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20/20 IN REAL ESTATE 20/20 IN HEALTH CARE 20/20 IN TRANSPORTATION 20/20 IN TECHNOLOGY 20/20 IN TOURISM 20/20 IN FILM

ON THE COVER

photo by Michael Cline Spencer

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Photographer Michael Cline Spencer takes a birds-eye view of an iconic Wilmington symbol. We picked this image of the Cape Fear Memorial Bridge for our 20th anniversary issue to represent the bridging of the past and future, not just for the Business Journal, which started in February 2000, but for the region as a whole.

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YEARS YEARS Wilmington inin Wilmington www.clancytheys.com www.clancytheys.com


LETTER FROM THE EDITOR

HOW DO YOU

measure a year?

H

OW DID YOU START 2020?

Did you make New Year’s resolutions? Was it to get in shape or organize your finances? How about updating your Zoom background or learning how to bake sourdough bread? No, not so much? This might not be the year any of us expected, but it’s the one we have. In similar fashion, this isn’t quite the 2020 in Biz package we at the Business Journal envisioned going into the year, but it’s the one we proudly present to you in this latest edition of the WilmingtonBiz Magazine. Our 2020 in Biz project – pegged to the Greater Wilmington Business Journal’s 20th anniversary – was a chance to mark not just how we’ve grown as a publication but also how the region has changed over the past two decades. We also wanted to take the opportunity to look forward to the next two decades. With those goals in mind, we planned for a regular series in the newspaper around that theme, group discussions with thought leaders to talk about key future issues, a Power Breakfast with hundreds of our readers on the topic and more. Then March – and, well, you know what happened. You were there too. So while news coverage and attention pivoted to documenting the impacts of COVID-19 and sharing information to help people adjust to the fast-changing conditions, the calendar still says 2020. In this special edition of the magazine, we

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take a deep look at the past, present and future of the region. Flip through the pages, and you’ll find timelines about major happenings in the Cape Fear region since 2000. Our team wrote feature stories checking in the local economy’s major sectors. Local leaders shared their thoughts about what’s next for their industries. And for those of you who love a good stat – who doesn’t? – there are graphics galore courtesy of our talented designer Suzi Drake to see at a glance how things have changed. Sometimes in the midst of disruption, it’s difficult to see the long view. We hope this issue gives you that break to do so, to take stock of where the community’s been and to put some thought into what comes next.

VICKY JANOWSKI, EDITOR vjanowski@wilmingtonbiz.com

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CONTRIBUTORS

M A G A Z I N E

FA L L 2 0 2 0 – $ 4 . 9 5

Publisher

JOHANNA C A N O JOHANNA CANO is a reporter for the Greater Wilmington Business Journal, covering the local tech and startups beat. Cano also is the digital editor for WILMA magazine, the Business Journal’s sister publication. In this issue, she writes about the development of the area’s tech scene over the past 20 years in “Entrepreneurial Endeavors” (PAGE 57).

Rob Kaiser

rkaiser@wilmingtonbiz.com

President

Robert Preville rpreville@wilmingtonbiz.com

A s s o c i at e P u b l i s h e r Judy Budd

jbudd@wilmingtonbiz.com

Editor

Vicky Janowski vjanowski@wilmingtonbiz.com

A s s i s ta n t E d i t o r Cece Nunn

CHRISTIA HALEY O'NEAL CHRISTINA HALEY O’NEAL is a reporter for the Greater Wilmington Business Journal, covering regional topics such as the local economy, major employers and transportation. She writes about the clinical research cluster in “Growing the Pharma Base” (PAGE 35) and major infrastructure projects in “Building Out” (PAGE 47).

cnunn@wilmingtonbiz.com

Reporters Johanna Cano

jcano@wilmingtonbiz.com

Christina Haley O'Neal chaley@wilmingtonbiz.com

Vice President

of

Maggi Apel

Sales

mapel@wilmingtonbiz.com

Senior Account Executive Craig Snow

csnow@wilmingtonbiz.com

Account Executives

C E C E N U N N CECE NUNN has been writing and editing for more than 20 years, currently working as the assistant editor and real estate reporter for the Greater Wilmington Business Journal. She lives in Wilmington with her husband and two daughters. Nunn details the early days of Mayfaire Town Center in “Developing the Mayfaire Way” (PAGE 21) and tourism efforts in Carolina Beach in “Down on the Boardwalk.” (PAGE 69)

Ali Buckley

abuckley@wilmingtonbiz.com

O f f i c e & A u d i e n c e D e v e l o p m e n t M a nag e r Sandy Johnson

sjohnson@wilmingtonbiz.com

E v e n t s / D i g i ta l A s s i s ta n t Elizabeth Stelzenmuller

events@wilmingtonbiz.com

D e s i g n & M e d i a C o o r d i nat o r Molly Jacques

production@wilmingtonbiz.com

C o n t e n t M a r k e t i n g C o o r d i nat o r

MICHAEL C L I N E SPENCER MICHAEL CLINE SPENCER, owner of Michael Cline Photography, is a Wilmington-based freelance photojournalist with over 15 years’ experience working at several prominent North Carolina newspapers. He specializes in corporate, editorial, pet and wedding photography. Spencer photographed the issue’s cover of the Cape Fear Memorial Bridge. He also photograped the bridge as well as ILM airport officials for "Building Out" (PAGE 47). michaelclinephoto.com

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Morgan Mattox

mmattox@wilmingtonbiz.com

Contributing Designer Suzi Drake

art@wilmingtonbiz.com

C o n t r i b u t i n g P h o t o g r aph e r s

Paul Boroznoff, Logan Burke, Megan Deitz, Kevin Kleitches, Michael Cline Spencer, Terah Wilson

Subscribe

To subscribe to WilmingtonBiz Magazine,visit wilmingtonbiz.com/subscribe or call 343-8600 x201. © 2019 SAJ Media LLC


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20 20

IN BIZ

Building up

Anniversary milestone

Sleeping giant

Austin Yeargan’s ortho work with patient stem cells

The local United Way marks 75 years

June 17 - June 30, 2016, Vol. 17, No. 13

Palliative services

Novant’s Brunswick Medical Center adds consults Page 5

$2.00

www.wilmingtonbiz.com

LESS MALL, MORE MIX?

Lee Kent ups the hot dog game in Leland

Lloyd Singleton on tree management for storm prep

Page 15

Page 23

Page 9

August 25 - Sept. 7, 2017, Vol. 18, No. 18

web

EXCLUSIVE

$2.00

www.wilmingtonbiz.com

*

Echo Farms land is one of four sites the city is looking at to build new soccer fields wilmingtonbiz.com

What new developments might mean for traffic and retail growth Page 7

September 21-October 4, 2018, Vol. 19, No. 20

web

EXCLUSIVE

Park goals

In the works

Online presence

See the area’s largest Web Developers and Designers in The List

Haute dogs

Planting roots

Marpac’s sleep time line grows

Page 11

Page 9

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wilmingtonbiz.com

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UNDER THE SURFACE

wilmingtonbiz.com

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DIGITAL EXCLUSIVE

wilmingtonbiz.com

Q&As with area experts about navigating the coronavirus situation

wilmingtonbiz.com/bookonbusiness

Main attractions

Facebook.com/WilmingtonBiz

Closing up shop

The sea turtle center helped bump up visitor spending

SPECIAL FOCUS

Several national retailers are shuttering stores

Page 6

REGION IN FOCUS

Page 10

BRUNSWICK CO.

Page 11 PAGE

County moves: Randell Woodruff crosses county lines

PAGE

Housing repor t: South Brunswick’s buying spree

PAGE

Going to the dogs: Brodee Dogs’ Leland leap

10

Weighing LLCs

Art in action

Options beyond the nonprofit status

A new certification process for businesses supporting the arts adds to the local patron pool

Page 15

South Front addition

14

Cheers for causes

Love, Lydia Bakery fills a neighborhood niche

Page 18

The social side of philanthropy Page 19

Page 27

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Index

Presorted Standard US Postage Paid Monroe, GA Permit No 15

Banking & Finance .............................3-4 Health Care ........................................5-6 Real Estate .........................................7-8 In Profile ................................................ 9 The List ...........................................11,12 Trend Tracker ........................................15

PHOTO BY WILL PAGE

Prime real estate: Some say a mixed-use project would work well at Independence Mall in Wilmington. BY CECE NUNN s Terry Espy worked with a group recently that’s considering a major commercial development in the Wilmington area, she showed them Independence Mall. In the end, they weren’t interested in a redevelopment project, preferring a piece of property where they could build from the ground up, said Espy, president of commercial development and real estate brokerage firm MoMentum Companies. To turn Independence Mall, a more than 1 million-square-foot indoor mall at 3500 Oleander Drive, into a lifestyle center would be an expensive proposition, brokers say. But their eyes, and those of others in the business community, are on the possibilities there because, as Espy says, “It is prime real estate.” Foreclosure proceedings on part of Independence Mall, opened in 1979 and renovated in 2001, began in 2014 after Centro Independence

A

LLC, owner of nearly 500,000 square feet of the property including the JC Penney wing, defaulted on a $110 million J.P. Morgan loan. As a result of its default status, the loan was moved to a special servicer in October 2014. That special servicer has been in discussions about a potential loan modification with Centro Independence this year, according to recent reports from companies that analyze commercial loans. The latest foreclosure sale date has been set for July 12. But even with a potential sale and speculation about the mall’s future, drastic changes don’t seem likely any time soon. “Independence Mall is a hot spot for shoppers in the midtown Wilmington area,” said mall general

JULY 1977: Workers 1977: Mall opens for 2001: Renovations and 2006: $110 million 2014: Loan break ground on shoppers with Sears, expansion; movie theater loan taken out on portion analysis firm Independence Mall Belk Beery (now just demolished to make way of mall that includes reports loan Belk), and JC Penney for Dillard’s wing JC Penney in default as anchors

manager Helen Lewis in an email. “It has a solid national retailer base that continually attracts customers, which includes Hot Topic and Journeys.” A national shoe seller, Vans, opened its first Wilmington-area store in March in 3,000 square feet at Independence Mall, and T-Mobile and Hershey’s Ice Cream opened new locations there this year, Lewis said. The company that handles leasing and management of the mall, Madison Marquette, “has been working on a plan to update the center, which will feature esthetic and usable amenities including interior and exterior landscaping, interior painting, energy management upgrades and veteran designated parking spots,” Lewis said. Some say indoor malls in general have fallen out of fashion. As the developers planned The Pointe at Barclay at South 17th See MALL, page 14 PHOTO C/O NHC PUBLIC LIBRARY

2015: Foreclosure JULY 12, 2016: proceedings begin Latest foreclosure on collateral sale date for portion of mall collateral portion

Index Technology............................................. 3 Economic Development ......................4-5 Real Estate .........................................7-8 In Profile ..............................................11 The List ...............................................16 Trend Tracker ........................................18

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Find more resources for the cleanup

March 20 - April 2, 2020 Vol. 21, No. 6

WEB EXCLUSIVE

BOB is here

Aftermath help

GenX raises questions about how industrial contaminants are monitored along the Cape Fear River as it flows downstream to the Wilmington area

February 1-14, 2019 Vol. 20, No. 3

VIRAL VOID

PHOTO BY CHRIS BREHMER

Undercurrents: The Cape Fear River serves as the source of drinking water for systems in southeastern North Carolina. BY CHRISTINA HALEY O’NEAL

G

enX and other emerging contaminants pose challenges for state regulators and health officials in catching the larger scope of what is being released into the Wilmington area’s drinking water supply. With dozens of major and minor industrial process and commercial facilities permitted to discharge wastewater into the river and a twoyear backlog of permits, how will state regulators balance health and industry when many of these emerging contaminants continue to reach drinking water supplies without regulation?

PERMITTING PROCESS

GenX, an emerging contaminant discovered in Wilmington’s drinking water supply and linked to The Chemours Co. operations along the Cape Fear River 70 miles upstream, continues to spark reaction from state officials three months after reports first thrust the water-quality issue into the public eye. The issue has prompted protests, action from local and state officials and both federal and state investiga-

tions into Chemours’ handling of the contaminant, which is not filtered by water treatment systems. But Chemours, and its 2,150-acre Fayetteville Works site, is not the only industrial user along the river. There are 50 industries regulated under federal Clean Water Act requirements in the Cape Fear River Basin, which extends as far west as Greensboro and Winston-Salem and expands across the state into Wilmington and Brunswick County. The users are permitted under the federal National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES), which the state enforces. Most big industries, such as Chemours, that are discharging millions of gallons of water a day have a major permit, according to Julie Grzyb, N.C. Department of Environmental Quality’s supervisor of complex permitting. There are 20 major and minor industrial facilities with an NPDES wastewater discharge permit that discharge to the Cape Fear River and the Northeast Cape Fear River. In the Wilmington area, some of the local industries with major permits include Duke Energy Progress’

Sutton and Brunswick plants, Fortron Industries, GE Global Nuclear Fuel and Invista S.A.R.L., according to a list of permits provided by DEQ. Industrial users such as these are required to complete an application and obtain an NPDES permit for discharges of wastewaters to surface waters of the state, Grzyb said. There are federal categorical Effluent Guidelines and Standards that include limitations on how much of certain contaminants can be discharged from a facility. Requirements for monitoring frequency are determined by the state, Grzyb said. “EPA regulations have come up with a list of toxic pollutants. And so certain industries have to test certain parameters on that list. So that’s our starting point. And then, basically they identify what processes discharge wastewaters, and we work with them to try to understand all the pollutants of concern,” Grzyb said. The state also has its own regulations, which can sometimes replace those by the EPA, if the state has stricter standards. As part of its permitting authority, DEQ considers federal and state

w i l m i n g t o n b i z m a g a z i n e . c o m

See WATER, page 14

Index Economic Indicators ............................. 3 Technology ........................................... 4 Hospitality .........................................6-7 The List ................................................. 8 In Profile ..............................................15 Real Estate ................................... 22-23 Business of Life ............................. 26-27

SUBSCRIBE NOW SUBSCRIBE TO THE BUSINESS JOURNAL NOW AT WilmingtonBiz.com/subscribe Your subscription includes: • Unlimited access to stories on WilmingtonBiz.com • Bi-weekly Business Journals, WilmingtonBiz Magazine and the 2019 Book on Business mailed to your office or home • At least 20 extra IQ points with your added business knowledge!

PHOTO BY MICHAEL CLINE SPENCER

Clearing the way: In the days after Hurricane Florence’s landfall, workers spread out to clear fallen trees blocking major roadways, such as this one above on Market Street.

THE FUTURE AFTER FLO

H

BY CECE NUNN

URRICANE FLORENCE WILL GO DOWN IN HISTORY AS A DISASTER THAT TESTED THE ABILITY OF A HURRICANE-PRONE REGION TO COPE.

In some cases, emergency preparations were, and are, being pushed to their very limits. And it’s likely businesses, service providers, local governments and residents will be dealing with the aftermath for weeks and months to come. Even before Hurricane Florence made landfall, officials were predicting a lengthy recovery. “The message we’re getting from everyone is that this is going to be a major event that’s going to last a long time,” said U.S. Rep. David Rouzer, R-NC.

Despite its downgraded Category 1 hurricane status (from a potential Category 4) when it made landfall Sept. 14 near Wrightsville Beach, the storm hit hard, with record-breaking winds and rainfall leading to flooding that had not reached its peak as of press time. A number of deaths have been attributed to the storm, with more possible because of the flooding and additional hazards. Fears about the future were high in the hours after Florence made landfall, when at one point even water service in the city of Wilmington seemed in peril. Officials were warning residents who had fled not to come back until receiving the all-clear. Three days after Florence rolled in, though, power was beginning to be restored in parts of the area, and the community was already looking to

what the future might hold.

WILMINGTON, DISRUPTED

In a previous study by experts at the University of North Carolina Wilmington, research showed that one of the largest economic impacts that can be caused by a hurricane is the lost productivity from the disruption See FLORENCE, page 10

STORM-RELATED COVERAGE HURRICANE

FLORENCE

Index Banking & Finance ................................ 4 The List .....................................5, 14, 15 Health Care .......................................... 6 Economic Development ........................ 8 In Profile ............................................... 9 Real Estate ................................... 10-12 Business of Life ............................. 18-19

SUBSCRIBE NOW SUBSCRIBE TO THE BUSINESS JOURNAL NOW AT WilmingtonBiz.com/subscribe Your subscription includes: • Unlimited access to stories on WilmingtonBiz.com

PAGE

PUBLISHER’S NOTE

• Bi-weekly Business Journals mailed to your office or home

PAGE

13

IMAGES FROM THE AREA

• The 2019 Book on Business mailed to you

PAGE

RESOURCES TO RECOVERY

5

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• At least 20 extra IQ points with your added business knowledge!

Index PHOTO BY MICHAEL CLINE SPENCER

Preparing for takeoff: Julie Wilsey, director of the Wilmington International Airport, stands outside the facility where an expansion is set to take place over the next few years to accommodate growth.

ILM’S NEXT FLIGHT PLAN

BY CHRISTINA HALEY O’NEAL anding a third carrier and new flights at the Wilmington International Airport triggered unprecedented growth in passenger traffic last year. The new additions came as the airport embarks on its $60 million expansion that will increase ILM’s ability to handle more travelers in the coming years. Just over 934,000 passengers flew through the airport in 2018, 12 percent more than the previous year’s record. And that was despite a winter storm last January, a series of flight cancellations in the summer because of PSA Airlines’ technical issues nationwide and major disruption due to Hurricane Florence in September. Officials are now eyeing a milestone mark this year. “One million is an exciting number for us,” Airport Director Julie Wilsey said. “As we get closer, or break that 1 million passenger mark, it opens a lot of opportunities for ILM.” ILM wants to grow the airport but at the same time maintain that small-town, Southern charm that it has been known for, said Gary Broughton, the airport’s deputy director.

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“Our growth has been well thought out,” he said. Pushing the airport expansion forward is the biggest focus for ILM officials in 2019, with construction underway over several contracts between now and 2022. The airport is expected to grow from 95,000 square feet to more than 173,000 square feet, based on the most recent designs, and would be able to accommodate an estimated 705,000 outbound passengers a year, when the expansion is complete. There are times at ILM now when areas of the airport are reaching capacity, Wilsey said. “We need to get the building expanded so we can support more services and more passengers as the airport grows,” Wilsey said. And as ILM gains more travelers and more capacity, possibilities open up for the regional airport. That includes employing more people. Currently, there are about 480 people working there, 50 of whom are ILM staff, Broughton said. ILM will need to hire more help in the future, but just how much help is still being determined, he said. Airport officials continue in 2019 to market for addi-

See ILM, page 13

Economic Indicators ............................. 3 Technology ............................................ 4 The List ................................................. 5 Hospitality ............................................ 6 In Profile ..............................................10 Real Estate ..........................................14 Business of Life ............................. 22-23

SUBSCRIBE NOW SUBSCRIBE TO THE BUSINESS JOURNAL NOW AT WilmingtonBiz.com/subscribe Your subscription includes: • Unlimited access to stories on WilmingtonBiz.com • Bimonthly Business Journals, quarterly WilmingtonBiz Magazine and the 2021 Book on Business mailed to your office or home in January • At least 20 extra IQ points with your added business knowledge!

PHOTO BY MICHAEL CLINE SPENCER

Standstill: Greenfield Lake, shown above, was to host Scotty McCreery’s sold-out concert this month, but it was postponed as officials looked to try and prevent the spread of the new coronavirus. Events around the region were rescheduled or canceled, as classrooms and attractions also closed their doors to keep people apart.

CORONAVIRUS CONCERNS BRING CAPE FEAR REGION TO A STANDSTILL BY CECE NUNN he Greenfield Lake Amphitheater would have been filled with country music fans March 13. They would have been listening to former American Idol star Scotty McCreery singing live, probably crooning along at some point to the North Carolina native’s biggest hit, “Five More Minutes.” But before then, the five minutes were up for the Wilmington area, the state and the nation when it came to gatherings like concerts. It was another way everyone’s lives, and the way people do business, shifted rapidly this month as public health officials and governments put in place drastic measures to help slow the exponential spread of COVID-19. The highly contagious form of the

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coronavirus, especially deadly to the elderly and immune system-compromised, is expected to affect the local, U.S. and global economy for an undetermined length of time. Not even a hurricane. “There’s a clear end to a hurricane or most other natural disasters,” said Adam Jones, regional economist with the University of North Carolina Wilmington. “I don’t know, and I’m not sure anybody knows, what the end of the virus looks like.” Already, the virus has had a profound impact on one of the area’s major industries: tourism (for more see page 6). The N.C. Azalea Festival, set for April 1-5, was canceled for the first time in its more than 70-year history, and organizers were expecting 200,000 people to attend and spend money in the Wilmington

FA L L 2020

area as a result of the event. Area cancellations came in quick succession in the following days, including CFCC’s Wilson Center suspending its events for the next month. On March 16, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended that for the following eight weeks, organizers cancel or postpone in-person events consisting of 50 people or more throughout the U.S. as a means of controlling the spread. The recommendation came after Gov. Roy Cooper ordered that mass gatherings of 100 people or more be canceled in North Carolina and all schools in the state be closed, beginning March 16, for at least two weeks. On March 17, Cooper issued a See VIRUS, page 8

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SOUND OFF

2020InBiz

TWENTY YEARS OF PROGRESS AND A SHORTFALL

F

LYING INTO WILMINGTON FOR THE FIRST TIME IN 2007, I KEPT WAITING TO SEE A BREAK IN THE TREES.

R O B K A I S E R

The plane had already started descending before some buildings came into view. We landed a few minutes later without seeing many signs of commerce. For someone in search of a vibrant business community, it wasn’t a promising start. Driving around downtown, PPD’s massive, modern, soon-to-open headquarters appeared like an alien installation amid all the historic buildings. Common wisdom in the Business Journal world was these types of publications wouldn’t work in markets this small. A lot of business news revolves around public companies and high-flying upstarts. In 2000, when Joy Allen started Greater Wilmington Business (“Journal” would be added later), Mayfaire was still four years away from its grand opening and any reference to a live oak related to trees. Still, the publication quickly filled a need with coverage of real estate, hospitality, health care, finance and other important local industries. Soon after that 2007 flight, I bought the Business Journal as well as WILMA magazine from Joy, and the vibrancy of our business community hasn’t disappointed (aside from that missing megaport in Brunswick County.) Looking at our region on this 20-year anniversary of the Business Journal, two things stand out – we’ve made impressive progress, and we need

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to get our act together. First, the good news. Large corporations with a long-standing, significant presence in our region such as Corning, GE, Verizon and PPD are still major contributors to the local economy. Health care, hospitality, higher education and real estate continue drawing people and their wallets to our area. Our technology sector took several big steps forward, particularly with the creation of Live Oak Bank and its offshoots, including nCino, Apiture and the $545 million fintech fund Canapi Ventures. Beyond the Live Oak universe, CastleBranch sprouted from cramped Cotton Exchange offices to two large buildings near Mayfaire and created tekMountain to fuel other upstarts. Several more tech firms, including Untappd and PlayerSpace, grew up in Wilmington and had successful exits. And numerous others, such as Vantaca and Lapetus Solutions, show great promise. Significant public investments also prompted progress. These include the Wilmington Convention Center, North Waterfront Park, UNCW’s marine biotech center (MARBIONC) and Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE), CFCC’s Union Station and Wilson Center as well as expansions at NHRMC, ILM airport and the Port of

M A G A Z I N E

Wilmington. In the past 20 years, individual companies and institutions have shown an ability to take on big initiatives. Yet – moving on to our shortfall – we have not shown an ability to move forward collectively on community-wide business issues. Our region still does not have a coherent, widely adopted strategy to attract and grow companies in targeted industries that provide high-paying jobs, which are widely needed in our community. We should put significant resources, money and talent into this effort. While we market our region to attract tourists, we don’t do the same to attract companies and entrepreneurs. We should speak loudly about why our community is a great place for business. We have good stories to tell. Getting this done will take a collective effort by elected officials in Wilmington and the surrounding counties, major institutions like UNCW and CFCC, large employers like NHRMC and Live Oak as well as organizations like the Wilmington Chamber of Commerce, Wilmington Business Development and members of The Coalition of business support groups. This is a particularly timely topic. COVID-19 shutdowns have individuals and companies nationwide rethinking where their headquarters and workers are located. Our lack of organization and silence about our region’s accomplishments in the past 20 years is limiting our potential for the next 20 years. I hope we figure it out, and everyone flying into ILM in 2040 sees the results. Rob Kaiser is the publisher of Greater Wilmington Business Journal.


2020InBiz

SOUND OFF

CRYSTAL BALL OF MUD & MAYBES

“T

WENTY TWENTY, A YEAR OF PLENTY …”

Let’s just count that as a miss when trying to forecast the future. Okay, that quip was uttered in response to a playful jab, “lean and mean in 2019” over lunch, but I certainly didn’t see the chaos of 2020 coming. All prognostications should be taken with a grain of salt. Nonetheless, we should be watching and thinking about what the future might bring so we can be prepared for it. As we look forward, we should be careful about falling victim to recency bias and overweighting current events and aberrations, how many times have you heard the term “new normal”? After 9/11 there was speculation that the airline industry would never be the same, prepandemic, air travel was up over 35% from the pre-9/11 peak. When looking toward the future, we should ask why the past was the way it was and what might cause the future to be different? Let’s briefly consider three different forces that may well drive change in our region over the next 20 years: Demographics, technology and trade. One force for change over the next 20 years will be the aging of the population. By 2040, 81 million Americans are projected to be 65 or older – that’s roughly one out of every five, up from one out of seven currently. Southeastern North Carolina is likely so see an even more dramatic shift in our demographics if Brunswick continues to attract retirees and New Hanover County’s fewer than average residents under 18 means fewer 30-yearolds in 20 years.

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A D A M J O N E S However, the University of North Carolina Wilmington provides a strong flow of young talent into the region. If we’re able to retain some of those graduates, they could become our young families and entrepreneurs over the next two decades. A more likely scenario is that the population will skew older over the next 20 years, shifting employment toward services such as health care and financial services, obvious needs, but also inconspicuous consumption of our more senior residents such as veterinary services for their pets. As we age, our consumption patterns change and the population skews older, so will our employment mix to serve those residents. An often feared but ever-expanding force of change is technology and artificial intelligence. We have likely all thought about what technology might mean for our industries; we should also think about what it might mean for the region. A recent article in the American Economic Review suggests some lessons from England’s violent riots of the 1830s following the adoption of threshing machines. Similar to today, new technology disrupted the labor market, enough so that riots erupted, but not everywhere. The riots were more likely to have occurred in areas most affected by threshers, but, critically, not in areas close to urban employment centers. Social upheaval was most likely when displaced workers had no alternatives, a lesson that we should take M A G A Z I N E

to heart today. It will be crucial for us to think about how to create new opportunities as apps become substitutes for hotel clerks, concierge services and even cashiers (and maybe even college professors). Rapid change and the need for workers to retool might also force us to rethink education and move from bundled packages to certificate programs or just-in-time credentialing. If cable television can unbundle, so can education. Finally, trade and specialization are likely to continue as well. As Matt Ridley points out, it wasn’t that long ago, in relative terms, that it was possible to know everything there was to know. Today, careers are becoming increasingly technical and specialized. Physicians are a great example of this trend. In the 1950s, 7% of new physicians went into subspecialists; now it’s over 80%. As knowledge expands, so does the incentive to specialize. As specialization continues, consumers may have to shop outside their region for the specific service or good they are searching for – have you tried to find a camera store recently? Our specialties are likely to include services and businesses that include sand and water, where we have, what economists call, a comparative advantage. As we look forward, I’d encourage you to look back, ask your 20-year younger self where you thought you would be today, and then smile; life is an amazing journey, might as well enjoy the ride. Adam Jones is a regional economist with UNCW’s Swain Center and an associate professor of economics in UNCW’s Cameron School of Business.


C a p e Fe a r

2020InBiz

HINDSIGHT

20/20 2000

20 20

CURRENTS

IN BIZ

• Having made it through Y2K unscathed,

the region kicks off the 2000s.

• Independence Mall undergoes an overhaul, expanding to 1.1 million square feet.

Looking back at the events and trends that shaped the past 20 years

2001

• Impacts from the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks reverberate across the region.

2002

• The N.C Aquarium at Fort Fisher opens after a two year, $16 million construction project. • Post 9/11, the Port of Wilmington receives federal money to ramp up security at the facility.

2003

• Carolina Beach gets its first major national chain hotel, a 144-room Courtyard by Marriott. • Delta Air Lines starts regional jet service at of ILM, replacing its 30-passenger turboprop planes.

2004

• Verizon Wireless breaks ground on its call center building. • PPD announces plans to build a headquarters on the northern riverfront in downtown Wilmington.

2005

• The town of Leland voluntarily annexes

5,000 acres for Brunswick Forest.

• GE announces a $77 million expansion plan for its nuclear energy and aircraft engine operations in Wilmington.

2006

• Novant Health takes over management of Brunswick Community Hospital. The hospital would later move in 2011 to a newly built facility in Bolivia. • The N.C. State Ports Authority buys 600 acres near Southport for about $30 million to build the proposed N.C. International Terminal. Four years later the project was put on hold.

On some issues, Southeastern North Carolina has seen dramatic changes in the past two decades. Developments changed the landscape; new employers set up shop. But the area also has weathered ups and downs. A recession and now pandemic have strained some sectors, while other years saw leaps of growth. Here’s an overview of the region since 2000 and some clues looking ahead to 2040.

POPULATION HOUSING FORECAST BEHIND THE NUMBERS:

Rapid population growth was a key story of the region’s development in the past 20 years. Brunswick County in particular saw droves of retirees moving into new residential communities in the years ahead of the Great Recession, which started in 2007 nationally. When the housing market burst, parts of Brunswick County were dotted with so-called zombie developments, or partially finished neighborhoods. A decade later, the region’s real estate activity had fully rebounded, hitting a record high for home sales in 2017. And the coronavirus, which has wreaked havoc on many sectors this year, hasn’t slowed down real estate as buyers take advantage of low interest rates and pent-up demand. Brunswick County remains the fastest-growing county in North Carolina when looking at the percent growth of population between 2010 and 2018. Nationally, Brunswick County ranks as the fourth fastest-growing during those years among counties of populations of 20,000 or more.

w i l m i n g t o n b i z m a g a z i n e . c o m

HEAD COUNT

Past population counts & projected figures 350K

NEW HANOVER

300K

PENDER

309,830

BRUNSWICK

239,272

210,202

250K 200K

160,307

146,135

150K 100K

86,480

73,143

50K 41,082

64,578 PROJECTED FIGURES

2000 2005 2010 2015 2020 2025 2030 2035 2039 SOURCE: U.S. CENSUS BUREAU, N.C. STATE DEMOGRAPHER'S OFFICE

AT HOME Forecasted demand for housing units (New Hanover County)* 200K

*PROJECTED UNDER A NORMAL ECONOMY THAT IS NEITHER CONTRACTING OR EXPANDING

153,337

150K 100K 50K

120,607 93,375

PROJECTED FIGURES*

2000 2005 2010 2015 2020 2025 2030 2035 2040 SOURCE: METRO FORECASTING MODELS

FA L L 2020

15


HINDSIGHT 20/20

2020InBiz

COVID DISRUPTION

stores, however, saw an increase in spending as people were stuck at home and many businesses figured out how to function with a remote workforce. As the months have passed, restrictions have eased for some businesses, while others, such as bars, remain closed under state orders. Several local organizations are involved in some way in ongoing national clinical trials for a vaccine, including PPD, Trial Management Associates and Wrightsville Family Practice. Here is how the virus has tracked locally for cases.

BEHIND THE NUMBERS:

While many of the area’s economic indicators were on the upswing in recent years – from airport passenger levels to sales tax collections – the emergence of the coronavirus in the region in March of 2020 brought an abrupt halt to many activities. As stay-at-home orders were put in place to try and slow the contagious virus’s spread, event venues, restaurants and non-essential stores saw their sales dry up overnight. Events and concerts were put on hold starting in the spring. Grocery and home improvement

COVID-19 CASES CUMULATIVE CASES IN NEW HANOVER AND BRUNSWICK COUNTIES 1,000

3/14 3/19 4/01 4/15 4/30 5/15 5/31 6/15 6/30 7/15 8/01 8/15 8/31 9/15

2,000

3,000

4,000

5,000

Brunswick County first reported case New Hanover County first reported case 22

NEW HANOVER

418

205

2,800

864

4,100

1,499

SOURCE: NEW HANOVER COUNTY HEALTH DEPARTMENT; BRUNSWICK COUNTY HEALTH DEPARTMENT

HOSPITALIZATIONS TO DATE

PATIENTS DISCHARGED

PATIENTS WHO DIED WHILE HOSPITALIZED

1,700

232

FROM SEVEN-COUNTY REGION (AS OF SEPT. 11) SOURCE: NHRMC

498

39

BRUNSWICK 96

NHRMC COVID HOSPITALIZATIONS PATIENTS

23

61

AVERAGE DAILY NUMBER OF PATIENTS HOSPITALIZED (MOST RECENT)

STATS SNAPSHOT FOR DOWNTOWN DEALINGS ADOWNTOWN WILMINGTON

THEN / 2000

NOW / FY2020

PEOPLE EMPLOYED BY DOWNTOWN BUSINESSES 8,000

NEW BUSINESSES

29

NEW FULL-TIME EQUIVALENT JOBS

98

NEW ENTREPRENEUR VENTURES

10

BUSINESS EXPANSIONS/RETENTIONS

8

OCCUPIED OFFICE SPACE

650 K sqft

OCCUPIED RETAIL SPACE

490 K sqft

OCCUPIED ABOVE-STORE RESIDENTIAL SPACE

360 K sqft

OCCUPIED GOVERNMENT & INSTITUTIONAL SPACE

1 M sqft

PROJECTS UNDER CONSTRUCTION OR ANNOUNCED

11,000

BUILDING RENOVATION AND CONSTRUCTION PROJECTS

DAYTIME POPULATION

1 MILE RADIUS OF FRONT AND MARKET

NEW FINANCIAL INVESTMENT

$109.9 M $379.1 M 131

SOURCE: DOWNTOWN AREA REVITALIZATION EFFORT; WILMINGTON DOWNTOWN INC.

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M A G A Z I N E

2007

• Military Cutoff Road is widened from two lanes to four. The corridor becomes a bank magnet, attracting 17 banks in the area near Eastwood Road.

2008

• After years of discussion about the site, funding and other issues, work begins on the Wilmington Convention Center. • Voters approve a $164 million bond issue allowing CFCC to expand downtown and at its North Campus.

2009

• The national economic meltdown ripples through the local economy, underpinning the construction and real estate industries, prompting the area’s unemployment rate to jump up and causing some businesses to close their doors for good. • The N.C. Commissioner of Banks closes locally based Cooperative Bank and Cape Fear Bank.

2010

• North Carolina ups its film tax incentive package as it competes with other states for productions. The tax credits ended in 2014 and were replaced by a grant program. • The debate over Titan Cement and its proposed plant in Castle Hayne heats up as opponents question potential air and water emissions. The company in 2016 backed away from the plans to build, saying it didn’t need the extra production capacity.

2011

• The Hammerheads brings its semiprofessional soccer team games to the Port City. The team disbanded in 2017.

2012

• A proposal to bring Atlanta Braves minor league baseball franchise to Wilmington dries up after the proposal to build a baseball stadium fails by a large margin in a voter referendum.

2013

• The federal government drops Brunswick County from the Wilmington MSA, a move some officials are trying to restore with the 2020 Census. • DAK Americas closes its Navassa plant, laying off 600 workers.


HINDSIGHT 20/20

2020InBiz

ON THE ROAD

AVERAGE DAILY TRAFFIC COUNTS NEAR SOME OF THE AREA’S MAJOR INTERSECTIONS (IN 1999 AND 2017/18)

MLK JR. PKWY

3

17

4

EAS TW

OO

EGE AN

DER

CO LL

OLE

DR

ST

DR

RD

MARKET ST

KET

MAR

1

D

2015

• Locally headquartered Live Oak Bank goes public on the Nasdaq.

5

2016

• Officials approve a $2.1 million project to extend water and sewer along U.S. 421, opening up the corridor to potentially draw new industrial companies. • Riverlights, a 1,400-acre project to include a mix of homes, commercial space and public parks, opens.

132

THEN 1

CH EA

AB RD

2

BEHIND THE NUMBERS:

When asked what’s the No. 1 issue he’s heard about from residents over the years, Wilmington Mayor Bill Saffo says traffic, hands down. Along with more people and more business growth, more vehicles also joined the roadways. Transportation planners and local officials have been trying to keep up since. Here’s a look at changes to some of the main arteries in recent years. The counts are intended to show traffic levels on an average day; not holidays when beachgoers flood into the area. In the past couple of decades, two major road projects were finished – the MLK Jr. Parkway and Wilmington Bypass. “Both projects were new roads and would have had major impacts on the traffic volumes at various intersections, which may appear to not have considerable growth Wi

l m i n g t o n

(2017/18)

%INCREASE

COLLEGE & OLEANDER DR

75,000

64,000

14.7%

43,500

61,000

40.2%

52,500*

74,500

41.9%

2 COLLEGE & CAROLINA BEACH RD

C/O GOOGLE MAPS

18

NOW

(1999)

IN

OL

R CA

COLLEGE RD

421

• Next Glass opens its HQ in a renovated building in downtown Wilmington. The app company made a deal with an equity firm earlier this year. • As tensions mount between him and UNCW trustees, chancellor Gary Miller leaves the university for a job out of state. Jose Sartarelli starts in the role the next year.

MILITARY CUTOFF

74

6

74

N COLLEGE RD

421

SOURCE: NCDOT

2014

B

3 N COLLEGE & MLK JR. PKWY 4

MARKET ST & EASTWOOD RD

64,500

5

1.6%

MILITARY CUTOFF & EASTWOOD RD

43,000

6

65,500 63,000

46.5%

US 421 & US 74/76

25,500

44,000

72.5%

*THE INTERSECTION OF N. COLLEGE RD. AND MLK JR. PARKWAY DIDN’T HAVE TRAFFIC COUNTS AVAILABLE UNTIL 2006.

in the last 20 years based on the data alone,” pointed out Katie Hite, division project development engineer for NCDOT’s division that covers the Cape Fear region. “For example, in 1999, all traffic passing through Wilmington had to use either Market Street or Oleander to go downtown and cross the river. Now, we have an extra river crossing, and MLK takes a lot of that traffic away from the city.” i z

M A G A Z I N E

2017

• News breaks that an unregulated chemical known as GenX is in the region’s drinking water. Chemours Co. discloses that GenX has been discharged into the river for more than 30 years, and the issue becomes the focus of filed lawsuits and consent orders. • CFCC President Amanda Lee resigns, and the school settles a lawsuit filed by her predecessor, Ted Spring. Jim Morton becomes head of the community college in 2018.

2018

• Hurricane Florence brings widespread flooding and damage when it makes landfall Sept. 14. Power outages affected thousands, and much of the area was cut off from outside routes for days until flooded roadways cleared. • Vertex Railcar Corp., which came to town in 2014 pledging to create more than 1,300 jobs that didn’t materialize, reached the end of its line at its Raleigh Street site.

2019

• New Hanover Regional Medical Center and New Hanover County officials announce plans to explore a potential sale for the county-owned hospital. Negotiations now are underway on a deal with Novant Health, with votes on the contract expected to take place in October. • Wilmington International Airport hits a milestone of 1 million passengers for the year.

2020

• Banking software company nCino, a spinoff of Live Oak Bank, goes public and starts trading on the Nasdaq. • The coronavirus global pandemic reaches the Cape Fear region.


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R E A L E STAT E IN T HE W IL M IN GTO N A R E A IS BI G B U S IN E S S , F R O M T HE S ALE O F HO U S E S A S M O R E PE OP LE DE S IR E TO L IVE HE R E , TO PA RT S O F TO W N W HE R E CO M M E R C IA L R E A L E STATE HA S B E E N B O O M IN G IN RECENT YEARS. T HE FACT T HAT R E A L E STATE F IR M S L IKE N E ST R E A LTY ( P ICT U R E D) WA N T TO B E A LO N G O R N E A R M IL ITARY C U TO F F A N D E A ST W O OD R OA DS S HO W S HO W IN F LU E N T IA L T HAT S U B M ARKE T – W IT H IT S O F F IC E B U ILDI N GS, DIN IN G A N D S HO P P IN G, LU XU R Y HO M E S A N D P R OXIM IT Y TO W R IG HTSVI LLE B E AC H – HA S B E CO M E FOR T HE O N E -T IM E FA R M L A N D.

20 20

IN BIZ

REAL ESTATE

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BY CECE NUNN

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PHOTOS BY TERAH WILSON


2 0 2 0 I N R E A L E S TAT E

T

WENTY YEARS AGO, A MAJOR DEVELOPMENT WAS ON ITS WAY TO WHERE COWS USED TO GRAZE.

That’s why Wayne Clark led efforts to create the city’s first mixed-use ordinance in 1999, because of the possibility of new development replacing nearly 400 acres of farmland on Military Cutoff Road in New Hanover County. City officials at the time didn’t want a repeat of the sprawl on corridors like South College Road. “The question the city council members had asked me at the end of 1999 – they were aware that the Hardy Parker Farm was for sale – was, ‘How do we do something out there that’s different from the other major roads,’” said Clark, who was the city of Wilmington’s planning manager and is now New Hanover’s planning chief. “They were not interested in more standard street frontage retail with houses behind it. The direction they gave me at the time was, ‘Go write some kind of zoning that would make it easier for them to do some kind of integrated mixed-use project.’” Clark did so, and five years later, the first store opened at Mayfaire Town Center, part of a development that includes Mayfaire Community Center, offices, apartments, condominiums and homes. “I don’t think we anticipated the regional impact of Mayfaire,” Clark said. The mixed-use community on Military Cutoff Road referred to collectively as Mayfaire is not as bustling as it was a year ago, in large part because of the coronavirus pandemic but also because of online shopping and the ever-changing tastes of consumers. w i l m i n g t o n b i z m a g a z i n e . c o m

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2 0 2 0 I N R E A L E S TAT E

The worldwide health and economic crisis has kept some customers away, left some offices nearly empty as employees work remotely and continued, as of September, to keep the anchor movie theater closed at Mayfaire Town Center. But people still live in and around Mayfaire and shop each day at the town center and adjacent Mayfaire Community Center, which is anchored by a Harris Teeter grocery store. And the development has influenced other commercial and residential areas throughout the Wilmington area. A little more than two decades ago, the plan began to take shape for Mayfaire, something that had no equal in the region at the time. “This town center concept had been tried in a few markets but predominantly very large markets,” said H.J. Brody, whose company, BrodyCo. Inc., partnered with Zimmer Development to create Mayfaire Town Center and Mayfaire Community Center. “It intrigued us.” The Brody Co.-Zimmer group was just one of the bidders for the Hardy Parker Farm site. “We were just fortunate that after talking to the owner and explaining our vision and putting together the right team, [owner Mabel Weeks, Hardy Parker’s widow] selected us to buy the land. We went under contract with her in July 1999,” Brody said. “Twenty-one years down the road, and I think that if you look back at our initial boards and if you look back at what the urban land planner said would be good for the area, I think that’s what we produced in a first-class fashion.” The partners paid nearly $10 million for 300 acres in 2000. Nineteen years later, Wilmingtonbased development firm Swain & Associates paid a little over $13 million for 23 acres at the intersection of Eastwood and Military Cutoff roads. For that land, adjacent to Mayfaire Community Center, Swain

One of The Offices at Mayfaire buildings behind Mayfaire Community Center is shown under construction in this file photo.

& Associates has been planning a more than $250 million mixed-use development called CenterPoint. The building blocks for a successful higher-end shopping area combined with housing and offices were already there off Military Cutoff and Eastwood roads, including Landfall, a 2,200-acre gated community developed in the mid1980s that now holds some of the priciest real estate in the region. Landfall, along with Wrightsville Beach’s evolution into a community where some homeowners live there year-round, helped create the demographics necessary for a development like Mayfaire, which then influenced subsequent projects and job creation, said developer Raiford Trask III, president of Trask Land Co. Trask’s father initiated the development of the mixed-use project Autumn Hall on Eastwood Road, something Trask III continues to help develop today. Construction of the 235-acre development Autumn Hall began in 2007, three years after the first store at Mayfaire opened. “I think Mayfaire set the bar and helped solidify that Military Cutoff and Eastwood are the new center of town and will be going forward,” Trask said. Other developers agree. “As Wilmington’s first largescale planned development beyond the shopping mall model, Mayfaire has been extraordinarily successful, and it opened the door

w i l m i n g t o n b i z m a g a z i n e . c o m

RINGING REGISTERS RETAIL SALES ACTIVITY IN THE REGION: FY2000 VS. FY2020 FY2000

FY2020

APPAREL NEW HANOVER

$89,928,321 $175,039,046

BRUNSWICK

$24,927,970 $43,365,967

PENDER $3,738,613 $11,249,464

AUTOMOTIVE NEW HANOVER

$555,082,355 $318,432,671

BRUNSWICK

$86,221,144 $111,542,587

PENDER $52,974,039 $35,864,044

FOOD NEW HANOVER

$555,082,355 $826,995,115

BRUNSWICK

$206,303,816 $322,672,616

PENDER $86,068,648 $91,998,251 SOURCE: N.C. DEPARTMENT OF REVENUE

CONTINUED | PG26

FA L L 2020

25


2 0 2 0 I N R E A L E S TAT E

CONTINUED FROM PG24

RINGING REGISTERS RETAIL SALES ACTIVITY IN THE REGION: FY2000 VS. FY2020

This aerial photo from 2012 shows commercial activity in the Mayfaire area.

FY2000

FY2020

FURNITURE NEW HANOVER

$145,030,846 $193,332,174

BRUNSWICK

$17,000,838 $75,081,684

PENDER $3,307,213 $19,149,102

GENERAL MERCHANDISE

NEW HANOVER to combining a variety of uses into the same development,” said Jeff Kentner, owner of Charlotte-based development firm State Street, which created two major residential portions of Mayfaire. “A single-use approach to development, which contributes to Wilmington’s traffic congestion woes, is no longer a viable model.” State Street developed both The Village at Mayfaire and The Reserve at Mayfaire, two multifamily projects. Mayfaire would likely not be created the same if it were on the drawing table today, said Kentner, who also has some criticisms. “Mayfaire is not a true mixeduse development. It is a sprawling, multi-use project on 400 acres,” he said. “In hindsight, Mayfaire was not a good use of a tract that size, but it was better than the development pattern that previously existed in Wilmington. Mayfaire is far too dependent on vehicular transportation and actually contributes to traffic congestion. Had it been developed as a denser, walkable, mixed-use development with structured parking, it would have relieved traffic congestion, not contributed to it.” Kentner takes issue with the

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amount of parking. “Mayfaire has way too much surface parking due to the minimum parking requirements in the MX zoning district. The sprawling parking lots in Mayfaire can accommodate shopping the day after Thanksgiving and then some 365 days a year, which is a poor utilization of land,” Kentner said. “My hunch is that over time, portions of those surface parking lots may be converted to structured parking as a means to add additional uses to the project.” Glenn Harbeck, the city of Wilmington’s director of planning, development and transportation, said Mayfaire “rejuvenated interest in outdoor shopping in a street environment as opposed to an indoor mall.” “You’re seeing the long-term influence of it on the renovation of Independence Mall [which has been the Wilmington area’s largest indoor shopping center] to more of an indoor-outdoor facility,” he said. Harbeck said Mayfaire’s not perfect but was “good for its day. I think there’s still some pretty large parking fields around the development, which are not ideal.” M A G A Z I N E

$771,103,148 $1,282,777,506

BRUNSWICK

$198,746,313 $483,757,196

PENDER $36,739,243 $164,817,112

LUMBER NEW HANOVER

$315,383,932 $781,744,039

BRUNSWICK

$89,088,277 $376,225,266

PENDER $19,283,775 $110,008,579

UNCATEGORIZED NEW HANOVER

$606,249,254 $1,418,038,286

BRUNSWICK

$128,695,400 $576,815,602

PENDER $30,682,482 $139,859,233 SOURCE: N.C. DEPARTMENT OF REVENUE


SUPPORTING

BUILDERS FOR

OVER

20 YEARS

COMMERCIAL & RESIDENTIAL RENDERINGS FLOOR PLANS | VIRTUAL STAGING | MARKETING

Local Wilmington NC Design Studio | RedEarthMarketing.com | 910.777.1141


2 0 2 0 I N R E A L E S TAT E

That said, another strength of Mayfaire is “that it is well connected to the area around it. People from some of the older residential areas on Eastwood Road can still get to Mayfaire without ever getting out on the main road,” Harbeck said. Kentner said the infrastructure is in place to do more with Mayfaire and its surface lots and that infrastructure “should be taken advantage of, particularly given the short supply of developable land.” “Like it or not, the population is growing rapidly, and intelligent landuse decisions must be made now in order to address the growing number of people moving to the area,” he said. “There are no ‘do-overs’ when it comes to land-use decisions.” New Hanover County and the city of Wilmington, along with other municipalities and counties in the area, have been revamping their land-use plans and development regulations as they aim to prepare for more growth. In addition to attracting new residents and influencing other developments in the region over time, the creations of the Mayfaire area also led to more jobs in what has become a major regional financial sector. Before the COVID-19 crisis began, New Hanover County officials recently looked at where most jobs are located in the county and found that the Military Cutoff and Eastwood road section of town had the third-largest cluster behind midtown Wilmington where New Hanover Regional Medical Center is located and downtown Wilmington. “I don't think we realized it would end up being one of the larger employment hubs of the region outside the service industry,” Clark said, referring to the days when Mayfaire was still on the drawing board. “We were hoping for that, but I don't know that we thought it would be as successful as it was.” These days, the pandemic comes into play in any discussion about commercial real estate. “COVID-19 has placed a ton of stress on the retail sector and expedited the

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Amazon-initiated shift from traditional brick and mortar to e-commerce. However, if you drive through Mayfaire you will notice the parking lots are not empty,” said Cody Cress of The CRESS Group of Wilmington-based Coldwell Banker Commercial Sun Coast Partners. “People are still visiting the restaurants and cafes, although the experience has changed by focusing on dining al fresco, take-out and delivery. Grocery stores are thriving in this era.” In August, officials with CBL & Associates Properties, the Chattanooga, Tennessee-based firm that owns Mayfaire Town Center and manages Mayfaire Community Center, said the firm planned to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in October. They said day-today operations at their centers wouldn’t be affected. “There will likely be a recapitalization, restructuring of debt, perhaps a change of ownership and change in the tenant mix at Mayfaire,” said Cress, who is not affiliated with CBL & Associates Properties. “However, in the end, the Military Cutoff/Landfall submarket is a very desirable location to be in and will resume to the normal hustle and bustle as we gain control over COVID-19.”

M A G A Z I N E

HOME BUILDS ANNUAL NUMBER OF SINGLE-FAMILY HOMES BUILT IN NEW HANOVER COUNTY 500

1,000

2000

1,542

2001

1,512

2002

1,678

2003

829

2008 532

350

2010

416

2011

374 711

2013

906

2014

875

2015 2016

1,144 1,213 1,702

2017 2018 2019

2,056

1,263

2006

2012

2,500

2,187

2005

2009

2,000

2,253

2004

2007

1,500

1,270 1,047

SOURCE:NEW HANOVER COUNTY PLANNING AND LAND USE DEPARTMENT


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WHAT COMES NEXT?

W

HILE WILMINGTON’S GROWTH OVER THE PAST 20 YEARS HAS BEEN VERY EXCITING, I EXPECT THE NEXT TWO DECADES TO BE EVEN MORE COMPELLING.

D A V I D S W A I N

On the national stage, Wilmington has emerged as a best-in-class community with a vibrant history, cultural base and exceptional quality of life. As a segment of our country’s population transitions away from dense urban areas, they will look to communities like Wilmington to call home. Local investment we have been making in infrastructure (roadways, water/sewer, public spaces) will pay dividends, enabling Wilmington to flourish with the coming growth. These infrastructure investments will open new areas for development,

FROM THE ARCHIVES

especially in the northern part of the county where water and sewer access has been limited. As Wilmington continues to expand outward New Hanover County and Pender County will begin to grow together and will become more seamlessly integrated. Development within the city limits will become more robust as we transition away from old development paradigms to more dense, efficient mixed-use projects. The live, work, play model promises to be exciting, and more of these projects will become the norm as land prices rise and legacy properties are demolished and redeveloped. As

we focus on mixed-use projects with greater density, centralized shopping and living nodes will emerge. Each area will have unique characteristics and proximate goods and services. Residents will travel across town less frequently to do their shopping. Raleigh is a great example of this – the North Hills, Crabtree Valley and Briar Creek areas all have their own unique character and generally serve their geographic area. Similarly, the downtown, Mayfaire and Forest Hills areas will all continue to develop their own unique identities. Wilmington has a bright future, and we have much to look forward to! H. David Swain, owner of Swain & Associates, is a longtime Wilmington developer of shopping centers, office buildings and warehouses. He is working on a major mixed-use project at Military Cutoff and Eastwood roads called CenterPoint

“I nt’l Paper scales back 10,000-acre plan” – July 2000 Two decades ago, it looked like Brunswick County would soon grow by 10,000 dwellings in one development. International Paper owned nearly 5,000 acres in northern Brunswick, and the county’s planning board approved an IP plan that included 10,000 residential units and a lengthy list of amenities. Although the 10,000 units didn’t come to fruition as IP envisioned, a popular master planned community,

w i l m i n g t o n b i z m a g a z i n e . c o m

Brunswick Forest, did spring up in the fast-growing northern end of the county. That’s after IP sold the land around 2003 to Matt Long of Lord Baltimore Corp. and Jeff Earp. Since then Brunswick Forest has grown to about 3,000 residential units, mainly single-family homes but also some townhome duplexes, as well as a number of amenities that include a golf course, a fitness and wellness center, parks, trails and a boat launch. Brunswick Forest and

Brunswick County continue to grow, attracting retirees and those looking for value in a bedroom community of Wilmington and in other parts of Brunswick. The county often ranks as the fastest-growing in the state from year to year, including in 2019. From July 1, 2018, to July 1, 2019, it is estimated that the population of Brunswick County increased by 4% or 5,940 residents, according to county statistics. The figures also show that from 2010 to 2019, the county had a growth rate of 32%, gaining about 34,800 residents.

FA L L 2020

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A S T HE CA P E F E A R R E G ION ’ S P O P U L AT IO N S W E L L E D IN R E C E N T DE CA DE S S O DID HE A LT H CA R E S E R VIC E S . P HY S IC IA N A N D C L IN IC N U M B E R S IN C R E A S E D E VE N A S CO N S O L IDAT IO N C HA NGE D T HE A R E A’ S M E DICA L M A KE U P. N HR M C B E CA M E T HE R E G IO N ’ S L A R G E ST E M P LOY E R A N D M IG HT S O O N J O IN F O R C E S W IT H N OVA N T HE A LT H, DE P E N DIN G O N TH E O U TCO M E O F A N U P CO M I N G VOT E A B O U T T HE CO U N T YO W N E D HO S P ITA L’ S F U T URE – A DE C IS IO N T HAT CO U L D IM PACT T HE N E XT T W O DE CA DE S . A LO N G T HE WAY, T HE C L IN I CAL R E S E A R C H IN DU ST R Y IN W IL M IN GTO N S P R E A D, CO N T R IB U T IN G TO T HE VA R IO U S PA RT S O F T HE C L IN ICA L T R IA L A N D DR U G DE VE LO P M E N T P R O C E S S . B U T T HAT A L L STA RT E D WI TH A F E W KE Y P L AY E R S .

20 20

IN BIZ

HEALTH CARE

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Hunter Lewis works at Quality Chemical Laboratories, which started in 1998. PHOTO BY KEVIN KLEITCHES

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GROWING THE

PHARMA BASE

L

AUNCHING ITS SECOND INITIAL PUBLIC OFFERING IN ITS 35-YEAR HISTORY, WILMINGTON-BASED PPD INC. IN FEBRUARY DEBUTED ON THE NASDAQ, RAISING MORE THAN $1.6 BILLION.

The milestone in PPD’s journey builds on the growth the global contract research organization has experienced since its beginnings as a one-person firm in Maryland in 1985 to setting roots in the Port City the next year and building its name from the hub here for over three decades. But the advantages of having the firm here go beyond the $110 million investment in its worldwide headquarters downtown or the nearly 1,800 local jobs it provides today. The seeds planted by Fred Eshelman, founder of PPD, along with other local pioneer firms – aaiPharma, known today as Alcami, and Quality Chemical Laboratories – have helped sow a burgeoning sector in the Cape Fear region, said Randall Johnson, executive director of the N.C. Biotechnology Center Southeastern Office.“I think one of the most impressive things about the cluster is the diversity of companies in our local clinical research community – from small, entrepreneurial ventures to very large multinational corporations and various sizes in between,” Johnson said. “This diversity makes our cluster stronger overall, including helping with our talent attraction and retention in the area because employees have a wide range of choices for employers.” The contract research organization, or w i l m i n g t o n b i z m a g a z i n e . c o m

BY CHRISTINA HALEY O’NEAL

CRO, industry in Wilmington encompasses a variety of companies that conduct clinical trials and provide management and support services for the pharmaceutical industry. A range of other local pharmaceutical firms also helps this cluster in testing and manufacturing. Clinical research is an area of medicine that researches, tests and studies areas such as the safety, effectiveness and side effects of medications, vaccinations and other types of medical treatments. From the early area firms starting decades, the clinical research cluster has grown to more than 60 companies represented in the region – contract research organizations and contract manufacturing organizations – with about 3,300 people in the workforce, according to a 2019 report by the N.C. Coast Clinical Research Initiative. There are also support companies and employees that surround the field, as well as about 100 clinical trials ongoing in the area at any given time with medical practices and physicians conducting those trials, Johnson said. The numbers have grown significantly in recent years and are on an upward trajectory, he said. And despite the COVID-19 pandemic, many companies are adapting, finding work through coronavirus studies. Because many employees in the industry can live and work anywhere in the country, a number have chosen Wilmington for its quality of life as well as growing employment opportunities and support services. Johnson said. The quality-of-life aspect is what brought PPD here. Eshelman relocated PPD to Wilmington in 1986 and incorporated the firm in North Carolina in 1989. FA L L 2020

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CRO DEVELOPMENT THE CLINICAL RESEARCH INDUSTRY HAS GROWN IN RECENT YEARS IN SOUTHEASTERN NORTH CAROLINA, BOLSTERED BY MAJOR PLAYERS AND SMALLER UPSTARTS. HERE IS A SNAPSHOT OF THE INDUSTRY FROM 2019.

60 PPD SNAPSHOT

TOP OFFICIAL: David Simmons, chairman and CEO NO. OF EMPLOYEES: More than 24,000, with nearly 1,800 in Wilmington

Since then, the firm has grown to nearly 100 offices in 46 countries with more than 24,000 employees, making PPD one of the largest CROs in the world, current PPD Chairman and CEO David Simmons said. PPD, having started as a consulting firm, is now conducting drug development services for a variety of customers, ranging from pharmaceutical and biotechnology firms to government and academic institutions. “The IPO helped position us to continue to invest in innovation and differentiating services, from a strong financial foundation, to help our customers provide life-changing therapies and pursue our mission to improve health,” Simmons said recently. A significant portion of PPD’s history was as a publicly-traded organization. The company filed its first IPO in 1996, later returning to a private company in 2011 when it was acquired by affiliates of investment firms The Carlyle Group and Hellman & Friedman. Wilmington is one of PPD’s largest locations. It also has another North Carolina office in Morrisville in the Triangle with a similar employment

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NO. OF COUNTRIES WITH PPD OFFICES: 46 REVENUE: $1 BILLION IN Q2 2020 vs. $996.5 million in Q2 2019

size. “From our Wilmington headquarters and extending across our global organization, PPD has a long history of leadership in defining the CRO industry and innovating for the future, with the goal of helping customers speed safe and effective medical therapies to improve patient health,” Simmons said. Besides the IPO, PPD this year has been a player in vaccine studies for the coronavirus and in August signed a new three-year agreement with New Yorkbased pharmaceutical giant Pfizer Inc. to provide drug development services. “It has been encouraging to see how the rise of Wilmington’s life science community continues to strengthen and diversify the local economy, which we hope will create even more opportunity in the future,” Simmons said. Another early clinical firm for the area was aaiPharma, which started in Wilmington in 1986. Just a few years after the firm’s founder Frederick Sancilio retired, the company filed for bankruptcy in 2005. The firm emerged from bankruptcy, with Sancilio returning for a short stint with the company, which went through several different phases and ownership

M A G A Z I N E

CONTRACT RESEARCH ORGANIZATION AND CONTRACT MANUFACTURING ORGANIZATIONS

3,300

CLINICAL RESEARCH EMPLOYEES

60

CONTRACT RESEARCH SUPPORT COMPANIES

(DRUG DEVELOPMENT, MEDICAL DEVICES AND EQUIPMENT)

1,400

SUPPORT COMPANY EMPLOYEES

100 20

ONGOING CLINICAL RESEARCH TRIALS

MEDICAL PRACTICES CONDUCTING TRIALS

45

PHYSICIANS CONDUCTING TRIALS

SOURCE: N.C. BIOTECH CENTER SOUTHEASTERN OFFICE


Supporting Startup Success Every Step of the Way CIE opens in September

20 13 20 14

The Coalition is formed

20 17

Team-Based Mentor Program begins

20 18

Accelerator Fund launches and awards $23,000 to 10 ventures

Coastal Connect launches then later merges under Cucalorus Film Festival

Celebrating 10th Annual Coastal Entrepreneur Awards New year-long Youth Entrepreneurship Program for high school students NC IDEA ECOSYSTEM Partner designation

20 19 20 20

1 Million Cups launches in Wilmington Inaugural NC Bioneer Ventures Challenge awards $40,000

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2 0 2 0 I N H E A LT H CA R E

over the years. In late 2013, it merged with Cambridge Major Laboratories and later became Alcami Corp. in 2016. The pharmaceutical development, testing and manufacturing firm, which has executive offices in Wilmington and Durham, announced Walt Kaczmarek as its new CEO this year. Through these early companies, the area has lured in a significant pool of workers over the years. Some of them have branched out, starting their own entrepreneurial ventures or joining other firms that helped grow the industry’s base, Johnson said.

PPD EXPANSION MILESTONES

That was the case for Phil Dattilo, president of Wilmington-based Trial Management Associates LLC, who started in the industry with PPD in 2004 as an analyst and later joined TMA in 2011. The clinical research management company was started by entrepreneur Danny Gillis in 2010. Dattilo was recruited from PPD to join TMA with a small stake in the company and eventually bought the business in 2014. TMA is an 18-person firm today with a corporate office and a 5,000-square-foot research facility the firm moved into in August in midtown

1985

Fred Eshelman starts PPD as a one-person consulting firm

1980s

1996

1989

Files for its first initial public offering on Nasdaq

PPD incorporates in North Carolina

1986 Eshelman moves PPD to Wilmington and expands the company into development services

SOURCE: PPD INC.

Wilmington. It also works with four physician sites. “We will continue to grow in Wilmington. Our successful execution of the ongoing Moderna COVID vaccine trials and our continued success in gastroenterology and dermatology will allow us to win more groundbreaking research trials for the community,” he said. “Clinical trials are seemingly becoming larger and larger in terms of the number of patients required to determine the safety and efficacy of new therapies. Our new space will give us the foundation we need to meet the needs

1990s

1997

1995 Expands to Europe, Middle East and Africa

Expands to Asia-Pacific with a location in Australia

O

UR COMMITMENT to the health and well-being of our community is part of the fabric that drives the decisions we make every day at Wilmington Health. The core values of our organization include the words Respect, Integrity, Leadership, and Accountability.

• We use these ideals in the care we show our patients. • We use these ideals in supporting our community and moving it forward. • We use these ideals in the interactions we have with one another. In these times of uncertainty and confusion, our dedication is not only important for the thousands of patients that we serve, but also for our outstanding team members and their families. Because just like you, we live here, we work here, and we always will be committed to Wilmington in all ways.

always wilmingtonhealth.com

12397_05 wh Always WilmBiz Ad_7.333x4.542.indd 1

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7/31/20 12:27 PM


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of bigger trials.” The area’s clinical research footprint grew organically for about 20 years, but intentional focus to build it started around 2006, Johnson said. N.C. Biotech established its Southeastern office about that time, he said. And the University of North Carolina Wilmington’s School of Nursing has since helped build the clinical research talent pipeline with bachelor’s, master’s and postbaccalaureate certificate programs in clinical research. The support also includes the FuseCR (Center for Clinical Research 2005

Revenue exceeds $1 billion

Workforce Development) at UNCW, which is a partnership of groups focused on bringing together resources for the clinical research field. In addition, the N.C. Coast Clinical Research Initiative was formed as a partnership between N.C. Biotech, UNCW and local clinical research firms to provide for workforce development opportunities, including education and networking. The start of Quality Chemical Laboratories in 1998 was a natural evolution, between firm founder Yousry Sayed’s years of teaching and the area’s growing pharmaceutical

2008

2010

Expands into Russia and Ukraine with the purchase of a Russia-based CRO

2000s

2007

Opens 12-story global headquarters in Wilmington; worldwide employee headcount exceeds 10,000 employees

Spins off Furiex Pharmaceuticals

2010s

industry, to help foster the jobs and training students need, Sayed said. Sayed, president and CEO of the firm, started in the area consulting for pharmaceutical companies and teaching in the late 1970s and 1980s. He also has ties to UNCW. Today, Quality Chemical Laboratories’ breadth of business in the industry involves initial discovery, analytical studies, sample testing for raw materials and drug products and manufacturing. The firm is also looking to discover and develop new products, manufacturing technologies and drug delivery systems. 2020

2014

Forms joint venture to provide clinical development services in Japan

2019

2011

Acquired by The Carlyle Group and Hellman & Friedman affiliates, returning to a private company

Launches IPO on Nasdaq; announces plans to expand lab and clinical operations in China

2020s

Annual revenue hits $4 billion; acquires a clinical research site business and real-world evidence company

Taking You from Innovation to Commercialization State-of-the-art research facility containing wet lab and office spaces for lease. To learn more, email us at info@marbionc.org or visit uncw.edu/marbionc. UNCW is an EEO/AA institution. Questions regarding UNCW’s Title IX compliance should be directed to TitleIX@uncw.edu.

w i l m i n g t o n b i z m a g a z i n e . c o m

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Innovation has been a key component of Quality Chemical Laboratories in the past 23 years, Sayed said. “I look at what we have done as kind of a nucleus to what has made Wilmington what it is today for the industry,” Sayed said. “Part of our goal now is to try to basically have some new technologies in the manufacturing side, which will be developed in the next one to five years. “Also, we’re going to be bringing in manufacturing injectables, or sterile products, which is a very specialized area that requires a lot of technology, a lot of science, a lot of inspections from the FDA, and all that is going to be happening in our new building.” Much of the discovery will involve the evolution of Quality Chemical Laboratories’ sister company, Pyramid Pharmaceutical Co. LLC. The firms will be housed in a 90,000-square-foot addition to Quality Chemical Laboratories’ main facility in the North Chase area slated to be built over the next 16 months. But building a talent pipeline with the knowledge and skill set needed for the work that Quality Chemical Laboratories does has been one of the company’s biggest challenges, Sayed said. The company has about 250 people today but expects to need an additional 200 to 300 people in the coming years due to growth. “We’re going to be looking for a lot of people over the next couple of years, and I know it’s going to be a challenge because we need highly technical people and there is a lot of training that goes into taking someone from having a degree to being able to step in the industry and be productive,” Sayed said. To continue to capitalize on the area, however, Sayed said there’s also a need to expand infrastructure and technologies in Southeastern North Carolina to keep the region’s pharmaceutical sector growing for decades to come. “I think there is still some room for continued growth. I think we have to be mindful of providing infrastructure and help in attracting new technologies,” Sayed said. “We have a lot of reputation in what we do, what Alcami does, what PPD does, and all the other clinical trial companies … but I feel like there is definitely some room for attracting some technological advances that are still needed in this industry, something that will make this area unique.”

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FROM THE ARCHIVES “H ospital drives growth, both past and present” – A p r i l 2 0 0 2 The year 2000 kicked off a series of expansion projects for New Hanover Regional Medical Center, the county-owned hospital that opened in 1967. In the beginning of 2000, the new Zimmer Cancer Center was dedicated. The next year, an expanded emergency department opened, nearly doubling in size. In the following years more projects came online – the new Betty H. Cameron Women’s and Children’s Hospital, a surgical pavilion, a renovated patient tower, parking deck, medical building at Brunswick Forest and a heart and vascular tower at the hospital’s main campus on 17th Street. Besides the long string of construction projects and service expansions, NHRMC also grew its employee base and revenues – enough to make it an attractive acquisition for outside health groups. In 2002, NHRMC was New Hanover County’s largest employer with about 3,500 employees (another 570 were at Cape Fear Hospital, now known as NHMRC Orthopedic Hospital). Today the health system – it added a physician group along the way – counts about 7,500 employees. Back then, the medical center had more than 26,800 admissions

during its 2001 fiscal year. “We’re now serving the most patients in our history,” Scott Whisnant, then-hospital spokesman, said at the time. In a few weeks hospital trustees and county commissioners are expected to vote on whether to sell NHRMC to Winston-Salem-based Novant Health. If the deal is approved, more than $1 billion would go to a community foundation for the county to address issues ranging from school system needs to police training. “I’ve said this before, and it’s fair because I’ve kind of sat in their seat before,” said former Wilmington Mayor Spence Broadhurst, who co-chaired the Partnership Advisory Group that waded through the request for proposal process after the county and hospital said in 2019 they were exploring the possibility of selling. “It’s not often that elected officials give away power and money, and they’ve done both in this case because it’s the right thing to do for our community. “I don't think we’ve begun to grasp the impact that the proceeds from that money will do to our community going forward. I think it’s going to be dramatic.”


Veterans Hall It’s not just a building. It’s state of the art laboratories, simulation learning, and real-world client interactions.

uncw.edu/chhs

It’s research and engaging the community.

2010-2020

It’s opportunities that prepare graduates for the health and human services workforce.

It’s Destination Health. An EEO/AA institution.

Support NOURISH NC when you join City Club of Wilmington

THE CITY CLUB OF WILMINGTON

23 S. 2nd Street Historic Downtown I 910.232.7890 CityClubOfWilmington.com

2020 Year of Giving For the whole of 2020, The City Club of Wilmington will reduce its new member initiation fee from $1,500 to $500, and the joining member may decide which participating charity they would like to benefit. Corporate or personal memberships available, with 100% of the initiation fee to benefit a local charity of the member's choice.

BE A

HUNGER HERO

For more information or a Private Tour of The Club contact LUCY PEKATOS 910-232-7890 Lucy@cityclubofwilmington.com

STEVE MCCROSSAN Executive Director director@nourishnc.org nourishnc.org

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WHAT COMES NEXT? J A C K B A R T O

REGISTERED NURSES

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2007

2017

N O R T H CA R O L I N A

NEW HANOVER

2012

SOURCE: N.C. STATE CENTER FOR HEALTH STATISTICS

0

PENDER

2

BRUNSWICK

4

N O R T H CA R O L I N A

N O R T H CA R O L I N A PENDER

2017

6

PENDER

2012

8

NEW HANOVER

NEW HANOVER

10

BRUNSWICK

PENDER

N O R T H CA R O L I N A

NEW HANOVER

2007

BRUNSWICK

N O R T H CA R O L I N A

NEW HANOVER PENDER

0

BRUNSWICK

N O R T H CA R O L I N A

NEW HANOVER

BRUNSWICK

2017

50

(PER 10,000 RESIDENTS)

BRUNSWICK

2012

N O R T H CA R O L I N A

PENDER

BRUNSWICK

N O R T H CA R O L I N A

2007

100

PENDER

0

PENDER

3

BRUNSWICK

6

NEW HANOVER

150

NEW HANOVER

9

PHYSICIANS ASSISTANTS

(PER 10,000 RESIDENTS)

(PER 10,000 RESIDENTS)

N O R T H CA R O L I N A

PRIMARY CARE PHYSICIANS 12

Trends over recent years for New Hanover County health provider rates

PENDER

PROVIDER PROGRESS

NEW HANOVER

The PAG is to be commended for their work and the professionalism they displayed during this long and difficult process. I was initially skeptical of the PAG process. However, I am now amazed that this diverse group with different perspectives on partnership not only reached a decision, they did the nearly impossible by reaching a unanimous recommendation to sell to Novant Health. The members opened their minds and their hearts to learn about the many challenges facing health care organizations in the coming years. They studied the region’s health care needs and compared the steps to success with the industry’s challenges.

In the end, they followed the science and not emotions in deciding a sale is the correct structure for our future. Since the idea of exploring options was introduced last year, I have heard people only speak to what they fear could go wrong. They worry quality of care will suffer if NHRMC becomes part of a larger system. After 39 years in health care, I can assure you care is always delivered locally and the outstanding team at NHRMC will continue to drive our local quality initiatives. To even suggest that local commitment to our patients would suffer is ludicrous and insulting to those dedicating themselves to providing care. I have also heard concerns about losing local control. I was amazed at the depth of powers Novant is

charging the local board to oversee, including strategy, quality, budgeting and staffing. Warnings of skyrocketing costs is another common refrain. But the majority of our patients are either Medicare or Medicaid, and non-negotiable payments for their care are set by the federal and state governments. Commercial insurance covers another 25-30%. Those payers are also negotiating payments that are tied to how cost effectively care can be managed. It is hard to fathom, in the economic climate we live in, that those rates could rise significantly. The remainder of our patients have no insurance, and almost all of those are unable to pay. Their services are written off. Warnings of skyrocketing costs make good headlines. But won’t happen here. Novant has made a staggering offer of $1.5 billion to New Hanover County plus $3 billion in capital commitments. That investment will have a positive impact on quality care, job growth and access to primary care in underserved areas. I am pleased to

BRUNSWICK

I

HAVE PURPOSELY STAYED QUIET ABOUT THE POTENTIAL SALE OF MY BELOVED NHRMC UNTIL THE PARTNERSHIP ADVISORY GROUP (PAG) FINISHED THEIR INITIAL ASSIGNMENT.


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see that county commissioners have set aside a portion of the funds to secure pension and other benefits for my former colleagues. The commissioners are also to be commended for a plan to put $1.25 billion in a community trust that can generate $50 million each year. Those funds can do wonders for our community. When I dream, I see expanded programs to help atrisk kids succeed. I see the hospital and food banks working in concert to deliver healthy food to homes. I see every citizen having access to a primary care provider keeping people healthy and lowering the cost of care in our area. The proposed sale of NHRMC to Novant Health will allow our local health care system to partner with an organization that can help it do more for everyone in this region. This is an unprecedented opportunity for us. It will not come around again. It’s time to look beyond the illusion of what we can lose and focus on the reality of what we will gain. Jack Barto served as president and CEO of New Hanover Regional Medical Center from 2004 until his retirement in 2017. He still lives in Wilmington.

Imagine securing top quality healthcare for generations to come.

Because your community came together to support a vision for a healthier future.

DENTISTS

PENDER

N O R T H CA R O L I N A

BRUNSWICK

PENDER

2012

N O R T H CA R O L I N A

BRUNSWICK

NEW HANOVER

2007

N O R T H CA R O L I N A

PENDER

NEW HANOVER BRUNSWICK

8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 0

NEW HANOVER

(PER 10,000 RESIDENTS)

Learn more about the benefits of partnership at nhrmcfuture.org.

2017 NewHanover_Imagine_4.792x9.417_Quality-GWBJ.indd 1

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7/31/20 11:57 AM

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MOVIN G G O O D S A ND MOVIN G PEOPLE H A S B EEN A MAJ OR STO R YLI NE F O R SOUT HEAST E R N NO RT H CAROLIN A. WHILE A N U MB ER O F T RANSPORTAT I O N PR OJECT S WERE UNDERTA K EN I N R ECENT DECADES, DEMA ND ST I LL EX IST S FOR MO R E CA PACI T Y I F G ROWT H IS TO CO NT I NU E I N T HE YEARS A H EA D. WHEN IN T ER STAT E 40 CON NECT ED U P TO WILMIN GTO N I N 1990, I T WAS J UST T H E B EG I NNI NG OF IN C REASI NG ACCESS TO T HE AREA – TO T H E PR A I SE OF SOME AN D D I SMAY O F OT HERS.

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BUILDING

OUT

BY CHRISTINA HALEY O'NEAL

PHOTO BY MICHAEL CLINE SPENCER

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Y LAND, SEA OR AIR, INFRASTRUCTURE HAS TRANSFORMED THE WILMINGTON REGION OVER THE DECADES, AND EVEN MORE CHANGES ARE ON THE WAY TO SUPPORT FUTURE TRANSPORTATION NEEDS. HERE’S A LOOK AT WHAT’S HAPPENED, WHAT’S TAKING PLACE AND WHAT THE FUTURE HOLDS FOR SOME REGIONAL PROJECTS IN THE NEXT 20 YEARS.

BRIDGING FOCUS

WHAT’S HAPPENED: Roadway links over the Cape Fear River to bridge New Hanover and Brunswick counties have been a topic of transportation talks for several decades. First with the Cape Fear Skyway project and then the Cape Fear Crossing, backing by the state and funding has long been an issue to support a another crossing over the river. After scrapping plans to move forward with planning for a fourth bridge, NCDOT officials turned focus to replacing the aging Cape Fear Memorial Bridge, built in 1969. BIG PROJECTS: A project feasibility study to replace the iconic bridge with upgrades that would support the area’s growing traffic needs and truck volume with the Wilmington port was released this spring. Transportation officials studied four options that could cost between $196 million and $608 million. By comparison, the Cape Fear Crossing study estimated a fourth crossing to cost around $1.1 billion. Even with a fourth crossing, however, the Cape Fear Memorial Bridge still needs to be replaced, Kimes said. “For the next 20 years it’s definitely one of our top priorities,” said Chad Kimes, the N.C. Department of Transportation’s Division 3 engineer. “And it takes a while to get funding, so that’s the reason we’re talking about this project today.” WHAT THE FUTURE HOLDS: The feasibility study, however, is just a high-level look at the options and costs. NCDOT will now work to find solutions on how to fund the bridge replacement, Kimes said.

Today the bridge supports about 61,000 vehicles a day. Based on traffic forecasts, the bridge 20 years from now will have 83,000 cars traveling on it every day. Once the project gets funding, the detailed environmental process (called the merger process) and the true design can begin. Meanwhile, any major rehabs to the bridge shouldn’t be needed for the next eight to 10 years, officials said. NCDOT, however, performs about $500,000 a year of maintenance to the bridge. “The Cape Fear Memorial Bridge is a critical link between New Hanover and Brunswick counties, and so we need to think now about how we’re going to design, fund and build a replacement bridge,” said Mike Kozlosky, executive director of the Wilmington Urban Area Metropolitan Planning Organization (WMPO). “We know it needs to be replaced. We know it’s going to be an expensive project. But we need to develop a strategy.”

RUSH HOUR

WHAT’S HAPPENED: As the area’s population has increased over the years, traffic in the Cape Fear region also has strained the area’s roadway infrastructure. From major roadway projects to intersection upgrades, transportation officials have been planning work that will support the region for years to come. BIG PROJECTS: There have been a number of big projects in construction or completed that will help move people and goods throughout the region. Major projects such as the Martin Luther King Jr. Parkway, which fully opened in 2007, and Interstate

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140 Wilmington Bypass, which opened to traffic in 2018, provided connectivity and better access to the region, officials said. The bypass, for example, has provided a “critical connection” between New Hanover and Brunswick counties, Kozlosky said. “That was a tremendous project in itself to have a bypass around the west side of Wilmington,” Kimes said. The widening of the causeway on U.S. 74/76 in Brunswick County also improved connections by increasing capacity, they said. In Pender County, another major project – a new bridge to Surf City – opened to drivers in late 2018. WHAT THE FUTURE HOLDS: Construction is underway on the Military Cutoff Extension project, which aims to take more cars off Market Street. “The project that we have under construction, the Military Cutoff Extension part of I-140, that is just huge for the area as we continue to grow here,” Kimes said. Transportation officials are also trying to narrow down the timing of getting the Hampstead Bypass project in Pender County started. The WMPO completed the final draft of its long-range transportation plan, Cape Fear Moving Forward 2045, Kozlosky said, which is a blueprint for the area’s network looking at all modes of transportation for the next 25 years. The problem, however, with getting some projects going is the funding, he said. At the NCDOT level, funding issues have pushed back a number of key roadway projects already, and more changes in project schedules could take place in the FA L L 2020

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WAVE RUNNERS

322,391

306,356

FY17

FY18

FY19

319,054

232,624

PORT OF WILMINGTON’S CARGO VOLUMES IN 20-FOOT EQUIVALENT UNITS, OR TEUs, IN RECENT YEARS

FY20 SOURCE: N.C. PORTS

PHOTO BY T.J. DRECHSEL

coming months, officials said. “And so it comes down to a matter of resources of what can be funded, how, when and where,” Kozlosky said. “I will say that we’re on the cusp of seeing some transportation improvements that will help mobility and safety throughout the region.” The next big projects, Kimes said, will focus on existing infrastructure, including improvements to major intersections in the Wilmington area, such as the College and Oleander roads junction, which handles about 64,000 vehicles a day, and Military Cutoff and Eastwood roads, which sees 63,000 vehicles a day.

PORT BUSINESS

WHAT’S HAPPENED: Over the decades, the N.C. State Ports Authority, known as N.C. Ports, has brought increased trade and industry to the region. The Port of Wilmington is one of two deepwater ports in the state but is the only one to handle containerized cargo. The Wilmington port contributes nearly $13 billion to the state’s economy every year. Port officials want to grow that economic impact, increasing infrastructure and capabilities at the port to do so. BIG PROJECTS: N.C. Port’s more than $221 million capital improvement plan has added infrastructure

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and improvements to the Port of Wilmington over the past four years. There have been two phases of the port’s turning basin expansion, the addition of three neo-Panamax cranes capable of supporting larger cargo ships, major dock improvements, a new refrigerated container yard and an increase in the height of power lines that cross over the Cape Fear River to allow taller ships to pass through. The improvements are already driving some of the largest ships visiting ports along the East Coast to the Wilmington port. “N.C. Ports is already seeing positive impacts from the significant investments in infrastructure we have made over the last few years. From the expansion of the turning basin to berth enhancements to the neo-Panamax cranes, these important initiatives have enabled us to reach several historical milestones in recent months, like the arrival of the Hyundai Hope in May,” said Paul Cozza, N.C. Ports, executive director. That ship – the Hyundai Hope – was one of the largest ever served by the Port of Wilmington. WHAT THE FUTURE HOLDS: N.C. Ports plans to see more trade business and more big ships visiting the Wilmington port in the coming years. “We anticipate these impacts M A G A Z I N E

AIRPORT TRAFFIC 1999-2019 ANNUAL NUMBER OF PASSENGERS TO PASS THROUGH WILMINGTON INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT 200K 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019

400K 600K

800K

1M

1.2M

487,628

674,475

799,710

769,809

1,075,963 SOURCE: WILMINGTON INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT


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FROM THE ARCHIVES

Donna Girardot, chair of the New Hanover County Airport Authority, and Julie Wilsey, airport director, stand in the airport’s expanded ticket lobby – part of ILM’s current terminal expansion project.

“S tate of the Port” – July 2000

“Too shallow.” For the purpose of attracting larger ships and more business to the Port of Wilmington, and prompting fears over losing the business it had, those words described the Cape Fear River channel at the port 20 years ago. At the time, the port got an infusion of more than $330 million for a project to deepen the channel from 38 feet to 42 feet. Customers back then said the 4 feet would make a big difference because they were having to rely on the tides to get ships in and out. Port officials predicted that the deepening would propel the Port of Wilmington to more truck-size containers and more pallets of wood on ships headed out, meaning more revenue. These days, N.C. Ports officials are still looking at opportunities to increase business and compete with other ports on the East Coast, including deepening the Wilmington Harbor again, this time from 42 to 47 feet. The N.C. Ports has the Port of Wilmington, the Port of Morehead City and an inland terminal in Charlotte. Major recent projects involve $221 million in capital improvements, including a turning basin and container terminal expansion in Wilmington. The main point of the changes, said N.C. Ports Executive Director Paul Cozza in a 2019 WilmingtonBiz Magazine story, is to keep improving the ports’ economic contribution numbers, which amounted to more than $15 billion, according to a 2018 economic report.

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continuing well into the future as we increase our capabilities, which will support the Port of Wilmington’s growth as an important gateway for our region, North Carolina and the entire Southeast,” Cozza said. Future capital improvements are underway, including a new gate complex and an upgrade to the ports’ terminal operating system. N.C. Ports is also proposing its Wilmington Harbor enhancement project, which would deepen the harbor from 42 feet to 47 feet to make way for bigger, heavier container ships up the river to the Port of Wilmington. The authority, however, is awaiting federal approvals for the project. Port officials have also said future plans will focus on making improvements to general cargo facilities.

TERMINAL TAKES OFF WHAT’S HAPPENING: More travelers have passed through Wilmington International Airport (ILM) over the years, with a historic milestone reached last year of more than 1 million passengers. The increase in passengers, on top of adding new nonstop flights and a third commercial carrier to the airport last year, has put a strain on the airport building during peak times. “Pre-COVID-19 our ramp, our gate and even TSA checkpoints were nearing capacity,” said Donna Girardot, chair of the New Hanover County Airport Authority. Airport officials said they are hopeful that numbers will return to normal postpandemic. To accommodate future growth, ILM is


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undertaking the largest capital project in the past 20 years, airport director Julie Wilsey said. BIG PROJECTS: Despite a dramatic dip in air travel this year because of the coronavirus, the airport’s next phase that has been planned for years is still on track, bolstered by more than $21 million from the Federal Aviation Administration that was awarded this year. The $61 million airport terminal expansion and renovation project will grow ILM’s building by 75% (over 162,000 square feet) when finished. It is projected to help ILM grow beyond 525,000 passenger boardings a year, Wilsey said. After kicking off in 2018, ILM’s contractors have completed the project’s first two phases. ILM recently finished upgrades to its ticket counter area, Wilsey said adding, “We have offices and counters for a fourth airline.” Contractors are working on a third contract in the project, which will add more space and bring additional boarding space and gates, as well as add space for concessions and other passenger amenities. The project is “going to really set us up for the next two to three decades of growth,” Girardot said. WHAT THE FUTURE HOLDS: The project’s third contract is slated for completion in 2022. There is a fourth phase in planning associated with the terminal expansion project, which would allow the airport to accommodate 740,000 departing passengers a year, Wilsey said. ILM’s growth, she said, will determine if it’s positioned to add the fourth piece to the project, which would double capacity and add more gates, ramps space and a TSA checkpoint. “The airport is an economic engine for this region, and it’s a vital component for businesses looking to relocate to our area,” Girardot said. “We are also concentrating on increasing our leisure and tourism component of the market as well.” w i l m i n g t o n b i z m a g a z i n e . c o m

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W H AT C O M E S N E X T ?

T

HE CAPE FEAR REGION IS GROWING AT A RAPID PACE AND IS HOME TO ONE OF THE FASTEST-GROWING COUNTIES IN NORTH CAROLINA. Global markets are beginning to recognize this growth and the opportunity it B R I A N presents. Because C L A R K of this growth, it is critically important that we consider the future of transportation in our region. It is imperative that through proper planning and open communication, infrastructure improvements keep pace with this growth so the Cape Fear

Region can continue to compete with surrounding major markets. Southeast North Carolina offers convenient access to the Port of Wilmington and the Wilmington International Airport. The region offers rail access via CSX and is conveniently connected to major highways including U.S. 421, I-40, I-95, I-85 and I-77. While this connectivity is an important asset, we must continue to work closely with our partners at the local and state levels to further improve critical arteries in our region, including the U.S. 74/76 corridor. Locally, we must continue to advance improvements to key access roads into the Port of Wilmington, most importantly Front Street, Carolina Beach Road and Shipyard Boulevard, while options continue to advance for an improved Cape Fear River Crossing. Additionally, we need to consider improvements to rail access in the Cape

Fear region. Enhancements are already being made through a 2019 federal grant received by NCDOT that will introduce improvements to the current rail freight access through the city. The grant will help improve the safety and efficiency of the Queen City Express, our nextday intermodal service connecting Wilmington to Charlotte, as well as the movement of other freight moving into the port. Further improvements, including advancing the Wilmington Rail Realignment project, will ensure our region is primed for additional cargo growth in the future. Brian Clark is chief operating officer for the N.C. State Ports Authority, where he has worked since 2017. This year, Clark was named as the ports authority’s next executive director, replacing Paul Cozza, who is retiring at the end of the year.

More room to coast. ILM is dedicated to providing an exceptional airport experience for our customers. The 75% expansion, which is underway and set to complete by 2023, will allow us, and you, to continue to coast on in and coast on out.

flyilm.com/terminal-expansion

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T WO IMPORTA NT FACET S O F T EC HNOLO GY A R E I T S A B I LI T Y TO SOLVE A PR O B LEM A ND EVOLVE. T HAT CAN B E SEEN I N T ECH COMPANIES I N WI LMI NGTO N FROM 20 YEA R S AG O TO T H E C URRENT DAY. FROM START U PS T H AT HELPED COMPA NI ES A DA PT T HEIR BUSI NESS TO T H E NEW WORLD OF I NT ER NET I N T H E EARLY 20 00S TO MO D ER NDAY COMPA NI ES D ELV I NG IN BAK IN G SO F T WA R E A ND MEDICAL T ECH NO LO GY, T H E START UP AND T ECH NO LO GY ECOSY ST EM H A S G R O WN I N T HE REG IO N I N T H E PA ST DECADES.

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2020 IN TECH

ENTREPRENEURIAL

ENDEAVORS

I

N 2000, THE THENNAMED WILMINGTON REGIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS HELD ITS FIRST TECH 2000 EXPO. IN ATTENDANCE WERE VENDORS THAT SOLD TECH GADGETS SUCH AS LIGHTWEIGHT LAPTOPS; HANDSPRING COMPUTERS DESCRIBED AS “HAND-HELD COMPUTERS” AND ADD-ONS THAT ALLOWED CONSUMERS TO SPEAK TO SALES REPRESENTATIVES WHILE BROWSING A WEBSITE. Technology articles from the year 2000 range from pieces on whether phone booths will disappear to how schools are utilizing technology to launch online classes. They also highlight local tech businesses that were innovating in an emerging field. That includes ePlus Technology Inc. founded by David Rose, which helped businesses establish e-commerce; C-Phone Corp., a video conferencing company; NECTIE Systems, a software company streamlining insurance fillings; and

How Wilmington's startup ecosystem grew into its own BY JOHANNA CANO

Coastal Capital Markets, a brokerage firm using technology that made the Inc. 500 list in 2005. While technology continues to evolve, so has the types of startups launched in the region and the way entrepreneurs connect to resources. Some of the current tech frontrunners in Wilmington include nCino, a banking software company that began trading with skyrocketing IPO launch-day numbers valuing it at $7 billion; NextGlass, which received a strategic investment to grow its software that connects those in the alcoholic beverage industry, and PlayerSpace, a sports management software firm purchased for an undisclosed amount by Daxko. There are also companies delving in the insurance technology and facial recognition software such as Lapetus Solutions and others providing election management software such as EasyVote Solutions. One startup looking to become Wilmington’s next success story is SportGait. Headquartered at the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at UNCW, SportGait has developed technology and a platform where parents, athletes, coaches and medical

TECH TIMELINE

MILEPOSTS FOR TECHNOLOGY COMPANIES IN THE AREA AND THE ENTREPRENEURIAL SUPPORT SYSTEMS AND FUNDS THAT HAVE GROWN ALONGSIDE THEM.

providers can monitor concussion symptoms in athletes. “The first thing that we did was put together a terrific team and their expertise has let us be able to make some great achievements in such a short period of time,” CEO Chris Newton said about the process of launching SportGait from an idea to a formal company. Besides Newton, SportGait is led by executive chairman Tobin Geatz, who is also founder of Seahawk Innovation. The company has a relationship with the University of North Carolina Wilmington. “We’ve been working hand-inglove with the psychology department, and they’ve helped us quite a bit on the clinical side of things,” Newton said. The startup has previously received investment from Seahawk Innovation, an organization with a public-private relationship with UNCW, making the university a part owner of the startup. SportGait, an entity of LifeGait Inc., has raised $2 million through investors, according to filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. LifeGait, which holds intellectual

Coastal Entrepreneur Awards launched

2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 Angel investment group Wilmington Investor Network forms

Wilmington Regional Association of Realtors holds its first Tech 2000 Expo

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UNCW Entrepreneurship Center forms under Cameron School of Business

2010 2011

MARBIONC research facility opens

2012 2013

The Entrepreneurship Center morphs into UNCW’s CIE (Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation)


2020 IN TECH

property for SportGait, has raised about $1.4 million. Newton said the majority of the investment SportGait has received is local. One aspect of the company that has helped its growth is that it is solving an important problem, he said. “The first thing you need is a clear value proposition that addresses a very large need or a problem, and I think we successfully did that,” he said. Newton, who came to Wilmington from the Triangle region, said growing the company in the Port City has been helped by area support for entrepreneurs and startups. But having more companies start and grow in Wilmington would boost that entrepreneurial ecosystem. “Wilmington is a great community for startups and high growth. I’d like to see more technology-focused companies to make the environment bigger, stronger and attract more technical talent into the area,” he said. “We need a couple to take the risk – to start and to grow – and we need more downstream investment that is local.” Supporting the growth of the entrepreneurial landscape in the region has been the primary goal of some local organizations including North Carolina’s Small Business and Technology Development Center, which established a local office in 1986. Some resources sprung up after the year 2000, including tekMountain, an incubator and coworking space founded in 2014 by CastleBranch. “In Wilmington, one of our biggest attractions to draw entrepreneurs and startup companies is the beach. But you

2015

PHOTO BY LOGAN BURKE

Lapetus • VentureSouth Wilmington Solutions network launches raises • Bunker Labs Wilmington $3.5M launches

SBA lender and Coastal Connect Conference is held local fintech leader Live Oak Bank’s IPO

2014

Blair Posey Pickett (left), research specialist at SportGait, and Len Lecci, professor and director of clinical services at Memory Assessment and Research Services at UNCW, regularly conduct tests to ensure the accuracy of the SportGait’s concussion assessment, which includes walking, balance and reaction time.

2016

2017

2018

2019

• 1 Million Cups Wilmington chapter starts •N  .C. Bioneer Venture Challenge launches FEB. 2020

NextGlass receives investment, announces new CEO APRIL 2020

2020 JAN. 2020

tekMountain opens out of CastleBranch

• Cucalorus Connect Conference launches • Cape Fear Women in Tech starts •N  etwork for Entrepreneurs in Wilmington and Wilmington Angels for Local Entrepreneurs launch

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nCino raises $80M in funding

JULY 2020 • PlayerSpace is sold • Banking software •C  anapi Ventures, formerly known firm nCino’s IPO as Live Oak Ventures, launches its •A  piture raises $20M inaugural $545M fintech venture funds in funding

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LOCAL TECH FUNDING

2020 IN TECH

Raises by local companies since 2013, according to filings with the SEC and company officials

Girard and Tracey Newkirk are opening the Genesis Block coworking space in downtown Wilmington.

NCINO INC.


Amount raised: $123,955,991 (2013-19)

APITURE

Amount raised: $20,000,000 (2020)

LAPETUS SOLUTIONS INC.


Amount raised: $4,690,431 (2015-17)

KWIPPED INC.*


Amount raised: $2,159,358 (2017-19)

SPORTGAIT INC.


Amount raised: $2,055,000 (2017-19)


PHOTO BY MEGAN DEITZ

can’t build businesses from sand,” said Brett Martin, CEO of tekMountain and founder and CEO of CastleBranch, which started as a background screening company in offices at The Cotton Exchange in 2002 and now owns its headquarters buildings on Sir Tyler Drive where it has moved into other online platform services. “If you’re going to attract entrepreneurs, you need to go beyond the beach and have the right mix of ingredients – knowledge, network and capital.” At tekMountain, startups can gain the knowledge they need to grow, the networks they need to scale their business and the learnings and resources they need to find and create capital, Martin added. With a community of 150 “coworkers,” members can connect with other companies, mentors and experienced entrepreneurs. Currently, the COVID-19 pandemic has prompted tekMountain to shift to

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a virtual mode, with its physical space closed for the foreseeable future. Many tekMountain-based startups have grown and graduated out of the space and into their own, including SWELL Systems, BarMembership and Connected Investors. Others have also won awards, including tekMountainaffiliated companies receiving NC TECH awards and Coastal Entrepreneur Awards. Another notable source for many startups in the region is the UNCW CIE. “We have been a resource for young, fledgling startups in early stage, so a lot of what we have done since we opened our doors is entrepreneurial education,” said Laura BrogdonPrimavera, manager at the CIE. The CIE was formed in 2012 as a regional economic development organization focused on using entrepreneurship as a catalyst for the growth of jobs, innovation and new

M A G A Z I N E

EasyVote Solutions Inc.

Amount raised: $1,500,000 (2018)

LIFEGAIT INC.


Amount raised: $1,388,335 (2016-20)

MIRIMICHI GREEN EXPRESS

Amount raised: $1,022,000 (2015-18)

KOOLBRIDGE SOLAR INC.


Amount raised: $975,000 (2014-17)

PETRICS INC.

Amount raised: $822,548 (2015-19)

CLOUDWYZE

Amount raised: $650,000 (2020) *NOTE: KWIPPED founder and CEO Robert Preville owns the Greater Wilmington Business Journal with publisher Rob Kaiser. Preville and Kaiser are part owners of KWIPPED.


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2020 IN TECH

ventures, said CIE director Diane Durance. While the CIE is part of the university, serving faculty, staff and alumni, most of the tenants aren’t affiliated. “Most of our entrepreneurs come from the community, and in fact, out of the 100 or so entrepreneurs that we’re working with at any given time, only about five of them are from the university,” Durance said. The CIE is a membership organization with working space for tenants including conference rooms and private offices. “Over the last seven years we’ve seen growth in working with larger partners with funding support to help provide that accelerator funding,” Brogdon-Primavera said. “That has been a new addition that we’ve been able to offer young startups to help them reach milestones.” That includes hosting information sessions on grants through the NC IDEA foundation, which supports entrepreneurs throughout the state and cofounding the NC Bioneer Venture Challenge. While the CIE has been able to provide resources to entrepreneurs in the region since 2012 on its own, it is part of a larger group that can fill gaps and provide a full spectrum of services and resources. “When you look at the coalition of organizations in the region that support – from the SBTDC to tekMountain to Genesis Block to Small Business Administration – everybody has their niche, the thing that they’re really good at and how they’re a differentiator,” Brogdon-Primavera said. “But when you put us all together, it makes us a pretty impactful and significant group to want

to start your business in Wilmington.” To highlight all the services from local organizations aiming to help businesses and entrepreneurs, the CIE is working on a new website called Engagement Hub. “Users will be able to see not only the events that we’re offering but all of the programs and ways that we can support them through this E-Hub,” Brogdon-Primavera said. “It also will highlight the differences in all of the organizations in the region.” One resource founded this year aims to not only promote entrepreneurship and the tech industry in the region but specifically minority entrepreneurs and startups. The brainchild of husbandand-wife team Girard and Tracy Newkirk, Genesis Block is a coworking space in downtown Wilmington born out of the desire to boost entrepreneurship and the technology sector. “I always had a dream of bringing technology and entrepreneurship to the Cape Fear region.” Girard Newkirk said. “Genesis Block for me is a concept with a focus on the community and helping out small businesses and early-stage entrepreneurs.” Tracy Newkirk said the desire to establish an incubator and accelerator came out of wanting a Wilmington where her sons would want to live, grow, work and raise a family. “I started with African American Business Council and then when Girard and I got together and he told me what his vision was and what mine was, it was just a perfect fit,” she said. “What greater way to raise up a strong, not just African American middle class but a strong business class in our

w i l m i n g t o n b i z m a g a z i n e . c o m

WHAT COMES

I

NEXT?

T’S AN EXCITING TIME TO BE IN WILMINGTON. LOOKING AT IT THROUGH THE LENS OF

technology and innovation, one might think a tertiary city, whose primary reputation is connected to boating and beaches, has no shot to make a real mark.

On the contrary. Technology and innovation require the right kind of people in the right environment, fueled N E I L by strategic capital giving an UNDERWOOD idea the runway it needs to ultimately take flight. Maybe even go to the moon. In a little over 10 years, we’ve seen a few moonshot ideas come to life in this very town. Live Oak Bank: the nation’s largest small business lender – completely digital. nCino: the global leader in cloud banking. Apiture: digital banking powerhouse with bestin-class UX. Canapi: the largest fintech venture fund, seeded by banks as limited partners. These are global companies, with industrydefining technologies, built right here in Wilmington. The recipe for success seems to have the following profile: technology built completely cloud-native, taking advantage of a massive paradigm shift in how technology is delivered; deep domain expertise, led by teams with unmatched vertical experience; all companies maniacal about culture, recognizing this is about attracting and retaining the best talent and doing it in an environment that’s conducive to a most favorable quality of life. It’s happening right now and only accelerating in a post-pandemic world. There is a recognition that innovation doesn’t have to happen in a big, crowded city. In decades to come, quality of life such as that in a coastal community will be the ultimate recruiting tool, and these communities will rise up as massive centers of influence in all that is technology and innovation. Neil Underwood president of Live Oak Bancshares and partner at Canapi Ventures. FA L L 2020

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community, than helping entrepreneurs?” Besides private offices and coworking spaces, Tracy and Girard Newkirk worked to create an environment for collaboration, as well as offer seminars, workshops and classes. “We’re building out the Genesis Block incubator and minority accelerator, and all of these programs are going to be focused on getting businesses investor-ready and also having the tools and the resources to scale their businesses,” Girard Newkirk said. Both with experience owning businesses, they wanted to provide a space for entrepreneurs from all backgrounds, especially minorities that historically have less access to resources. “Tracy and I are minority entrepreneurs, so we see some of the challenges directly,” Girard said. “We see that that’s a major opportunity in the Cape Fear region especially with some of the gaps, as far as minority supplier contracts, whether it be at the public level on the private level.” To address those issues, Genesis Block is working on a mobile app to help individuals, businesses and government institutions find and support Black-owned businesses in the community. “I think the opportunity now is to develop clear pathways so that entrepreneurs understand what resources there are to get formalized as far as how we get them in that pathway and on a clear track towards becoming a success,” Newkirk said. Looking into the future, showing other communities that the Wilmington region can be a destination for technology innovation and entrepreneurs is key for continued growth, Martin said. “Wilmington needs to have an organized approach to attracting new startup companies, entrepreneurs and businesses if we want our community to succeed,” he said. “It also means Wilmington has to have a coordinated strategy to market our region as a destination for entrepreneurs and businesses – not just tourism and retirement.” Additionally, Brogdon-Primavera said the community needs more mentions of companies getting to the next level to continue on a good trajectory. “Next time we have another nCino success story, hopefully, that’s not going to be our last,” she said. “We need champions telling that story and screaming it from the mountaintops.”

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FROM THE ARCHIVES “M oney Business: Banks strive to balance old fashioned personal service with new fangled technology” – S e p t e m b e r 2 0 0 0 Thinking back to the days of yore (the year 2000, for example) and the computers people used to have, with all their wires and chunky screens, it’s hard for us to see any of that as “new fangled.” But the technology of the time 20 years ago was sometimes described that way until it became more widely used. These days, companies in Wilmington are banking on tech, ringing up hundreds of millions of dollars through banking software that, in the case of publicly traded nCino (Nasdaq: NCNO), they developed. In 2012, nCino spun off of another Wilmington-based company, Live Oak Bank, the largest SBA lenders in the U.S. nCino these days has 900

employees in Wilmington and at its offices elsewhere in the world. The company celebrated a successful debut on the Nasdaq in July, and its cloudbased banking solutions have become more prevalent during the coronavirus pandemic. In the year 2000, the Business Journal reported that banks were trying to continue providing personal service even as technology began to gain more of a foothold. Banking executives then said community banks could cater to consumers “weary of rampant corporate depersonalization.” It’s safe to say that in 2020, many banking functions are more focused on the convenience technology provides now and is expected to deliver in the future.


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THE WILMINGTON AREA IS A DRIVE-IN MARKET, TOURISM OFFICIALS SAY, MEANING A LOT OF VISITORS COME FROM AREAS WHERE IT DOESN’T TAKE LONG TO DRIVE TO THE HISTORIC CITY AND ITS NEARBY BEACH TOWNS IN NEW HANOVER, PENDER AND BRUNSWICK COUNTIES. OTHER ASPECTS OF THE CITY AND SURROUNDING COMMUNITIES ATTRACT TOURISTS. BUT OVER THE DECADES, THE CENTERPIECE OF THE REGION’S TOURISM INDUSTRY IS THE ATLANTIC OCEAN, AND BUSINESSES IN CAROLINA AND KURE BEACH HAVE CAPITALIZED ON THAT FACT FOR MORE THAN 100 YEARS.

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IN BIZ

TOURISM PHOTO C/O SLAPDASH-PUBLISHING / CAROLINABEACH.NET

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Shown here in 2018 – before COVID-19 impacts – the Carolina Beach Boardwalk area has been home to carnival rides over the years.

PHOTO BY PAUL BOROZNOFF SDA

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DOWN ON THE

BOARDWALK Changes lead more visitors to historic destination

J

BY CECE NUNN

The doors wouldn’t open until 8:30 a.m., but Soriano, a Charlotte resident, didn’t want to take the chance of an even longer wait, especially after what she’d seen the day before when she rode her bicycle to the boardwalk. “I was expecting a little bit of a line since they’re only open three days,” she said. “But it went around the building.” Long lines are nothing new for Britt’s Donuts, which has garnered state and national attention for the popularity of its croissant-like, melt-in-your-mouth doughnuts, and the boardwalk in general has a long history of attracting locals and visitors. It’s a vintage piece of the area’s tourism industry, with a boardwalk in some form drawing people to Carolina Beach since 1887. These days, the board part of the Carolina Beach Boardwalk stretches from a pay parking lot, where a motel used to be before Hurricane Florence led to its demolition, to a hotel that’s considered a catalyst for the rejuvenation of the historic landmark. The stores, restaurants and entertainment venues flank a paved area w i l m i n g t o n b i z m a g a z i n e . c o m

photo by LOGAN BURKE

UST BEFORE 7:30 IN THE MORNING ON A SATURDAY IN AUGUST, LISA SORIANO WAITED PATIENTLY NEAR THE ENTRANCE TO BRITT’S DONUTS, A CAROLINA BEACH BOARDWALK FIXTURE SINCE 1939.

Britt's Donuts has been a Carolina Beach Boardwalk staple for decades during the summer tourism season.

next to the raised boards. The boardwalk hasn’t always been family-friendly or friendly at all to some, having gone through segregation, fires and a period of violent crime. Vacant stores and properties in various states of disrepair littered the area in the 1980s, and bars moved in until there were 16 in two blocks, explained Elaine Henson, local historian and president of the Federal Point Historic Preservation Society. Federal Point was a peninsula until the 1930s when the federal government created the Intracoastal Waterway. FA L L 2020

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ANNUAL ROOM OCCUPANCY TAX RECEIPTS NEW HANOVER COUNTY

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BECAUSE VISITORS PAY ROOM OCCUPANCY TAXES FOR LODGING DURING THEIR STAY, THE AMOUNT COLLECTED IS ONE WAY TO SHOW HOW TOURISM ACTIVITY HAS GONE UP AND DOWN OVER THE YEARS.

Carolina Beach Boardwalk postcard, circa 1950

$1M $2M $3M $4M $5M $6M $7M $8M

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$3,232,349 $4,030,971

$4,258,617 $5,179,042 $6,474,081

* THESE FIGURES REFLECT 3% OF TAX COLLECTIONS OVER THE YEARS. LEGISLATION FOR ANOTHER 3% OF ROT WAS ENACTED IN 2003, BUT LOCAL MUNICIPALITIES IN THE COUNTY PHASED IN THEIR SECOND 3% PORTIONS OVER SEVERAL YEARS LATER. TO COMPARE CHANGES OVER TIME COUNTYWIDE, THE GRAPHIC FOCUSES JUST ON THE FIRST 3% AMOUNTS.

HEADS IN BEDS

LODGING CHANGES IN NEW HANOVER COUNTY

NO. OF PROPERTIES 2000 vs. 2020 2000 2020

71

147

150

22

18

1 3

NEW HANOVER COUNTY

23

FIGURE EIGHT ISLAND

KURE BEACH

36

WRIGHTSVILLE BEACH

54 CAROLINA BEACH

51

WILMINGTON

NO. OF UNITS 2000 vs. 2020

511

FIGURE EIGHT ISLAND

605

KURE BEACH

1,435

WRIGHTSVILLE BEACH

1,437 1,029

1,684

60

85

NEW HANOVER COUNTY

2000 2020

3,333

7,119 7,899

4,839

CAROLINA BEACH

had disappeared in 1978 came back. “It was the icing on the cake,” she wrote, in one of seven President’s Letter articles on the boardwalk, for the preservation society. “The family atmosphere was back.” A $1.5 million boardwalk makeover took place in 2013. “When the town renovated the classic boardwalk … they added showers, swings and other amenities to encourage more activity while retaining the classic vintage boardwalk feel that made it famous,” said Kim Hufham, president and CEO of the New Hanover County Tourism Development Authority, doing business as Wilmington and Beaches CVB. “Perhaps the biggest shot in the arm,” Henson said, “was the announcement of the new Courtyard by Marriott hotel to be built on the boardwalk. It came at the perfect time and provided a catalyst for future development.” Crews completed construction of the hotel in 2016. Then a Hampton Inn joined the mix. “In recent years the Carolina Beach Boardwalk has become a centerpiece

WILMINGTON

At one bar, the Long Branch Saloon, a fight broke out over a pool game and ended with one man being stabbed to death. Two more deaths followed. “I would say that 1993 was the lowest point,” Henson said. “When you’ve got 16 bars, and two bars have topless dancers and another bar had three people killed in one year’s time – I mean, you can’t get much lower than that.” As a historian, Henson acknowledges but doesn’t see the past as a hurdle. From the mid-1990s into the new century, residents and town officials began forming the building blocks that would lead to a successful reawakening of the landmark. Town zoning changed so there wouldn’t be so many bars clumped together. Around 2003, when Duke Hagestrom and his family opened a bike rental shop before taking over The Fudgeboat in 2005, the boardwalk was still a little rough, but they took a leap of faith that things would change. A boardwalk makeover push got rolling with the help of Hagestrom and then-mayor Dan Wilcox. In 2009, Henson said, the carnival rides that

$3,021,142

2000-01 2001-02 2002-03 2003-04 2004-05 2005-06 2006-07 2007-08 2008-09 2009-10 2010-11 2011-12 2012-13 2013-14 2014-15 2015-16 2016-17 2017-18 2018-19 2019-20

SOURCE: WILMINGTON AND BEACHES CVB


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2 0 2 0 I N TO U R I S M

photo by LOGAN BURKE

Bobby Nivens has owned Britt's Donuts since 1974.

boardwalk was stopped this year because of the virus,” said Bobby Nivens, who owns Britt’s Donuts. “The main attraction is still there, of course – the boardwalk. People love to go out and walk up and down the boardwalk; a lot of shops are still open. There’s a few of them that had to close, but most of them are still open. It’s just not quite as busy at nighttime as it was.” Still, the area’s beach towns, including Carolina Beach, saw a huge bump in May, June and July in the number of people occupying hotels and short-term rentals. Tourism officials hoped the trend would continue into late summer and the fall crossover season. June's numbers, the latest available as of the beginning of September, showed Carolina Beach up 23%, Kure up more than 19% and Wrightsville Beach up nearly 7% in room occupancy tax figures compared to June 2019. Besides Britt’s Donuts, another constant for the boardwalk is change. ©2019 Battleship NORTH CAROLINA

for the town’s tourism,” Hufham said. “It’s not only a place where visitors can shop and dine; during normal summer months the town brings in pop-up amusements and rides, and the Pleasure Island Chamber of Commerce hosts weekly concerts, fireworks and other special events.” The boardwalk also usually has events outside the typical tourist

season, including hosting visits with Santa and other holiday-themed amusements, Hufham said. “In general, we’ve seen the boardwalk create tremendous foot traffic, and it’s the heart of our community really,” Hagestrom said. “It’s the central business district. We have our strip along [U.S]421, but if you ask anybody what’s our front porch or our living room for our community, it would be the boardwalk where we welcome everybody. … It flows right from the beach right into all the little mostly mom-and-pop shops that just kick and scream every year to try and stay afloat.” The summer season events that drew a lot of foot traffic, including fireworks, had to be canceled in 2020 because of efforts to slow the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, and the arcade is closed. “With this virus thing, it hasn’t been quite as many people down here, and the entertainment on the

on pact us im ct ion , o d n e a trem p a tt r a ke a ’s f l a g s h i m y l t on our ci t y r s no t ounte er look a c n e h y t r o o an ist t a ke - on h gle. ands enue. S o e new an h r u v l O e o . r h w w vie ism ra l tour int of cove ur po r k o n l o c a you’ll dis o y n o a e, ends ive m es ar r dep impress d. Chanc e h e r n e n c l e av e a boa x peri nt on you e i s i t , t h e y g an eve w o v H n who hosti those ire about u or inq |

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ECONOMIC IMPACT OF TRAVEL EXPENDITURES

SOURCE: PREPARED FOR VISIT NORTH CAROLINA BY THE U.S. TRAVEL ASSOCIATION

PAYROLL

EMPLOYMENT (IN THOUSANDS)

2000 2005 2010 2015 2019

2000 2005 2010 2015 2019

6.68

5.84

5.04

5.26

5.63

$158.15M

$121.05M

$91.62M

$88.7M

$93.1M

$658.78M

$520.86M

$400.88M

$350.42M

$309.77M

NEW HANOVER COUNTY

2000 2005 2010 2015 2019

2000 2005 2010 2015 2019

2000 2005 2010 2015 2019

6.03

5.33

4.6

4.81

4.1

$125.63M

$97.62M

$73.63M

$72.50M

$58.41M

$633.62M

$508.88M

$395.38M

$336.55M

$243.51M

BRUNSWICK COUNTY

2000 2005 2010 2015 2019

2000 2005 2010 2015 2019

w i l m i n g t o n b i z m a g a z i n e . c o m

2000 2005 2010 2015 2019

0.86

0.82

0.71

0.72

0.69

$19.57M

$16.31M

$12.31M

$11.79M

$11.28M

$105.76M

$92.34M

$72.83M

$61M

PENDER COUNTY

$49.78M

Nearby projects have included, and will likely include in the future, mixed-use buildings with condominiums over restaurants and retail. “It may change some,” Nivens said. “The land’s gotten so valuable, and people like building up over them and putting shops underneath.” Hagestrom said, “You’re going to always go for the highest and best use of your property ... they’re going to want to maximize the value of it.” But parking is an issue, he said. “You have to decide between retail or parking. You can’t park on the second level. Once upon a time, everybody talked about how the boardwalk would all go to the second level and there’d be parking underneath, retail above it and condos, what-have-you, above but that’s really never come to fruition. Most people have maintained keeping the retail on the bottom.” The Fudgeboat’s building, 107 Carolina Beach Ave. N., is one of the few structures on the boardwalk that dates back to the 1930s, and it has just undergone remodeling. Hagestrom owns The Fudgeboat and Krazy Kones with his wife, Tracee, and his mother-in-law, Lou Belo, otherwise known as The Fudge Lady. “The project at The Fudgeboat this year was quite a bit to bite off. We are content to enjoy the remodel,” Duke Hagestrom said. “We did always say if there was another project for the future of The Fudgeboat, it would involve putting something above it like a condo.” Whatever the future holds for the boardwalk in Carolina Beach, Henson, who used to give walking history tours of the landmark before COVID-19, said she knows one thing. “It’s had a very interesting history, but if you look back on it, you see how it grew and changed,” Henson said. “If it’s going to survive, it’s going to have to continue to grow and change.”

2000 2005 2010 2015 2019

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WHAT COMES NEXT?

A

S WE LOOK FORWARD TO WHAT IS ON THE HORIZON FOR TOURISM, we must first

look back at the economic impact it has had on our destination over the years.

Tourism has been one of the hardest-hit economic sectors during the COVID-19 crisis, and nothing could have prepared us for a global pandemic with such devastating effects. Prior to the pandemic, it was among the nation’s fastest-growing industries. In 2019 visitors to New Hanover County spent nearly $659 million. Tourism employed over 6,680 people and generated nearly $58 million in state and local taxes. When an industry of this magnitude receives such a blow overnight, the question of “What comes next” becomes even more relevant. Tourism recovery is vital to our destination. Economic growth in New Hanover County is directly tied to a strong tourism industry. The record increases in visitor impact for nine consecutive years illuminates the importance of travel and tourism to our

FROM THE ARCHIVES

K I M HUFHAM community, especially in terms of jobs, small businesses and quality of place. The more visitors spend, the more our community benefits through job creation and a strong tax base that helps fund projects such as beach renourishment and the Wilmington Convention Center. Without our visitor base, our destination would not have the number and quality of things to see and do, restaurants and first-class events. As we move forward on our road to recovery, the Wilmington and Beaches Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB) will focus on three key areas. These focus areas provide the most impactful strategies to lead the recovery efforts in a highly fluid and unpredictable future: • Community Building – Align public-private sector strategies and elevate community collaboration • Customer Engagement –

“Convention center site selection on the fast track” – November 2000 Opened in November 2010, the Wilmington Convention Center traveled a somewhat arduous road to becoming a reality, with roadblocks that included delays and a couple of lawsuits (one about the convention center plan; the other regarding the center’s hotel operator) that were eventually resolved.

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Reassess target markets and define best messaging for leisure and business travelers • Organization Sustainability – Ensure the health and well-being of the CVB in the medium- and long-term Now more than ever, we must pull together as an industry and a community to support one another as we adjust to the new ways of doing business and gaining our visitors’ confidence as a safe and welcoming destination for all. “What comes next” remains to be seen as we move forward in these uncertain times. However, what is clear is that tourism will remain an integral part of our economic success and the CVB will continue to promote Wilmington and our beaches – Carolina, Kure and Wrightsville – as the premier coastal destination in North Carolina. Kim Hufham serves as the president of the New Hanover County Tourism Development Authority (TDA), which does business as the Wilmington and Beaches Convention and Visitors Bureau, and is responsible for marketing the area to help draw visitors.

Twenty years ago, city officials were working on where to put the center, eventually choosing to buy land situated on the north edge of the city adjacent to the Cape Fear River near PPD. The city started development of the project in the mid-2000s “as an economic driver to attract conventions and events that would result in the creation of new jobs and businesses in and around Wilmington and New Hanover County,” the center’s website states. The convention center complex cost $62 million to build and includes the 107,000-square-foot Wilmington Convention Center, a 578-space public


2 0 2 0 I N TO U R I S M

VISITOR STOPS

HERE’S A SNAPSHOT OF YEARLY ATTENDANCE FOR A SAMPLING OF LOCAL ATTRACTIONS

ATTENDANCE FY 1998-99

ATTENDANCE FY 2018-19

BELLAMY MANSION 9,760

24,019

CAPE FEAR MUSEUM 47,453

51,830

FORT FISHER HISTORIC SITE 150,979

Is your facility safe for the return of your employees and customers? Schedule your disinfection service now to prevent the spread of viruses. Full Facility Sanitization Applications for Covid-19 Commercial Cleaning and Janitorial Services

949,920

N.C. AQUARIUM AT FORT FISHER 312,501

465,246

ST. JOHN'S MUSEUM OF ART / CAMERON ART MUSEUM 14,628

51,598

WILMINGTON RAILROAD MUSEUM 13,302

18,149

SOURCE: WILMINGTON AND BEACHES CVB

parking deck and a 12,000-squarefoot event lawn/green space along the river. The nine-story, 186-room convention center hotel didn’t come until about eight years later. Embassy Suites by Hilton Wilmington Riverfront held its grand opening in March 2018. Although COVID-19 resulted in a loss of at least $2 million for the center, business and bookings were picking up as coronavirus pandemic restrictions were eased and fall 2020 began.

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reserving dignity.Mission Today! Repair, rebuild, and make homes accessible; and inspire Fostering independence. service, generosity, and hope. Mission

gton Area Rebuilding Ministry, Inc. (WARM) unites people of compassion to homes, assist in hurricane recovery, and restore hope for our low-income Repair, rebuild, and make homes ors, many of whom are elderly or disabled. We repair and rebuild ownerand inspire service, ed homesaccessible; in Brunswick, New Hanover, Pender, and Onslow Counties.

Vision

THOUS of l transf

( AND CO

ng dignity. All homeowners are safe in their homes. Mission tering independence. Areas of Focus generosity, and hope.

Area of Focus

Repair, rebuild, and make homes accessible; and inspire

g Ministry, Inc. (WARM) unitesgenerosity, people of compassion to service, and hope. ricane recovery, and restore hope for our low-income are elderly or disabled. We repair and rebuild ownerick, New Hanover, Pender, and Onslow Counties.

Learn how you can help at Learn how you can help at

Vision

Mission Health & are safe Preservation All homeowners in their homes. Fostering s at Home Safety Related of Affordable Dignity &

Health & Safety Related Repairs & and make homesRepairs accessible; and Housing inspire & all other aspects of life. Homeownership Accessibility ervice, generosity, and hope. Accessibility lly functioning, contaminant-free home Improvements

Area of Focus

Improvements protects resident health and safety. by severe weather, WARM supports our nd live with dignity and independence.

Vision

WARM’s work is only possible because of the thousands of dedicated volunteers and supporters who make up the WARM family. No matter your gift or talent, we can use you in mighty ways to make a difference in our local community.

Independence

warmnc.org warmnc.org Hurricane & Disaster Recovery & VOLUNTEER Rebuilding

DONATE

5058 Wrightsville Ave.

(910) 399-7563 | info@warmnc.org Wilmington, NC 28403 (910) 399-7563 5058 Wrightsville Ave. Wilmington, NC 28403

A

info@warmnc.org

stable home provides I have been very depressed, WARM is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, Federal Tax ID #56-2076795. All donations are but tax deductible. a strong foundation for the volunteers were meowners are safe in their homes. Wilming Certified partner R E V E A L P A N E L S all other aspects ofagency life.of so kind and helpful, they Rebuilding Homeownership restored my faith in humanity. Preservation Health & Preservation Fostering Hurricane itself brings a of Affordable Affordable sense of pride and security. A – WARM homeowner. es accessible; inspire fety Related and of Dignity & & Disaster O U T S I D E B A C K C O V E R O U T S I D E F R Housing y, and hope. fully functioning, contaminantRepairs & Housing Independence Recovery & Founded in 1996 after freeRebuilding home with proper ccessibility Hurricane Fran, WARM organizes accessibility improvements provements compassionate volunteers protects resident health and who show seniors, veterans, safety. children, and other low wealth By rebuilding a home in families that their community afe in their homes. disrepair or damaged by severe has not forgotten them. WARM Fostering weather, WARM supports a reservation Fostering Hurricane helps preserve their greatest R E V E A L P A N E L S Dignity & homeowner’s goal to remain Affordable Dignity & & Disaster asset for the next generation as Independence Housing Independence Recovery & self-sufficient and live with part of our community’s overall Rebuilding dignity and independence. response to the affordable

ion

Area of Focus

on

Areas

Supporting R E V E A L Dignity & ndependence

housing crisis.

Hurricane Hurricane & & Disaster Disaster Recovery& Recovery Rebuilding

P A N E L S


DID YOU Know?

In Brunswick, New Hanover, Onslow and Pender counties:

Peggy’s story After being employed by a factory for over 20 years, Peggy was told she could no longer work due to a heart condition. After her third pacemaker surgery, she received the crushing news that she also had skin cancer on her legs. While she should have been resting, Peggy was forced to worry about the condition of her home. Her roof was deteriorating above her, causing water damage inside. The resulting mold threatened her respiratory health. WARM volunteers and donors provided critical repairs that Peggy could not afford on her own, providing a healthier place to recover and given her peace of mind so she can focus on her health.

33%

of households are cost-burdened(when a family spends more than 31% of their budget on housing)*

50%

of older adults with lower income suffer from social isolation, which can be as dangerous to health as smoking or obesity**

$19

are saved in Medicare/ Medicaid costs for every $1 spent on home repairs**

*NC Housing Finance Agency, 2019 **AARP, 2018

WARM steps in WITH...

SERVICE, GENEROSITY AND HOPE!

Peggy and WARM volunteers (2019) The WARM Impact:

150+

homes repaired each year

1500

homes repaired since inception

30k+

volunteer hours donated annually


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IT ’ S NOT J U ST T H E PO RT CI T Y NIC KN AME. HOLLY WOOD EA ST. WILMY WOOD. T HOSE ARE SO ME O F T H E MON IKERS O F T H E B U ST LI NG FILM INDU ST R Y T H AT HAPPEN ED TO MU SH R O O M I N WILMINGTON A F T ER SO MEO NE SAW A PHOTO O F O RTO N PLANTAT ION A ND T H O U G H T IT ’ D BE A GO O D B ACK D R O P FOR ST EPH EN K I NG ’S FIRE STARTER. SINC E T HEN A NU MB ER O F PRODUCT IONS CA ME TO HOLLY WOOD EA ST A ND WI T H IT PLEN T Y O F D I SCU SSI O N ABOUT HOW B EST TO K EEP T HEM COMI NG .

20 20

IN BIZ

FILM

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PHOTO C/O MARVEL ENTERTAINMENT

2020 IN FILM

Second assistant camera Johnny Mac marks the beginning of a take on Iron Man 3 with Robert Downey Jr. The Marvel feature filmed in Wilmington in 2012, a peak year for production spending for the Port City.

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2020 IN FILM

MORE ‘ACTION!’ TRYING TO REVIVE HOLLYWOOD EAST Once-thriving local film industry showed signs of new life before pandemic began

I

director, Wilmington has often had an on-again, off-again relationship with film. COVID-19, which hit U.S. shores in late January, hasn’t made this relationship any easier, leaving many to wonder what the next installment in this long-running series will look like.

Unfortunately, it’s not the stuff of studio backlots and sound stages. Rather, it’s the current reality facing Wilmington’s film production landscape, once affectionately called “Hollywood East.” In 2012, the local industry hit a milestone with filming for Marvel’s Iron Man 3 taking place that summer in the Port City. While Iron Man 3 was a pinnacle for the area, more than 400 film, television and commercial projects have been shot at EUE/Screen Gems Studios at its 23rd Street location since 1985. “Prior to the pandemic in March, we were on track to have another banner year in Wilmington,” said Johnny Griffin, director of the Wilmington Regional Film Commission. “Now production has been halted globally.” But the news isn’t all bad, Griffin said. “The good news is that we still have all of the elements which made [Wilmington] attractive – crew, stages, incentives ...” he said. “We are still receiving strong interest and believe that once Hollywood determines how to work in this new era, Wilmington will do very well.” Although home to one of the industry’s leading production studios once headed by the likes of Frank Capra Jr., son of the legendary Hollywood

Wilmington’s cameras first started rolling in 1983 when producer Dino de Laurentiis came to town to film Firestarter, starring Drew Barrymore. “For me, personally, it began with the film Cat’s Eye in 1984,” said Griffin, describing his earliest memories of moviemaking in the Cape Fear. “That was my first film job while I was on summer break during college.” Filmmakers and TV shows continued to come to town and to the region, including locations in Brunswick and Pender counties. Griffin said the 1985 cult classic Blue Velvet starring Dennis Hopper, the explosion of TV movie productions in the ’90s and, more recently, 2012’s Iron Man 3, which grossed over $1.2 billion worldwide, all helped put Wilmington on the cinematic map. “In the early days, we were all young and eager to learn,” he said. “The ‘Wilmington crew’ has always been referred to as a family, which still sets us apart from other film locales around the country.” But that close-knit family started drifting apart in 2014 when state film incentives in the form of tax credits expired, creating a regional film diaspora. Productions stopped floating into the Port City, and many left with their families for film work elsewhere, including nearby Georgia.

BY DAVID FREDERIKSEN

T ALMOST SOUNDS LIKE A SCARY MOVIE. A SOUTHERN COASTAL TOWN TRYING HARD TO RECLAIM ITS PLACE AS A FILM HOTSPOT GETS HIT BY A GLOBAL PANDEMIC.

EARLY YEARS, INCENTIVES & HB2

w i l m i n g t o n b i z m a g a z i n e . c o m

A film grant program, funded at $31 million each fiscal year now, was established to try and keep film in Wilmington running, but some regarded it as small change in an industry wellknown for hundred-million-dollar budgets. “It was hard to see production taken away from us by other states with only incentives to offer,” Griffin said. “We were known for our history, crews, stages and locations. But none of that mattered.” What seemed to matter was the bottom line, he said. “The industry was being run more by accountants who only saw the dollar,” Griffin said. “It was hard to watch it dry up through the actions of the legislature, which did not fully understand or appreciate the far-reaching impacts of this unique industry.” Guy Gaster, director of the N.C. Film Office, who knows well the state’s history of film and tax incentives, also pointed to an overall misunderstanding – if not underestimating – by legislators and others of the power of film. “I believe there was also a feeling among some legislators and elected officials that these projects would still remain in the state,” he said, “despite film officials sharing their doubts on this feeling as a result of the industry being one of the few that truly pass the ‘but for’ test and seeing how this had played out previously in other states.” And as if economics didn’t make a big enough dent, a heated culture war was about to leave its own scuff mark. With the passing of North Carolina’s House Bill 2 (HB2) in March 2016, which required residents to use public restrooms that corresponded with the FA L L 2020

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gender on their birth certificates, film and other entertainment industries began to avoid Wilmington like, well, a plague of dramatic proportion. The following year HB2 was repealed, but the damage was already done as filming activity remained light until a recent revival, brought on in part as the industry poured more resources into the growing niche of streaming services.

FILM UPTICK, A PANDEMIC GRIP, THE WAY FORWARD

In late November 2018, a midnight boat explosion on Greenfield Lake signaled for many a new day for Wilmington film that would climax the following year. The explosion was, of course, controlled and deliberate, part of the script for a new production in town called Swamp Thing. In addition to filming in the Port City’s naturally swampy, woodsy areas, the Warner Bros.-DC Universe production utilized EUE/Screen Gems Studios’ specially designed water tank in Stage 10, home away from home for the comic book’s tall, dark and viny main character. Alongside Swamp Thing was Uncle Frank, a 2019 Wilmington-based production. Halloween Kills, starring Jamie Lee Curtis, and The Georgetown Project, starring Russell Crowe also wrapped in Wilmington in 2019. It was, as Griffin described, a “banner year,” with Wilmington-area film and TV productions contributing more than $130 million in direct spending in the state, according to the N.C. Department of Commerce. Overall in 2019, North Carolina garnered a total of $167 million in direct spending on film projects statewide and 11,820 jobs, according to the N.C. Department of Commerce. It was the most spending by productions in the Wilmington area and the state overall in the past five years. Then, suddenly, “Cut!” The year 2020 ushered in COVID-19, halting film production here at home and around the country. More than six months into the

pandemic, Griffin said local film production remains at a “standstill,” with film professionals “anxious to return to work.” “All productions are watching COVID,” he said. “Every conversation ends with ‘But we are watching the [infection rate] numbers.’ I think that North Carolina is doing better than our competition and that folks are seeing lower numbers, less dense population and an out-of-the-way location as being attractive.” Gaster agreed. “As this pandemic has hit and slowed down the progress we have seen in film production statewide, I still see a strong interest in North Carolina and a healthy pipeline of productions that want to shoot in the state …,” he said. Industry feedback about the future of film in Wilmington and across the region has been positive and encouraging, said Griffin, adding that any hiccups here “will be due to the industry as a whole, not an issue specific to this region.” “Our incentive has remained stable, which is attractive, and the hesitation over the lingering effects of HB2 are disappearing ... On recent trips to LA, there is definitely a renewed interest in Wilmington and less talk about the negatives. The meetings have been productive and encouraging.” Gaster pointed to safety as one of the big unanswered questions. “The key is how do you restart and provide safe working conditions? I do believe that North Carolina has positioned itself well for a restart, and this position will help the industry grow statewide,” he said. Gaster said a lot of work has already been done “signaling” to production companies that cameras across the Tarheel State, including Wilmington, are ready to roll again. “The fact that we have had past success with on-location production is a plus if needing more outdoor locations,” he said. “But I don’t think you can overlook the additional benefit of a place like EUE/Screen

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2020 IN FILM

FROM THE ARCHIVES “F ilm insiders: Industry on the upswing” – August 2000 Just like any good movie, Wilmington’s film industry has had its ups and downs. A perusal through the Greater Wilmington Business Journal’s archives proves it, with an August 2000 edition declaring that the industry was making a comeback. It had lost $23 million in revenue in 1999, mostly to Canada, which was offering tax breaks and other incentives. Still, North Carolina remained the third-highest filmproducing state in the country. The money coming and going is a familiar storyline. By the end of 2014, North Carolina’s plentiful incentive program was replaced with a smaller grant program. Filming in the Wilmington area practically stopped for a few years, and many productions went down to Georgia. These days, the grant program has more than $30 million available to productions that fall within its guidelines. Wilmington’s film industry is picking up speed after a busy 2019, and at least three productions were in the works in the Port City as of the beginning of September. The coronavirus pandemic may result in more productions coming, as the Wilmington area has had fewer cases than other parts of the country that might have been chosen.

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Gems Studios and how that can also create a contained work environment as well. We have also been working with various North Carolina entities to … [get] access to testing materials as well as PPE.” Signs emerged in early 2020 that film activity in Wilmington could be on the rebound, with satirical horror movie Scream 5 and a Hallmark Channel movie with the working title of USS Christmas on the production roster. More recently added to that was season 2 of Hightown, a series being produced by Lionsgate Television for the Starz Network. Griffin still sees potential for the area’s future. “As we were heading into March, things were looking positive for a strong year. As production is resuming it still looks good for Wilmington because of the incentive, crew, stages [at EUE Screen Gems] and the momentum that has been built,” Griffin said. “The discussions have been strong, numerous and frequent with clients, even during this COVID pandemic.” Freelance writer Jenny Callison contributed to this article.

FILM ACTIVITY $250M

250 200

• DAWSON'S CREEK

$150M

• S UMMER CATCH

$200M

• DAW

(2000-2003)

150

$100M

100 50 $50M

0 1999 2000 2001 2002 200 2

1999

PRODUCTION LISTINGS

A SAMPLING OF TV SHOWS AND MOVIES FILMED IN THE AREA OVER THE PAST TWO DECADES

2000

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2002

• BLACK KNIGHT • D IVINE SECRETS OF THE YA-YA SISTERHOOD • D OMESTIC DISTURBANCE • A WALK TO REMEMBER

Source: Wilmington Regional Film Commission

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WHAT COMES NEXT?

E

UE/SCREEN GEMS STUDIOS IS MORE THAN THE STAGES, SETS, LIGHTING EQUIPMENT AND FILMWORKERS YOU SEE AS YOU DRIVE DOWN 23RD STREET.

B I L L VASSER with the declining related deaths means we’re one of the safest places in the United States to work. We’re assisting productions to conceive and institute COVID safety precautions. Combined with the capacity of one of the largest studio production facilities east of California, our local world-class crew and the extensive group of experienced production support businesses means that today we’re one of the most attractive production centers in the United States. The Hallmark film USS Christmas just shot in Wilmington, and the fifth Scream film goes before the camera this month. In October, we’ll see the second-

We are TV and film production problem solvers. Producers, directors and financiers from around the world rely on us to help solve complex production issues at reasonable costs. The goal is less waste on the cutting room floor and more money on the screen. Over the last 20 years, we have worked with our elected officials in Raleigh to make North Carolina more financially attractive. The TV and Film Grant has helped attract business and create new, 21st-century jobs, provided significant economic impact and increased local and state tax revenue. Today, Wilmington offers a new unforeseen attraction. The number of people testing positive for COVID and

ANNUAL SPENDING FROM LOCAL PRODUCTIONS

year production of the hit Starz series Hightown. The story takes place on Cape Cod. Producer Lionsgate Television has relocated Hightown from New York to Wilmington because our area is better suited to cover for the Cape. This combined with our facility, the workers and the state incentive, made it a no-brainer to be in Wilmington. Five other productions are evaluating the area to begin production by the end of this year or in early 2021. Advancing technologies, the everchanging means of distribution and the evolution of people’s tastes means it’s impossible to predict how our industry will look in 20 years. If EUE/Screen Gems remains flexible, innovative, cost effective and we perpetuate our reputation as production problem solvers, I expect we’ll continue to be successful and grow our business significantly over the next 20 years.

Bill Vassar is executive vice president at EUE/Screen Gems Studios in Wilmington. *2018 and 2019 are still preliminary, but close approximations, as the Wilmington Regional Film Commission waits for audits to be completed

• EASTBOUND & DOWN

• ONE TREE HILL

(2007-2013)

(2003-2011)

WSON'S CREEK (2000-2003)

• IRON MAN 3

• H ALLOWEEN KILLS • U NCLE FRANK

• TAMMY • S LEEPY HOLLOW (2013-2014)

• U NDER THE DOME (2013-2015)

• THE CHOICE

2002 012003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 '2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019

2003

2004

2005

2006

2007

• SURFACE • HOUNDDOG

2008

2009

2010

2011

• IDLEWILD

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2013

2014

2015

2016

2017

• SAFE HAVEN • W E’RE THE MILLERS • REVOLUTION

• T HE SECRET LIVES OF BEES

• N IGHTS IN RODANTHE

2012

2018

2019

• REPRISAL (2018-2019) • SWAMP THING • W ORDS ON BATHROOM WALLS

• T HE CONJURING • JOURNEY 2: THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND

• G OOD BEHAVIOR (2016-2017)

2014

2015

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Celebrating 30 years serving Wilmington! PROFILES IN BUSINESS: Sponsors’ Content.

There have been many changes over the last 30 years, but one thing remains the same: our commitment to serving our clients. Perry’s Emporium didn’t start out as Wilmington’s largest jewelry store – in fact, quite the opposite. Starting from a humble beginning in a small space, Perry’s Emporium has grown with the Wilmington area. Customers quickly recognized the difference the team at Perry’s Emporium was able to provide – an incredible experience, knowledgeable staff, vast selection, and beautiful, one-of-a-kind antique and estate pieces. With Alan Perry at the helm, the store has an incredibly inviting positive energy that encourages customers to browse at their leisure. And never losing sight of his humble beginnings, Alan Perry makes giving back a priority — donating an estimated $1 million dollars and countless volunteer hours over the past 30 years to several charities in our community. Each shopper helps that tradition continue. While we are known for our massive selection of diamonds and wedding bands, we also carry


BEFORE

designer jewelry brands, bracelets, earrings, estate jewelry, watches, and rings. Whether browsing through our bridal collection, looking for an anniversary gift, or treating yourself to something special, we have it here for you at Perry’s Emporium. Finding homes for our wide selection of jewelry in stock is just part of our family owned and operated business. We also have our very own jewelry repair shop staffed by experienced craftspeople, which serves to address any of your jewelry repair needs. You can have confidence that your most precious valuables will be well cared for, as most everything is completed in-house. Want something unique that truly reflects your style? Perry’s Emporium’s custom jewelry design services are just for you. From start to finish, our team of experts helps your idea come to life using their state-of-the-art computer-aided design technology and over 100 years combined of jewelry and gemology experience.

If you want to take the experience of designing custom jewelry to the next level, Perry’s also recently added an opportunity for you to handcraft a special piece of jewelry yourself! Guided by one of our six talented jewelers, this process can make one of life’s most memorable moments even more special by combining it with the experience of hammering, soldering, and filing your own wedding bands. Much like the love for your special someone, the memories of such an exclusive experience will last forever. Don’t forget about the Rainy Day Diamond Guarantee – if you buy your engagement ring from Perry’s and it rains on your wedding day, your diamond is free! Visit our showroom at 2520 Independence Boulevard, Suite 100, Wilmington, NC 28412, near the intersection of Independence Blvd. and Shipyard Blvd. Call us at 910.392.6721 or visit www. perrysemporium.com


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J O H N A N D E R S O N , Agent/Broker, Maus Warwick Matthews & Co. 910.616.9505 | janderson@mwmrealestate.com PA R K E R A N D E R S O N Developer, SAMM Properties 910.200.6614 parker@sammproperties.comm

Profile for WilmBiz

WilmingtonBiz Magazine-Fall 2020 issue  

WilmingtonBiz Magazine-Fall 2020 issue  

Profile for wilmbiz