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New Hanover leaders hone economic development strategy

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Commissioners and council members agreed to focus on six strategies in the short term. Commissioners and council members agreed to focus on six strategies in the short term.
WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) -

The New Hanover County Commission and Wilmington City Council met in a joint session Tuesday to act on a consultant's recommendations for boosting economic development. 

Last August, the county hired consulting firm Garner Economics to develop a strategy at a cost of nearly $100,000. The firm came up with 21 recommendations ranging from workforce development to physical infrastructure.  

The objective of the joint meeting was to identify which strategies to implement first. 

"It's not that we disagree that all 21 of these things are important, but clearly some are more important and lower hanging and cheaper and more attainable quickly than others," said Woody White, chair of the New Hanover County Board of Commissioners. 

Commissioners and council members agreed to focus on six strategies in the short term: 

  • Create a three-county micromarketing alliance with Brunswick, New Hanover and Pender counties. 
  • Advocate for and develop a realistic and sustainable incentive policy for New Hanover County (and City of Wilmington).  
  • Better support small and new businesses; identify existing resources that will help small businesses grow.  
  • Make the case for sustainable funding sources to improve the county's economic development infrastructure and identify catalytic programs to use the monies effectively. 
  • "ReBuild" New Hanover County (invest in missing, aging or limited infrastructure, eliminate blight, etc.) 
  • Advocate for the continuation of state incentives for the film industry. 

Leaders decided the Wilmington Regional Film Commission would be the most appropriate organization to lead the film incentives advocacy. The county and city divided the responsibility of spearheading the other initiatives.  

County Manager Chris Coudriet plans to report his progress to county commissioners in 45 days, spokeswoman Carey Disney Ricks said.  

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