.
White, the BILT chair, said previous meetings had largely been informational. He explained Wednesday's discussion "got the wheels in motion."
"This was the first meeting where we truly had a debrief of our ideas, our thoughts, and the information that was presented," he said.
Roger Johnson, special assistant to Wilmington's city manager, explained the BILT committee isn't working on a specific timetable.
"Bringing a diverse group of people together is sometimes a difficult task, so there's a lot of discussion and dialogue that happens before decisions are made," Johnson said.
When it meets again next month, the committee plans to focus on developing potential hooks and emotional connections that will serve as a basis for the community's brand.
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