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2019

SPARK

ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT + INNOVATION

THE PUSH TO REBUILD A DIVERSE BUSINESS COMMUNITY

port CUCALORUS AT 25: THE FILM FESTIVAL GROWS UP

POTENTIAL The Port of Wilmington makes a run to compete at the next level

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BUSINESS BUSINESS JOURNAL JOURNAL reater

ilmington

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KEEPING PROMISES FOR 25 YEARS

(910) 395-6036

WWW.MCKINLEYBUILDING.COM


FULLY LEASED & SOLD

SALE / LEASEBACK

SOLD

SOLD

R E S U L T S. D R I V E N.

1430 Commonwealth Drive, Suite 102 Wilmington, NC 28403 910.350.1200

cbcsuncoast.com

C O M M E R C I A L R E A L E S TAT E BROKERAGE I CONSULTING I PROPERTY MANAGEMENT


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SPARK ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT + INNOVATION

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AN ISSUE OF RACE

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C O M PA R I N G HQS

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C O V E R S T O R Y: P O R T ’ S I M PA C T

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BUILDING BLOCKS

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CUCALORUS E VO LV E S

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IN PROFILE: INDIOMICS

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LURING TECH TALENT

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EVENT PLANNING GUIDE

MARKETING SECTION

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LETTER FROM THE EDITOR BIZ BITES BEHIND THE NUMBERS SOUND OFF NEWS DIGEST C-SUITE CONVO THE TAKEAWAY

F E AT U R E S

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RESTAURANT ROUNDUP: BEER CITY

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IN PROFILE: DONNA GIRARDOT

ON THE COVER

76 photo by T.J. Drechsel

Using a drone camera, photographer T.J. Drechsel captured activity at the Port of Wilmington as a ship arrived to be unloaded.

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Actionable Information

WilminGton B iz 2 0 1 9 c o m m e r c i a l r e a l e s tat e i s s u e

Planting roots

Lloyd Singleton on tree management for storm prep Page 9

W ILMINGTONB IZ

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

$2.00

wilmingtonbiz.com

DIGITAL EXCLUSIVE

M A G A Z I N E

“Buoys” by Nicole Roggeman – oil on canvas

Wilmington’s Key to Business Intelligence BOB is here

The 2019 Book on Business is out. To get a copy or order a downloadable version, go to wilmingtonbiz.com/bookonbusiness

Closing up shop

Several national retailers are shuttering stores Page 10

Cheers for causes

The social side of philanthropy Page 19

Index

PHOTO BY MICHAEL CLINE SPENCER

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 • Bi-weekly Business Journals mailed to your office or home • The 2019 Book on Business mailed to you • At least 20 extra IQ points with your added business knowledge!

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-

B ETSON DOWNTOWN

JAMES GOODNIGHT

2019

BOOK ON BUSINESS

He’s rehabbed some of the city’s historic structures as outside investment continues to grow OCEANIC REBUILDS AFTER FLORENCE WHAT’S UP WITH CHUCK (SCHONINGER)

See ILM, page 13

A PUBLICATION OF

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LETTER FROM THE EDITOR

WATERSHED

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MOMENTS

t’s 9:12 a.m. Sept. 16. In about three hours we send to this issue off to the printers. Four or so hours later, the New Hanover County commissioners will take up a resolution about whether to explore a sale – or some other form of management shakeup – of New Hanover Regional Medical Center, the region’s largest employer and a major driver of the local economy. That’s the reason this issue – with our annual economic development and innovation focus – doesn’t include a feature on arguably the most pressing economic choice facing the region: whether to sell the county-owned health system to an outside player. It’s an inconvenient time to go to press. The resolution is expected to pass as a majority of the five county commissioners have already expressed their intentions to see what the market will offer. But you never know in politics. So instead we’ll have to cover it as it comes (check wilmingtonbiz.com for updates). There have been other watershed moments in Wilmington’s economic history worth noting. There was the day in 1955 when officials with the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad said they planned to move their headquarters from Wilmington to Jacksonville, Florida. The wakeup call led to the creation of the Committee of 100, the predecessor to Wilmington Business Development, and helped attract Corning and GE, among others. There was the Great Recession, when the housing bubble burst reminded us again about the need to diversify the area’s economy. There was the first day of school for 238 freshmen in 1946 for what would become Wilmington College and then the University of

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North Carolina Wilmington, which this fall saw a record enrollment of 17,499 students. There was the moment Frank Capra Jr. saw a photo of Orton Plantation, setting in motion the 1984 movie Firestarter and the eventual film industry build up in Wilmington (later followed by the state legislature’s vote in 2014 to jump out of the film tax incentives fray and to a grant program that limited competitiveness with other states.) There was June 29, 1990, when the stretch of Interstate 40 to Wilmington opened, bringing a boost in new companies locating to the Port City and logistics connections for the port itself. There have been big moments and numerous small decisions in between that have shaped Southeastern North Carolina and its economy, and those will continue. But Sept. 16 likely isn’t one of them. That future watershed date is still to be determined when the county commissioners decide what to do – or not to do – with the future of NHRMC.

VICKY JANOWSKI, EDITOR vjanowski@wilmingtonbiz.com

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Wilmington B iz

CONTRIBUTORS

M A G A Z I N E

FA L L 2 0 1 9 – $ 4 . 9 5

T. J . DRECHSEL T.J. DRECHSEL of Drechsel Photography is a Wilmington-based photographer whose work has been featured in national magazines including WILMA, Greater Wilmington Business Journal, Wrightsville Beach Magazine, and North Brunswick Magazine. He specializes in wedding and landscape photography. Drechsel photographed this issue’s cover and portions of “Port City” (PAGE 34). He also checked in with local breweries for “Crafting a Scene” (PAGE 18). tjdrechselphotography.com

Publisher 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

cnunn@wilmingtonbiz.com

CHRISTINA H A L E Y O ’ N E A L CHRISTINA HALEY O’NEAL is a reporter for the Greater Wilmington Business Journal, covering regional topics such as the local economy, major employers, transportation and film. O’Neal looks at Wilmington’s corporate headquarters inventory on page 32 and has updates on some major infrastructure projects on PAGE 42. She also takes a deep dive into the Port of Wilmington’s operations and next chapter in “Port City” (PAGE 34).

Reporters Johanna Cano

jcano@wilmingtonbiz.com

Christina Haley O'Neal

chaley@wilmingtonbiz.com

VP of Sales/Business Development Melissa Pressley

mpressley@wilmingtonbiz.com

Senior Account Executive Craig Snow

csnow@wilmingtonbiz.com

Account Executives Ali Buckley

abuckley@wilmingtonbiz.com

Polly Holly pholly@wilmingtonbiz.com

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 talks with members of the efforts to build a more inclusive business community in “Black or White” (PAGE 26) and works with writer Kyle Hanlin to document the local craft beer industry in “Crafting a Scene” (PAGE 18).

Brittney Keen

bkeen@wilmingtonbiz.com

Business Manager Nancy Proper

nproper@wilmingtonbiz.com

Events Director Maggi Apel

mapel@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

MICHAEL C L I N E SPENCER MICHAEL CLINE SPENCER, owner of Michael Cline Photography, is a Wilmington-based freelance photojournalist with over fifteen years’ experience working at several prominent North Carolina newspapers. He specializes in corporate, editorial, pet and wedding photography. Spencer photographed Donna Girardot for “Consensus Builder” (PAGE 22), business owners for “Black or White” (PAGE 26) and film crew activity for “The Takeaway” (PAGE 80). michaelclinephoto.com

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Content Marketing Editor David Dean

ddean@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 ap h e r s

Chris Brehmer, Erin Costa, Megan Deitz, T.J. Drechsel, Michael Cline Spencer, Terah Wilson

Subscribe

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


BizBites BEHIND THE NUMBERS

CANINE CLEANUP

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SOUND OFF |

THE DIGEST

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C SUITE CONVO

photo by TERAH WILSON

One local company is hoping to put a leash on the clean-dog market. Lelandbased K9000 Dog Wash USA LLC formed last year between Australia-based Tru Blu K9000 Dog Wash and Manufacturing Methods. Through a multi-year contract with Tru Blu K9000, the Leland operation builds self-serve dog wash machines (like the one pictured above on Oleander Drive) and handles sales and support for the K9000 brand in the U.S. “We want to add more model types,” said company CEO Pete Peterson, who also heads up Manufacturing Methods, “… and add more technology and internet access to make the K9000 even smarter than it is today.”

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WILMINGTON

HOW WILMINGTON DEVELOPS ECONOMICALLY will continue to be shaped by a report commissioned by New Hanover County several years ago, officials said recently. It’s been five years since the county received its economic development target analysis from Atlanta-based consultant firm Garner Economics LLC. The firm released the report titled “Pathways to Prosperity: New Hanover County’s Plan for Jobs and Investment” in 2014. It included an analysis of the area’s competitiveness, strengths and weaknesses for economic vitality, as well as a list of recommendations for improving job creation and retention and private investment. City and county elected officials met to choose initial priorities from the report’s recommendations. “It has been helping to guide the investments and choices the county is making,” Beth Schrader, the county’s chief strategy officer, recently said about the report. “Some of the priorities are multiyear projects, which take investment and a significant amount of time, but it certainly continues to serve as a guide.” Many of the priorities in the report are in the process of being implemented or in upcoming plans, she said. For example, one of the six recommendations that took priority was beefing up infrastructure. The county targeted water and sewer development along the U.S. 421 industrial corridor. A more than $12 million project there is nearly complete. The county has also paid Wilmington Business Development (WBD) to help develop a master plan and other work for the county’s industrial property on Blue Clay Road. Other priorities included developing an incentive policy, creating a micromarketing strategy for the tri-county area and, better supporting small and new businesses. The county is now in the process of updating data associated with the report to get a sense of how far things have come since the report’s creation and what has changed, Schrader said. The U.S. Economic Development Administration provided volunteers through the International Economic Development Council to assist the county in a review and analysis of the report, among other projects, Schrader said. “The updated data and reports are being compiled now,” she said, “to share with commissioners and our community over the next few months.”

NEW HANOVER COUNTY

REPORT’S RELEASE

BY CHRISTINA HALEY O'NEAL

WIND SPEED OF CAROLINA SHORES TORNADO CAUSED BY

HURRICANE DORIAN

SINCE THE GARNER

NEW HANOVER COUNTY CONTINUES TO CHECK ON ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT STUDY

120 MPH

17K + FALL UNCW STUDENT ENROLLMENT, A RECORD FOR THE SCHOOL

Sources: National Weather Service, NHRMC, Cape Fear Realtors, UNCW


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is a new Business Journal initiative to recognize the top 100 Power Players, Influencers, Innovators, Connectors and Rising Stars impacting Southeastern North Carolina’s business landscape. The individuals selected will be featured in WilmingtonBiz Magazine’s December issue.

Learn more about the program at

WilmingtonBiz100.com If you're interested in sponsoring the WilmingtonBiz 100 section and event, contact Melissa Pressley at (910) 343-8600 x203 or mpressley@wilmingtonbiz.com.


BizBites

I

SOUND OFF SPARKING WAVES OF INNOVATION

N MID-SEPTEMBER, I ATTENDED THE CONFERENCE OF THE SOUTHEASTERN MEMBERS OF THE ANGEL CAPITAL ASSOCIATION IN DURHAM

J I M ROBERTS

to represent the Wilmington Angels for Local Entrepreneurs (WALE) and to play the role of the fox in the hen house for the entrepreneurs of Wilmington to meet more regional investors. I had the “luck” of intentionally sitting next to the leaders of the Charleston, South Carolina, ecosystem, which is 10 years ahead of Wilmington. John Osborne leads the local investor group and also started the entrepreneur development support organization and ecosystem. John started the Harbor Entrepreneur Center and is an executive of the Charleston Angel Partners. I asked him how Charleston flipped the switch to ignite the funding of startups in what was considered a very conservative region with an older demographic with inherited wealth or wealth made through real estate. Sound familiar? The first wave of successful entrepreneurs with large returns really succeeded without the help of a formal ecosystem. One of the scaling startups named Blackbaud had an initial public offering on Wall Street for a HUGE return on investment for the founders, investors and employees. Others had acquisitions in the hundreds of millions of dollars. The second wave of successful entrepreneurs was a direct result of serial

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entrepreneurs, employees with equity from those first-wave startup exits and of course the returns from those first-wave exits were now reinvested to make more money. There have now been 12 companies in Charleston with exit events of over $50 million that gave investors a great return on investment. There is now a third wave of entrepreneurs benefiting from the foundation built by the previous two generations of waves of successful entrepreneurs. Due to the prior success of the entrepreneurs in the region, they have given back or are paying it forward to fund much more formal infrastructure in place to find entrepreneurship programming and formal investment vehicles. Where is Wilmington now? Well, it is no secret that the Live Oak Bank family of companies is succeeding without the help of an existing entrepreneur ecosystem prior to 2013. nCino is now a “unicorn” of being valued at over a billion dollars from the last round of funding. The next Live Oak Bank branch of startups includes Apiture with well over 100 employees who are making great salaries in a very nice office environment. And we are all very aware that NextGlass, now known as Untappd, was listed in 2018 among the fastest-growing privately held companies by the Inc. 5000 listing. When I met NextGlass in M A G A Z I N E

2013, they were basically a father-andson team with a co-founder friend who worked in Charlotte. They have participated more in the local ecosystem and Coastal Corridor between Raleigh and Wilmington with appearances at statewide investor pitch events. There is now a secondary wave of Wilmington startups that have been very active in the ecosystem built since 2013. Among those startups that are scaling and hiring include Lapetus Solutions, EasyVote Solutions and Connected Investors. So as the density of startups grows in Wilmington, those entrepreneurs will need capital as the fuel for growth. The ecosystem is maturing with three-and-ahalf angel networks and funds. The Wilmington Investor Network (WIN) is the granddaddy of local angel investor activity. They have educated this market for well over a decade and host events and mentor entrepreneurs at tekMountain.

2019

SPARK

S PA R K IDEAS

EDITOR'S NOTE: The Greater Wilmington Business Journal is launching a regular series of op-eds, opinion columns about ideas for sparking economic growth in the region. If you have a column topic to be considered, email editor@ wilmingtonbiz.com


BizBites

Wilmington Angels for Local Entrepreneurs (WALE) is a very small group of angels who have made 13 investments since November of 2015 with the region covered by a portfolio of startups in Wilmington, Myrtle Beach and Raleigh/Durham. Six of those startups were founded by military veterans. VentureSouth is the newest player in Wilmington and is actually part of a 12-city syndication of angel networks in the Carolinas. The half-network is the IMAF Cape Fear fund. While they have invested all of their funds, they still have an active portfolio of promising regional companies that include Kwipped and Untappd locally. Maybe they will invest again after they harvest the returns from these investments. The Coastal Corridor is alive and kicking as Network for Entrepreneurs (NEW) has opened Interstate 40 as a two-way street between the assets of Raleigh/Durham and Wilmington. We have hosted over 60 investors in the past four years at our events at Ironclad Brewery in downtown Wilmington. We have sponsored Wilmington entrepreneurs to buy tickets for them to attend investor-related events in Raleigh/Durham. Among the other new pieces of the growing infrastructure for entrepreneurs in Wilmington is the new structured mentor program at UNCW CIE. This was funded by the NC IDEA Ecosystem Grant. Our next event – Oct. 15 at Ironclad Brewery – is themed Mystery Startup Theater where three high profile mentors, instead of the entrepreneurs, will give the value proposition pitch of the local startups to the audience made up of investors and other entrepreneurs. Please get involved to help us retain the young bright minds in Wilmington. Jim Roberts is the founder of Network for Entrepreneurs and Wilmington Angels for Local Entrepreneurs. He has worked in entrepreneur development for 19 years in North Carolina.

CROWDSOURCING REACTIONS, OPINIONS AND QUOTABLES FROM OUR ONLINE SOUNDING BOARDS

O N FA C E B O O K . C O M / W I L M I N GT O N B I Z IT’S BEEN A YEAR SINCE HURRICANE FLORENCE MADE LANDFALL IN THE AREA. IF YOU WERE IMPACTED PERSONALLY OR THROUGH YOUR BUSINESS, HAVE YOU FULLY RECOVERED? “STILL DANCING AROUND between the insurance company and contractors.” – KACE COBLE WARD “NOT AT ALL ... We lost our home and everything. Losing worldly possessions is something one can overcome ... but the PTSD at such a young age? Now that’s another story.” – ANI LEONARD “WE LOST EVERYTHING, however dealing with federal disaster authorities was professionally a dream. Blessed to finally have found a home … Found all was not a total loss. What we’ve gained is a family of neighbors, friends that opened up their homes and hearts. Made our hell a heaven.” – PAT GRUBER

T W I T T E R P O L L : @ W I L M I N GT O N B I Z HOW CONCERNED ARE YOU STILL ABOUT GENX AND OTHER PFAS (THE GROUP OF MANMADE CHEMICALS THAT INCLUDES GENX) IN AREA DRINKING WATER?

STILL: MORE SHOULD BE DONE

6%

74%

20%

NOT: IT’S BEEN ADDRESSED UNSURE OF CURRENT STATUS

W I L M I N GT O N B I Z . C O M

READER REACTIONS

NHRMC LOOKS AT POTENTIALLY CHANGING OWNERSHIP STRUCTURE “THIS SALE WILL IMPACT 7 COUNTIES health and quality of life for multiple generations. The hospital belongs to its citizens, it is not a cash cow for other purposes.” – JENNIFER MORIN “WITH THE REVENUES AT A BILLION UP 64% since 2001 with a 74.8% market share the hospital is making money. So why sell with these figures? I would think that this being one of the crowning glories of New Hanover County, that the commissioners would NOT be for the sale of the hospital.” – JAMES HAYES

“THEY WANT TO SELL WHILE THE NUMBERS are still good. Only bad news for the healthcare industry in the future.” – ELIZABETH VAVRA SIGN UP FOR DAILY NEWS UPDATES AND SUBSCRIBE TO THE GREATER WILMINGTON BUSINESS JOURNAL AT WILMINGTONBIZ.COM

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SOUND OFF

BizBites

A LITTLE BIT ADDS UP

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OW WOULD YOU LIKE TO EARN AN EXTRA $100,000 A YEAR?

A D A M J O N E S

The key is incremental improvements over the course of a career, just as the key to building a vibrant and resilient Southeastern North Carolina is tackling both the small and large projects. From 2010 to 2016, over half the employment growth in North Carolina came from businesses with between five and 500 employees, and those under 100 employees accounted for over a third of the growth! If you’ll let me be a little cliché for a moment, when it comes to economic development, it’s the little things that matter. Wilmington is a town of small businesses, franchisees and risk-takers who are willing to take a risk to pursue their dream in a beautiful region. For our region to be successful and resilient, we need to continue to build out the support structures for these businesses. For example, many small or young businesses are often undercapitalized, and unexpected events, such as hurricanes, can be devastating. In addition, a tourism-based economy is particularly exposed to hurricane threats as revenue is generated from short-term transactions and is not easily made up. A week of downtime in a multiyear construction project may be easier to make up than a week of lost rental revenue. (Note, this loss of business is likely more true for smaller hurricanes with disruptive impacts than major hurricanes with

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destructive impacts.) Building a resilient local economy must be part of our economic development strategy – easier said than done. Over the years, economic development has gone through waves of approaches with the first wave being the use of incentives to recruit and attract large, typically industrial, employers. However, the effectiveness of incentives in long-term economic development is hotly debated. The second wave of approaches, taking hold in the late ’90s and early 2000s, was aimed at retaining existing business and nurturing entrepreneurs. Finally, the third and more contemporary view is to facilitate development through good policy, programs to support existing businesses and the use of incentives to fill holes and develop a resilient ecosystem. Coastal regions are unique in that they must be both economically and environmentally resilient. Returning to the local case, if each New Hanover County business under 100 employees hired one new employee, the county’s annual employment growth would then double. And if we can help the businesses expand their footprint and grow, they’re more likely to build capital, diversify their customer base and improve the region’s economic and environmental resiliency. While the theory of how to help grow our businesses and economy is M A G A Z I N E

straightforward, the execution is much more difficult. On the human capital side, efforts include increasing professional networks through the Business Journal and chamber’s events, staying up to date with current trends through outlook events, etc., and building personal capacity through professional – and especially leadership – development. We also need to encourage venture capital, angel investors, traditional funding sources and personal financial literacy to create opportunities for personal investment. And from a policy perspective, we need to make sure the regulatory process is easily navigable and maybe even encourage local participation in the governmental bid process to build experience and capacity. As always, the execution is the difficult part, but the momentum is building locally. If you’re still reading then you’re probably hoping to find details on how to make an extra $100,000 a year, and the answer is incremental improvements. Starting out at age 22 making $33K a year and getting a 4% raise each year means you’ll earn a little over $100,000 more at age 65 than if you got a 2% raise. An extra 2% growth in the region over 10 years means an additional $3 billion in the local economy, or $11,000 per person. A little bit, over a long time, equals a lot. Adam Jones is a regional economist with UNCW’s Swain Center and an associate professor of economics in UNCW’s Cameron School of Business.


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BizBites

DIGEST THE

A R O U N DU P O F R E C E N T NE WS

PHOTO BY MICHAEL CLINE SPENCER

PHOTO BY CLEAR SKY IMAGES

S AW M I L L P O I N T S E L L S FOR MORE THAN $65M Downtown Wilmington waterfront apartment community Sawmill Point recently sold for more than $65 million, according to property tax records. It was the highest sale recorded in New Hanover County this year as of July 10, tax records show, and likely to be one of the highest sales of the entire year. The full price was $65.25 million. The four-story, 280-unit luxury apartment development in northern downtown Wilmington along the Cape Fear River now belongs to Chaucer Creek Capital, a Raleighbased apartment owner and asset manager, stated a news release from Newmark Knight Frank’s (NKF) Multifamily Capital Markets team. In Wilmington, Chaucer Creek Capital (CCC) also owns Mayfaire Flats on Sir Tyler Drive and is a partner in the development of upcoming downtown apartment community The Flats on Front, on land in front of Sawmill Point. CCC’s website also lists the Headwaters at

Autumn Hall apartment complex off Eastwood Road as one of its assets. Built in 2017, Sawmill Point at 15 Cowan St. includes marina access, one- and two-bedroom units on 3 acres of green space fronting 815 feet along the Cape Fear River and direct gated access to the 1.8-mile Riverwalk. The seller was The Davis Companies of Boston, an owner and developer of residential units across the eastern United States and a joint venture with Gemini Partners LLC, an entity consisting of Capital Properties, The Wills Companies, Fideli Investments and Symphony Properties LLC.

 Representing The Davis Companies in the sale were NKF’s senior managing director Alex Okulski; vice chairmen John Heimburger, Dean Smith and Sean Wood; and managing directors Jason Kon and John Munroe, the release stated. Cary-based Symphony Properties represented the venture as the developer in the transaction with CCC, according to the release.

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HURRICANE SEASON RETURNS: Nearly a year after

Hurricane Florence caused widespread damage to the region, residents and businesses found themselves once again in storm-prep mode earlier this month. Hurricane Dorian passed off the coast in the early morning hours of Sept. 6 as a Category 1 hurricane. It caused little flooding before it moved on, especially compared to the slow-moving Florence, which made landfall in Wilmington on Sept. 14, 2018, and resulted in major flooding. Hurricane Dorian did produce more than a dozen tornadoes, however, that impacted some neighborhoods and businesses in Southeastern North Carolina. And the storm caused significant damage in the Outer Banks. In the Wilmington area, schools and businesses closed ahead of Dorian, and the hurricane with predictions of gale-force winds prompted a temporary shutdown of the airport and port to commercial traffic.

AS OF JULY, A STATE COMMISSION HAS ISSUED

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LICENSES FOR INDUSTRIAL HEMP GROWERS IN NEW HANOVER AND BRUNSWICK COUNTIES


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PRIORITY LIST

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N MARCH 2017, NATALIE ENGLISH TOOK ON THE ROLE OF PRESIDENT AND CEO OF THE WILMINGTON CHAMBER OF COMMERCE.

WHAT ARE SOME OF THE MOST PRESSING ISSUES FOR THE WILMINGTON BUSINESS COMMUNITY?

Below is an excerpt from a recent conversation about the chamber’s initiatives and issues impacting the business community. To read more, go to wilmingtonbizmagazine.com. IN WHAT MAIN AREAS HAS THE CHAMBER MOVED AHEAD ON IN THE PAST COUPLE OF YEARS?

“We’ve implemented some new programming and are attracting new audiences to the work and activity of the chamber. We started the African American Business Council and are very excited about the work that group is doing to focus on growth of African Americanowned businesses. As a result of the impact Hurricane Florence had on the region, we have created a Business Emergency Operations Center. I’m pleased that no businesses needed it when Hurricane Dorian brushed our coast … The chamber is in the process of creating initiatives to directly affect talent and workforce challenges in our region by working directly with employers to define hard-to-fill positions then work with education institutions and others to develop a pipeline for the future. We are also creating a regional advocacy group on transportation infrastructure needs. The chamber has grown in revenue and membership for each of the last couple of years.”

BY VICKY JANOWSKI

NATALIE ENGLISH PRESIDENT & CEO

Wilmington Chamber of Commerce

HAS THE CHOOSE CAPE FEAR CAMPAIGN LIVED UP TO WHAT YOU ENVISIONED IT COULD DO?

“To be fair, the Choose Cape Fear campaign was actually a vision of the chamber leadership before I even arrived. I think it certainly lived up to the part of the vision to have a brand for the week of the Wells Fargo Championship. The article that appeared in Site Selection magazine that summer would support my assertion. I will say that it has yet to live up to what it could be. This region needs to work together to market itself as a great place to do business. We have agencies that respond when businesses are interested in expanded or relocating, though there is opportunity in proactively telling the world about this region. And I believe an agreed-upon campaign is the way to go. I personally like the ring of ‘Choose Cape Fear,’ however, if there is a better, regionally appealing campaign, I would support that as well.”

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“I believe the most pressing issue today is to address our transportation infrastructure. With the challenges faced by our NCDOT, we must develop a collective regional voice to advocate for investments in infrastructure in our region … We must work together to support the construction of an additional bridge across the Cape Fear River, complete the Hampstead Bypass and continue the improvements to U.S. 74 just to name a few. Additionally, we must partner with governmental leadership across the region to expedite processes for developing property. We must protect the environment while not crippling landowners. We already have a significant affordable housing challenge in the region, and we don’t have enough commercial space for businesses already considering our region. Both of those issues will be exacerbated by regulatory processes and limitations … We must support our education and health care institutions as they work to accommodate the growth in our region and as technology innovations present themselves. In some cases, that support will include additional funding. In some cases, it may be policies to account for technology improvements. Finally, we must continue the work to make this an inclusive place to live and work. As the region experiences exponential growth, we will be joined by people who aren’t from here and who look and think differently. Change can be good, hard yes, but also good.”

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CRAFTING A SCENE FROM BREWERIES TO BOTTLE SHOPS, WILMINGTON-AREA BEER IS A BIG DEAL

B Y K Y L E H A N L I N & C E C E N U N N | P H O T O S B Y T. J . D R E C H S E L

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RESTAURANT RO U N DU P


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ROBUST CRAFT BREWING COMMUNITY NOW EXISTS IN THE WILMINGTON AREA WHERE ONCE THERE WAS ONLY ONE BREWERY, FRONT STREET BREWERY, WHICH OPENED IN 1995.

These days, the local region boasts nearly 20 breweries. “To go from very little beer culture here in Wilmington to what we have now, it’s pretty unreal,” said Michelle Savard, who owns Wilmington Brewing Co. with her husband, John. “Our experience has been unreal too. It’s just been, ‘Make more beer; make more beer.’ It’s a pinch-yourself kind of thing.” The Savards started their brewery five years ago and are currently in the process of expanding it, with plans to add an events space. “At first you’re a little afraid that it’s not going to work, but the community was really open to it, and we’re very grateful,” Michelle Savard said of their brewery. “There are a lot of loyal people that come by all of the time.” Subsequent craft beer businesses have also noted the success. “The local beer scene here is tremendous,” says Keith Sincavage, general manager of Wrightsville Beach Brewery. “There is a large number of good breweries around here, and everybody has their own specialty, so you go to different places and get different experiences. Part of the reason I moved here (from Wilmington, Delaware) was because the beer scene was so strong.” In 2016, SmartAsset, an online financial data company, ranked the Port City seventh among America’s top cities for beer drinkers, taking into account factors such as breweries per capita and average price per pint.

JOBS FLOW FORTH

The expansion of the local beer scene has brought direct jobs in breweries and brewpubs, and seen growth in closely-related jobs and businesses such as taprooms, bottle shops and beer-making supply vendors. It has brought about changes, even disruption, in the distribution sector, requiring distributors to make

available a wider variety of products to ever more-specialized outlets. “If you look at the tap list of your local restaurants, you see that most of those folks will carry the local breweries on their tap lists,” said Stephen Henson, owner of Wilmington bottle shop The Brewer’s Kettle. “For example, an out-oftown brewery like Stone or Ballast Point would have had tap presence in the past. What I’m seeing now is that they’re not getting as much of that presence because our own breweries have taken over that market.” Flying Machine Brewing Co., which opened in 2018, has been growing its distribution network beyond the Port City. “We started off just wholesaling in Wilmington and the surrounding region,” said David Sweigart, one of the owners and founders of Flying Machine. “Now we have regular delivery schedules to Raleigh. We’ve gotten our beer to Charlotte and Asheville, for both events as well as normal wholesale operations.” More growth was on the way in early September for Flying Machine. “We have some other territories that we should be in within the next let’s say 30 to 60 days,” Sweigart said, “so that’s keeping us super busy.”

FROM RALEIGH, WITH LOVE

The state’s capital city contributes its fair share to help up The Old North State’s beer street cred. But Raleigh’s greatest contribution to Wilmington’s and North Carolina’s craft beer boom hasn’t derived from a copper tank, but rather brewed on Jones Street by the state’s General Assembly. In 2005, the state legislature passed House Bill 392, which increased the allowed ABV (alcohol by volume) for beer from a puritanical 6%, to 15%. By comparison, Budweiser’s ABV clocks in around 5%. The higher accepted level allowed craft and specialty beer makers to make

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RESTAURANT ROUNDUP

what had been mainly a garage hobby in 20-gallon pots for some, into a powder keg of an industry. Lawmakers doubled down on the ABV decision in ensuing years, passing laws that allowed beer and wine producers to hold on-premises tastings and sell their own product, and relaxed distribution laws. “When they changed the relativeness of ABV, and said, ‘OK, you can serve on-premise,’ that opened up a lot of opportunity,” said Henson. “Folks came in and started opening up breweries because the town became friendly, environmentally policy wise. When they changed those laws as far as on-premise and sales of higher ABVs, that changed everything.”

A HOPPING MARKET

According to the Brewers Association, a not-for-profit trade association for brewers, craft beer sales in 2018 accounted for more than 24% of the $114.2 billion U.S. beer market. The association also reported that, in 2017, the craft beer industry contributed $76.2 billion to the U.S. economy and accounted for more than 500,000 jobs, with 135,000 of those directly at breweries and brewpubs. “Anytime you have a policy change or a legislative augmentation in what’s allowed, you’re going to have the private sector come in there and fill those voids,” said Henson. “That conjunction of local policy change and private investment over the course of the last six or seven years has really created that build up.” Brewery owners hope that build up continues. “Everybody asks us how many is too many,” Michelle Savard said. “I don’t know that there’s too many. I guess we’re in a good spot now where most of the different areas in the city are covered, and people are reverting back to a neighborhood pub, which is really nice. Everybody should be able to walk to a brewery, in my opinion. That would be amazing, to have one in everybody’s corner of the city.” She said she doesn’t know whether the beer bubble, if it is a bubble, will FA L L 2019

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burst locally or nationwide, “but I think we’re at a good number now. I would be surprised if there was another huge boom. I think we are at a nice number for everybody. And each time a brewery has opened, I feel like we all do better and we support each other. It’s a unique industry where it doesn’t feel competitive at all by any means. It’s kind of the more, the merrier.”

FOLLOW THE LEADER

Some beer watchers have called Wilmington, “Asheville East,” a kind of younger sibling to North Carolina’s highly regarded monarch of malt municipalities. Asheville-born brew brands such as Highland, Green Man, Burial and Hi-Wire enjoy regional and statewide notoriety, and well-known craft brands New Belgium Brewing Co. and Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. have opened expansive East Coast operations near Asheville, among other signs of growth. There are some signs of a slight slowing in the industry, at least nationwide. The Brewers Association’s reported figures from 2017 and 2018 showed a decrease in the net number of

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brewery openings for the first time since 2010. Whether Wilmington’s scene will continue its growth, stagnate or begin to contract is still anybody’s guess, but many signs show that local beers have a bright future. “Like anything, I think you will see the cream of the crop, the good ones, continue to improve and continue to rise,” Henson said. “The mediocre may hang out and run for a little longer, and then the ones that haven’t done as well you will start to see them close and sell assets. I think that’s where we are right now.” The good news is, said Sweigart, more competition means more innovation. “You want everybody, consumers, the employers, the employees, to have fun and stay excited,” he said. “And I think that’s what this industry allows us to do. There’s a lot more competition, and there’s a lot more innovation, and it just keeps people on their toes, which is kind of cool.” For more restaurant news, sign up for the Business Journal's weekly Restaurant Roundup email by going to WilmingtonBiz.com.

THE REGION'S BREWERIES 34� North Experiment Station (2018, opening year) Bill’s Brewing Co. (2016) Broomtail Craft Brewery (2014) Edward Teach Brewery (2017) Flying Machine Brewing Co. (2018) Flytrap Brewing (2014) Front Street Brewery (1995) Good Hops Brewing (2014) Ironclad Brewery (2014) Mad Mole Brewing (2018) Makai Brewing Co. (2018) New Anthem Beer Project (2016) Salty Turtle Beer Co. (2017) Skytown Beer Co. (2018) The Sour Barn (2016) Waterline Brewing Co. (2015) Waterman’s Brewing Co. (2017) Wilmington Brewing Co. (2014) Wrightsville Beach Brewery (2017) SOURCE: WilmingtonAleTrail.com, breweries websites and social media

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PROFILE

CONSENSUS

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Airport au t h o r i t y head Donna Girardot helps find common ground BY JENNY CALLISON PHOTO BY MICHAEL CLINE SPENCER

D

onna Girardot has a history of making things happen. Currently, she’s in her second year as chairwoman of the Wilmington International Airport’s authority board and is helping the airport’s expansion project, estimated at about $60 million, to move forward.

In addition to keeping up with the project’s progress – Phase II is well underway, and Phase III will begin in about a year – Girardot stays abreast of the airport’s other concerns. “We’re trying to recruit new airlines and new destinations all the time,” she said. “But, as we grow, the county commissioners are telling us, ‘Don’t lose that Southern hospitality.’” The biggest problem is parking, she said. “We lack both long-term and short-term alternatives,” Girardot said. “We’re working with a consultant, but in the short term we’re going to convert the employee lot into overflow parking, and offer a shuttle service to remote parking for our employees.” The terminal expansion plans call for the construction of two parking towers, but with transportation services such as Uber and Lyft as popular options, Girardot and other airport officials wonder whether that level of investment in airport parking makes sense. Weighing information, pondering consequences and looking at options is all in a day’s work for Girardot, who has been involved in organizations and issues at the heart of the Cape Fear area since moving to Wilmington 22 years ago. Leaving her position as executive director of the Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce in southeastern Virginia after her husband became an assistant vice chancellor at the University of North Carolina Wilmington, Girardot was

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PROFILE

hired as governmental affairs director for what was then the Wilmington Regional Association of Realtors (now Cape Fear Realtors). From there, she was recruited by area homebuilders to head up the Wilmington-Cape Fear Home Builders Association. It was 2002, and the construction industry was busy and profitable. But builders wanted their concerns and needs to be heard by legislators. “The homebuilders said ‘We want to step up our political action,’” Girardot said. So a year later, she helped found Business Alliance for a Sound Economy (BASE), whose sole mission is to advocate for the real estate, development and building industries. In addition to her leadership of WCFHBA, she became CEO of BASE. “My theory is, you don’t go to a (legislative) body and protest. You participate in the drafting of (legislation),” Girardot said. “Both (WCFHBA and BASE) became real power players, involved in issues that impact these industries.” The thing she’s proudest of, and the attribute she says is her most valuable, is her ability to be a consensus builder. “I can be a tough negotiator, but I believe respect is the greatest thing you can give another human being,” she said. “You don’t dictate to people; you listen to them.” Girardot’s philosophy, along with her skills in bringing people of differing views together, enabled her to lead her two construction-related organizations through the real estate downturn. She retired from both in December 2014, recommending Cameron Moore to succeed her at the homebuilders association and Tyler Newman to lead BASE. “I had the privilege of working with both of them for a number of years and recruited both of them,” she said. Fresh into retirement, Girardot was appointed to the New Hanover County Planning Board, where as chairwoman – twice – she has helped that body navigate some difficult terrain. FA L L 2019

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PROFILE

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“I chaired the county’s comprehensive plan development,” she said, adding that her group worked with various competing interests to find common ground on the plan’s provisions. The result: “We came with one document to the commissioners,” she said, “and they adopted it with almost no discussion.” Crafting an acceptable county special use permit was more of a challenge. The process was drawn out, and the wrangling much publicized. Tapped to chair the process, Girardot decided that an abundance of communication was called for. “We had a public hearing even though it was not required,” she said, recalling that several attendees read lengthy statements promoting their positions. After the hearing concluded, she motioned those attendees to the front of the room and invited them to join the process. “I brought the various factions to the table, and they were part of the process from September to December,” she said. “By February of the following year (2017), the SUP was adopted.” With that success behind her, Girardot, now as the planning board’s vice chairwoman, became the board’s representative on the Unified Development Ordinance project team. Girardot says she likes to be thoroughly grounded – literally – on requests that come before the planning board. “When I get the planning package, I review it and drive the site, even walk it. I think about traffic, about ingress and egress,” she said. “Property is the most expensive and biggest asset most people have, so it’s important to make the best decision concerning it.” Girardot makes time in her busy life to nurture emerging leaders, especially women. “I have had four mentees in the WILMA (leadership) program,” she said. “I’ve always been a big advocate for women, in business in particular. It’s given me a great deal of pleasure.”


ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

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AN ISSUE OF RACE COMPARING HQs

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ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT + INNOVATION

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S SPA PARRKK22001199

THE RAMIFICATIONS OF THIS TYPE OF INTENTIONAL DIVIDE DO NOT GO AWAY WITH THE PASSAGE OF TIME OR BECAUSE WE DON’T TALK ABOU T IT. THE AURA, THE FEELING, THE VIBE OF THIS TYPE OF INTENTIONAL DIVIDE STILL LINGERS IN OUR COMMUNITY TODAY. TRACEY NEWKIRK / CHAIRWOMAN / AFRICAN AMERICAN BUSINESS COUNCIL

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BLACK OR

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PHOTOS BY MICHAEL CLINE SPENCER

ot long after educator TikishaMichelle Johnson and her family moved from Dallas to the Wilmington area about six years ago, they decided to attend an outdoor concert at Mayfaire Town Center.

“Wherever we move, I always try to get involved,” said Johnson, whose husband’s company had transferred him here. “So we went to the concert, and I thought, ‘Oh, this is going to be great … We’ll go out here, we’ll sit and we’ll meet some people and see people.’” Then she began to scan the crowd. On the surface, there appeared to be only one other person of any possible African American descent that Johnson could see. “I didn’t see anybody even very tanned,” she said. “And so I was like, ‘This can’t be a thing.’” Johnson, the founder of Wilmington-based nonprofit Education InsideOut, had previously lived not only in Texas but in other states, including Arkansas, Alabama and Illinois. In a community outside

Dallas, she taught at a school that had 33 different cultures represented in one building. “But sitting out there at that event, that just had me baffled,” she recalled. “I’d never experienced anything like that before in my life.” Anecdotal and statistical evidence shows that the Wilmington area is, in many ways, a segregated city and region, where the business community in particular is noticeably lacking in African American professionals. Those who are working to address the issue point to federal statistics: 18% of Wilmington’s population is African American and nearly 77% white, but the poverty rate among African Americans in the Port City is 41%, according to the Census. In North Carolina, the population is about 71% white and 22% African American, and the poverty rate among African Americans statewide is about 25% The local disparity is an issue that both white and black businesspeople, and others, are discussing, studying and working to do something about.

ROOTED IN THE PAST

Wilmington is not the only city in America that struggles with diversity issues. But it is likely the only city where a violent race riot came with a coup d’etat.

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Tracey Newkirk, business owner and chairwoman of the African American Business Council, describes when that coup happened, in 1898, as “The Year of the Intentional Divide.” The episode has also been referred to as the Wilmington Massacre, Race Riot or Insurrection of 1898. “It was the darkest period in Wilmington’s history,” Newkirk (who recently changed her last name from Jackson after getting married) said during a presentation at the Wilmington Convention Center last year. She was speaking to a mainly white audience of more than 400 businesspeople at a Greater Wilmington Business Journal Power Breakfast. “The ramifications of this type of intentional divide do not go away with the passage of time or because we don’t talk about it,” Newkirk said. “The aura, the feeling, the vibe of this type of intentional divide still lingers in our community today.” Wilmington looked completely different more than a century ago in the era after the Civil War, when more than 50% of the Port City was made up of African Americans. “During Reconstruction, African American people were able to thrive because there were social support systems helping to create communities and business opportunities and political empowerment,” explained Kim Cook, a professor of sociology and criminology at the University of North Carolina Wilmington. “And then after Reconstruction ended, there was a violent turn to continuing suppression of African American people, and that hasn’t fully ended.” In November 1898, a group of prominent white residents in Wilmington forcibly erased what had been a thriving black middle class and overthrew a government that included a number of black elected leaders, a traumatic episode that was hushed up in subsequent years. After the 1898 coup, there were no consequences for the perpetrators for the slaying of black residents, the theft of black property and businesses and the burning of the offices of The Daily Record, the city’s black-owned newspaper. FA L L 2019

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“The first time I really even found out about it as a person who grew up here was when I was at UNC Wilmington in a Cape Fear history class,” Wilmington Mayor Bill Saffo said. “So I was 19, 20 years old before I even knew anything about the incident … It was definitely covered up, and it was definitely not talked about. But it definitely had a significant impact on the community that is still felt today.”

TURNING THE TIDE

But Newkirk, owner of consulting firm u-nex-o!, and others in Wilmington, including some white leaders and employers, are working to change that vibe. Newkirk, who grew up in Leland and previously worked as director of talent acquisition and strategy for Verizon Wireless, left and then returned to the Wilmington area for the second time a few years ago. “I felt like there was more of a solid African American leadership in the community (before she left in 2007), and then when I came back, I couldn’t find that leadership,” she said. “I didn’t see a lot of African Americans at networking events. That’s when I met Natalie (English, president and CEO of the Wilmington Chamber of Commerce), and I asked her, I said, ‘Natalie, what can I do to help more African Americans understand the economic impact and the benefit of being part of a chamber of commerce and networking as a whole?’” That was in 2017. Around the same time, Newkirk also had an experience with her youngest son, then 24 years old, that she described as heartbreaking. “He was like, ‘Mom, Wilmington isn’t somewhere I want to live. I don’t like it. I don’t like the vibe.’ And that bothered me,” she said. Newkirk shares that story during her presentations on intentional inclusion. “Unfortunately me and so many blacks like me know what he felt. It was the lingering effect of the vibe

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African American Business Council members Nathaniel Tyre (from left), Kristie Ford, Carolyn Jackson and Karen Beatty attend an AABC meeting in July.

of the intentional divide,” she said in December. “So again I ask you: Help me create a Wilmington where it’s not so difficult to be black and raise a family. Help me help those individuals who find it so difficult to be part of this community, they’re ready to pack up and move to more inclusionary towns.” The local real estate industry is an example of one that seems to be lacking in minority practitioners. “It’s been that way for a while,” said Jonathan Barfield, who is African American, a Realtor and owner of Barfield and Associates Realty. He also serves as chairman of the New Hanover County Board of Commissioners. “I was president of the board (of Cape Fear Realtors) in 2007, and I think we may have had 15 minority members then, 15 out of 2,200. There’s just never been a large percentage of minorities in this field in Wilmington.” But it’s not just in real estate, Barfield said. That’s why some employers are working on the issue. In the spring, Wilmington headquartered-Live Oak Bank started roundtable discussions about recruiting a more diverse workforce, attended by 25 to 30 representatives of the largest employers in the area. Those employers include New Hanover County, the city of Wilmington, New Hanover Regional Medical Center, Wilmington Health,

M A G A Z I N E

PPD, GE, Corning and more. “We said, ‘We’re not the only employer in the lower Cape Fear region looking at this and trying to make the region more inclusive, more attractive, more welcoming to diverse workers,” said Courtney Spencer, the bank’s chief administrative officer, about why the discussions started. The conversations allow employers to share best practices for recruiting African American workers and other minorities. “If you don’t have those conversations, you can’t clearly identify the needs,” Spencer said.

LACK OF CONTRACTS

The Wilmington chamber’s African American Business Council’s vision statement involves “strategically positioning black businesses for inclusion and success,” with one area of emphasis labeled “contracts of all kinds.” At a summer meeting of the AABC, which started last year, the group discussed government contracts and the certification process to receive designations such as that of a Historically Underutilized Business (HUB), the separate Minority Business Enterprise (MBE) or Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE), and other programs.


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“I just struggle philosophically with the whole concept of it because to me it’s just another barrier to keep you out,” Newkirk said to the group, referring to the hoops a business owner has to jump through to receive the designations. Time is a major factor for some black-owned businesses. Entrepreneur and Burgaw native Girard Newkirk, husband of Tracey Newkirk, said that can be especially true in the case of a startup like the one he’s founded, KWHCoin, a firm that merges cryptocurrency and renewable energy to provide affordable energy access. Startups have limited resources, said Girard Newkirk, who recently returned to the Wilmington area from California. “You have to choose: Are you going to go fill out papers all day for a six-month process (to be certified), or are you going to go try direct marketing?” Girard Newkirk said. “I’m an entrepreneur, so I’ve been in this world for a little while, and this is one of the reasons why I had not gotten DBEcertified. It just doesn’t marry up with your balance sheet. … You have to choose between eating or filling out paperwork, literally.” Some public institutions submit reports to the state’s HUB office showing how often HUB-certified businesses get public money. Those include local governments and agencies. The New Hanover County Schools HUB reports show a decline in spending on goods and services with blackowned, HUB-certified businesses in the past three fiscal years, from a high of about $95,600 out of nearly $379 million total to a low last fiscal year of about $21,000 out of $95.6 million. “We do have some minority businesses that do work for us, but they’re not certified through the HUB office, and if they’re not certified, then it doesn’t go on the report,” explained Eddie Anderson, assistant superintendent for operations for New Hanover County Schools. He said the schools are working with Justice NC and Legal Aid to schedule an open house in January that includes a HUB office representative. “Having someone here that could help explain the process and getting them help in getting certified, we think, would be a big plus, and then we’re also going to kind of reach out to maybe banks or lending institutions and insurance agencies,” he said, “because I think that’s a challenge for minority businesses sometimes.” And though she sometimes sees certifications as more hoops to jump through, Tracey Newkirk said at the AABC meeting in July, “Right now, this is the game we gotta play.”

OPPORTUNITY & WEALTH

Dianne Jinwright, a retired Air Force lieutenant colonel who has a doctorate in strategic leadership, is also working to identify ways to help African American business owners through her role as chairwoman of the economic w i l m i n g t o n b i z m a g a z i n e . c o m

WHERE THE MONEY GOES The following are historically underutilized business participation reports submitted by school officials to the state HUB office as it pertains to the use of African American vendors. Some public agencies, including New Hanover County Schools, buy from African American-owned businesses that don’t have HUB designations, and those numbers are not reflected below.

F Y 2 0 1 8 - 1 9 DATA

PURCHASE OF GOODS & SERVICES TOTAL SPENT

SPENT WITH AFRICAN AMERICAN VENDORS

NEW HANOVER COUNTY SCHOOLS

$95,619,340

$21,158

BRUNSWICK COUNTY SCHOOLS

$59,167,637

$0

PENDER COUNTY SCHOOLS

$20,474,850

$0

ROBESON COUNTY SCHOOLS

$134,151,110

$227,527

ONSLOW COUNTY SCHOOLS

$45,718,337

$83,541

ASHEVILLE CITY SCHOOLS

$9,164,973

$61,215

WAKE COUNTY SCHOOLS

$141,389,710

$684,227

CAPE FEAR

$26,874,931

$11,803

BRUNSWICK

$6,350,024

$28,520

JAMES SPRUNT

$5,254,234

$900

FAYETTEVILLE TECHNICAL

$23,520,084

$575

CENTRAL PIEDMONT (CHARLOTTE)

$41,248,442

$504,212

NEW HANOVER COUNTY GOVERNMENT

$79,250,000

$790,000

GENERAL ASSEMBLY

$2,015,728

$0

UNC WILMINGTON

$240,906,983

$ 1,383,635

OFFICE OF THE GOVERNOR

$993,850

$0

STATE BOARD OF ELECTIONS

$5,831,959

$0

EDUCATION SYSTEM

OTHER SCHOOL DISTRICTS

LOCAL COMMUNITY COLLEGES

OTHER COMMUNITY COLLEGES

OTHER PUBLIC SPENDING

(PURCHASE ORDERS IN FY 2017-18)

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development committee of the NAACP’s New Hanover County branch. Jinwright pointed to the fact that wealth can be generational, with the children of business owners having more social mobility and doing better economically. Part of that is land ownership, she said. “A lot of black landowners die without a will,” Jinwright said. “And if they have several heirs, that property is at risk of being lost to investors or contractors who want to commercialize the property and therefore (in some cases) take it out of the hands of black landowners. The families lose many acres because they were not able to come to an agreement about what should happen.” Other states have laws that help protect property legacies, and Jinwright said the NAACP is hoping to move North Carolina lawmakers in that direction. Jinwright’s committee is also working on determining whether there’s a ceiling in Wilmington for African American business owners when it comes to access to capital for expansion. National statistics show there can be a correlation between the race of potential loan recipients and lower lending rates. A report issued by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York in August showed that sole proprietors who are African American or Latino are less likely than white business owners to have funding needs met and more likely to be discouraged from applying for credit, an American Banker article stated.

STARTING OUT

Wilmington-area resident Corey Scott, who is African American, has not tried to apply for a small business loan for the catering company he’s starting, but he has experienced other challenges. Scott, who works full time as a chef at New Hanover Regional Medical Center, where he’s been employed for 12 years, is working on launching On Thyme Catering.


S PA R K 2 0 1 9

“I think the only barrier that I have is actually reaching out to the right people,” Scott said. “When I first started thinking about doing it, I started reaching out to all the wrong people; they were just doing it for fun or as a hobby. Now I’m in the process of talking to a whole bunch of legit people, a whole bunch of different business owners, more higher-ranked people at the hospital. Now my vision is more clear on the business aspect and not just cooking.” Some business owners cautioned him not to consider starting a business in downtown Wilmington, saying, “They don’t want you downtown.” “I guess that’s like the hardest place to own a business if you’re black,” Scott said.

“We’re open for all types of entrepreneurs,” he said. Another issue Scott has come across is finding resources. “People don’t tell us a lot of stuff. I’ve got to go searching, asking a million different people about it. We don’t have a ton of seminars we’re invited to,” he said. “I have to go through somebody else to invite us. You don’t have people coming to the MLK Center putting on seminars or helping people with credit.” Still, Scott’s outlook is positive as he and his wife, Phallin, work on becoming their own bosses. “I know a lot of people that’s trying to start here,” he said. “It seems like it’s getting bigger and bigger, the talent here.”

Corey Scott, a chef with New Hanover Regional Medical Center in Wilmington, and his wife, Phallin, are working on building their own business, On Thyme Catering.

Currently, there are few businesses owned by African Americans in downtown Wilmington. Part of the problem is that many African Americans feel their presence isn’t welcome, Scott said. Ed Wolverton, president and CEO of Wilmington Downtown Inc., said he disagrees with that perception.

WORKING ON CHANGE

Cedric Harrison agrees. Harrison, founder of nonprofit organization Support the Port, came back to Wilmington a second time after working in Washington, D.C., and Atlanta. Before that, just after he graduated from the University of North Carolina

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

at Pembroke, he tried working in Wilmington, hoping to start a career in marketing and entertainment. But the only option he found was a temporary labor agency. “I used to go out there at five o’clock in the morning with people with criminal backgrounds, with drug addictions, and here I am with no drug addiction, no criminal background and just that college degree,” Harrison said. He could find no other opportunity in his chosen field, he said, noting “a lot of those circles are filled with people that don’t look like me,” especially at the hiring level. “I come from an impoverished area of Wilmington, and so that’s where my network heavily existed,” he said. But since he returned, he’s found some success with Support the Port Foundation Inc., a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, which recently received a $25,000 hurricane recovery grant. As part of its mission to “enhance, cultivate and provide a renewed sense of community ownership” to Wilmington residents, Support the Port also aims to boost entrepreneurs, Harrison said. “I think a lot of people already know about the problems that exist for African Americans to be successful,” he said. “My goal is to try to figure out what the solution is like. And I think we’re doing a pretty good job of that.” Joe Finley, co-founder of Wilmington-based CastleBranch and tekMountain, believes change is possible. He’s been hosting community forums in the Port City that highlight and examine some of the issues around inequality, including one in August on the continued influence of the Confederacy. The problem isn’t limited to Wilmington, Finley said, but it does seem more pronounced here. “In every area, white people are succeeding more than black people, and it’s because of systems that keep black people suppressed,” he said. “I don’t know if we can change the whole world, and that’s not my objective … but we can do things to change Wilmington. We truly, truly can.” FA L L 2019

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W

ilmington has its hand to play in the economic development game to attract and retain corporate headquarters. When compared to markets of similar size, one aspect Wilmington has in its deck is quality of life. “I think we outcompete a lot of folks on that,” said Adam Jones, regional economist with the University of North Carolina Wilmington’s Swain Center. Jones is the researcher behind the annual Wilmington Regional Economic Scorecard presented by the Wilmington Chamber of Commerce initiative Cape Fear Future. The report ranks the Wilmington area among peer cities such as Chattanooga, Tennessee; and Savannah, Georgia. Another strength, he said, is Wilmington’s pool of highly-educated professionals and fresh talent coming out the region’s university and colleges. New highway infrastructure and new flights at the Wilmington International Airport also have helped the region’s employers connect to places outside of the city, he said. Wilmington, however, is lacking some in connectivity. The area’s seaside location is not geographically centered like other markets such as Raleigh, he said. That connectivity aspect, as well as limited professional job opportunities for spouses who join their partners in the area and social diversity, are some other weaknesses, Jones said. From an economic development perspective, Wilmington’s headquarters create “national attention for Wilmington” and those companies are “great ambassadors and advocate for us,” said Scott Satterfield, CEO of Wilmington Business Development. Area headquarters also bring employment opportunities and can use a range of services from local vendors and suppliers, he said. Attracting more locally headquartered companies to the region is one of WBD’s goals, Satterfield said. “Absolutely,” he said, “we can and will.”

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COMPARING Here is a look at some of the largest for-profit company headquarters in Wilmington and peer cities mentioned in the Wilmington Regional Economic Scorecard. The list, though not all-inclusive, has been sourced from chambers of commerce and economic development groups depending on the availability of the information. Employment numbers are for the companies’ local markets and not their total workforces.

CHATTANOOGA

MOBILE

MCKEE FOODS CORP. is a family-run

AUSTAL USA, with its U.S.

TENNESSEE

company that makes snacks and is best known for the Little Debbie brand snack cakes. It employs about 3,100 people in the Chattanooga area.

ASTEC INDUSTRIES INC. is a

manufacturer of equipment used for operation in the infrastructure, aggregate, mining and energy industries. It employs more than 1,600 people in the area.

MILLER INDUSTRIES TOWING EQUIPMENT INC. is a manufacturer of

towing and recovery equipment with brands Century, Vulcan, Chevron and Holmes. It employs more than 650 people.

KENCO GROUP is a woman-owned

logistics solutions company that includes distribution, transportation and real estate management. It employees more than 640 people.

TAG MANUFACTURING INC. is a

manufacturer of machinery buckets and attachments, including those for excavators and wheel loaders. It employs more than 330 people.

M A G A Z I N E

Source: Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce, companies

ALABAMA

headquarters in Mobile, is a global defense prime contractor and a designer and manufacturer of defense and commercial ships. It employs about 4,000 people in the Mobile MSA.

CPSI is a health care technology

solutions and services company for community hospitals and other health care systems and post-acute care facilities. It employs about 2,000 people.

OUTOKUMPU, with its U.S.

headquarters in Mobile, is a global stainless steel manufacturer. It employs about 850 people in the Mobile MSA.

G.A. WEST & CO. INC. is a company

that specializes in the construction of heavy industrial projects. It employs about 800 employees.

SSAB AMERICAS, with its U.S.

headquarters in Mobile, is a global company that develops high-strength steel and provides services for the industry. It employs more than 580 people in the Mobile MSA. Source: Mobile Area Chamber of Commerce, companies


home bases

S PA R K 2 0 1 9

BY CHRISTINA HALEY O'NEAL

ROANOKE

SAVANNAH

VIRGINIA TRANSFORMER CORP. is

GULFSTREAM AEROSPACE CORP.,

VIRGINIA

a company that engineers, designs and makes power transformers. It employs about 500 in the Roanoke MSA.

CARTER MACHINERY CO. is a

Caterpillar machinery dealer with headquarters in Salem, Virginia, which is in the Roanoke MSA. It employs about 400 in the area.

LAWRENCE COMPANIES is a

transportation company with services that include moving and storage, freight, warehousing, construction and agricultural equipment. It employs about 350.

TMEIC CORP., with its North

American base in Roanoke, is a manufacturer of industrial motors and drives. It employs about 260.

HOWELL’S MOTOR FREIGHT INC.

is a freight carrier that provides refrigerated, dry and frozen truckload and distribution services mainly for the food and grocery wholesale and retail industry and suppliers. It employs nearly 230 people. Source: Roanoke Regional Partnership, D&B Hoovers, companies

GEORGIA

a wholly owned subsidiary of General Dynamics, designs, develops, manufactures, markets and services business jet aircraft. It employs 12,000 people in Chatham County where Savannah is located.

PARKER’S is a convenience store company with 59 stores across Georgia and South Carolina. It employs about 870 people in Chatham County.

JCB NORTH AMERICA is a

manufacturer of construction, agricultural and defense equipment including tractors, excavators and forklifts. The UK company holds its North American headquarters in Savannah. It employs 600 people in Chatham County.

BRASSELER USA is a company

providing instrumentation to health care professionals for use in restorative dentistry, endodontics, oral surgery and oral hygiene. It employs about 400 people in the area.

TMX FINANCE FAMILY OF COMPANIES is a business that

provides consumer credit products with over 1,200 stores in 17 states. It employs more than 300 people. Source: Savannah Economic Development Authority, companies

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

WILMINGTON NORTH CAROLINA PHARMACEUTICAL PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT LLC (PPD), is a global

contract research organization providing comprehensive, integrated drug development, laboratory and lifecycle management services. It opened as a one-person consulting firm in 1985 and now has offices around the world. PPD employs more than 1,500 people locally.

LIVE OAK BANK, a subsidiary of Live

Oak Bancshares, is a digital-driven FDIC-insured bank that is the largest SBA lender in the U.S. It has about 525 local employees.

NCINO is a company that provides

cloud-based operating solutions for the financial industry. It has 550-600 in the area.

GE HITACHI NUCLEAR ENERGY is a

global provider of advanced nuclear reactors, fuel and services. GE Hitachi is a joint venture between General Electric and Hitachi with headquarters in Wilmington. The company does not release individual employment numbers but reports total employment of about 2,800 people at the campus it shares with GE Aviation on Castle Hayne Road.

CASTLEBRANCH CORP. is a background screening and compliance firm and home to the business incubator tekMountain. It employs about 370 people.

Source: Individual companies

FA L L 2019

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THE PORT OF WILMINGTON COULD SOON SAIL INTO NEW TERRITORY AS IT LOOKS TO MAKE BIG CHANGES. 34

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BY CHRISTINA HALEY O'NEAL P H O T O S B Y T. J . D R E C H S E L & C H R I S B R E H M E R

PORT

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

FA L L 2019

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orth Carolina’s ports are making hefty infrastructure improvements, and now they’re looking for a return on those investments.

“We’re having the largest ships that are calling on the East Coast … coming to this port. We’ve invested in new cranes. We are investing in other infrastructure that we’re able to do the same type of capabilities that these larger ports around us have – plus add on this basis of efficiency and keeping things moving,” N.C. Ports Executive Director Paul Cozza said. “One of the things that we have as a challenge – as we go around the state, as we go around the world – is advertising and marketing what our capabilities are. “Four years ago, five years ago, this didn’t exist here,” Cozza said of the growing capabilities that have come with N.C. Ports’ capital investments. But even with the more recent expansions, officials say the Port of Wilmington has not yet reached its full potential. For Cozza, that presents opportunities. The Port of Wilmington is situated on more than 280 acres south of downtown and is 26 miles up the Cape Fear River from open ocean. Its river channel depth is 42 feet, which allows some of the larger ships cruising to ports along the coast to reach the terminal. It supports cargo through shipping containers, bulk (unpackaged items), breakbulk (packaged items) and wheeled cargo. The Port of Morehead City is smaller and does not handle containers but supports all other cargo. Like many ports dotted along the East Coast, Wilmington’s facility has been implementing significant changes to keep competitive in the global market. In the past two years, N.C. Ports

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purchased and installed three new neo-Panamax cranes at the Wilmington port as part of its $221 million capital improvement plan. Other key investments in that plan are still to come, including another potential widening of the port’s turning basin. As of August, the port, which has had to address environmental impacts from the proposed dredging, was still waiting on federal approvals for the second phase of its turning basin project. The first phase was completed in 2016. Port officials hope to gain approval to begin construction on the $21 million project this year, with a timeline to be complete in early 2020. The project would involve widening the Cape Fear River just north of the port to over 1,500 feet so that larger cargo ships could turn around and head back to sea. Officials said the turning basin’s expansion is the final piece for the port to accommodate larger ships with the capacity to hold 14,000 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs), an industry measurement for containers. Should the turning basin expansion gain the necessary approval and be complete, it, along with the new cranes and berth improvements, would give the Port of Wilmington the capability to handle two, 14,000 TEU vessels at the same time. “We’re getting there. We want to really be seen as a catalyst for economic development in the state,” Cozza said. “I think we’re seen as a partner. I think we’re seen as definitely a contributor. But I’d like it that the port is seen in the entire state as a real catalyst for economic development, and that is one of our longer-term goals.” The capital improvements have happened since Cozza was named the ports’ executive director in 2014. His extensive background in the maritime industry includes his previous role as president of marine logistics company The CSL Group as well as other executive roles with The Maersk Group, a container shipping line. The role with N.C. Ports is the first public port role for Cozza, who also

M A G A Z I N E

served in the military. For North Carolina, the business coming through the Port of Wilmington and Port of Morehead City contributes $15.4 billion annually to the state’s economy, with $12.9 billion attributed to goods moving through Wilmington’s terminal, according to a recent economic report done by N.C. State University transportation researchers and commissioned by N.C. Ports. The deep-water ports of Wilmington and Morehead City, plus the Charlotte Inland Port, are owned and operated by the N.C. Ports Authority, otherwise known as N.C. Ports. N.C. Ports funds its operations through its own revenue stream, though it has received state funding for the capital plan projects. Its operating revenue comes to about $51 million annually, and it employs more than 200 people.


S PA R K 2 0 1 9 N.C. Ports Executive Director Paul Cozza stands near the Port of Wilmington’s loading dock, where three new cranes have been installed in recent years to handle larger ships.

THE SEASCAPE

Business at the Port of Wilmington took a hit from Hurricane Florence last September, which port officials attribute to a 5% dip in container traffic in the 2018-19 fiscal year. During that fiscal year, which ended June 30, the Port of Wilmington saw more than 306,000 TEUs. The year prior, however, was a record for the facility in terms of container volume, with more than 322,000 TEUs handled at the port. Before then, like at most U.S. ports, the collapse of major international shipping company Hanjin impacted the Port of Wilmington, which saw a sizable traffic drop off during the 2017 fiscal year before rebounding the next year by 38.6%. With the ups and downs in recent years, traffic at the port overall has grown 2.9% between fiscal years 2015 and 2019. When looking at neighboring

ports, Wilmington’s activity – while growing – is dwarfed when it comes to overall traffic. Charleston reported annual container volume during the past fiscal year at about 2.4 million TEUs, while Savannah saw 4.5 million TEUs. Both have experienced record levels for their facilities in recent years. During the 2018-19 fiscal year, Savannah’s containers grew by 7.3% and Charleston’s by 8.8%. The Port of Virginia, which includes four general cargo facilities at Norfolk, Portsmouth, Newport News and Front Royal, Virginia, reported an overall record of 2.9 million TEUs in FY 2018-19, an increase of 4% from the previous year. And while N.C. Ports is investing, so are its competitors. Each is making changes to support the larger vessels traveling the Atlantic Coast, much of it sparked by the mid2016 expansion of the Panama Canal,

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

where cargo ships ranging upward of 14,000 TEUs come through to get to the East Coast. But these ships aren’t nearly the largest. Ultra-large container ships reaching more than 20,000 TEUs are sailing around Asia, some able to reach Europe through Egypt’s Suez Canal. Those ships have yet to reach the East Coast where the shipping channels are too shallow. The Virginia Port Authority, however, aims to capture some of that business with a project to deepen its Norfolk Harbor shipping channels. Now in design, the projected channel depth at 55 feet deep would be the deepest channel on the East Coast. On top of the harbor project, it’s also expanding infrastructure at other terminals, among other investments. Port agencies in South Carolina and Georgia are also going deeper. The Port of Charleston plans to go to a channel depth of 52 feet, and the Port of Savannah’s plans are to go down to 47 feet. Georgia officials this month also announced plans to double the Port of Savannah’s capacity to 11 million TEUs a year and build a new container port near its existing facility. To stay competitive with these changes N.C. Ports officials have worked up the first draft of a feasibility study to potentially deepen the Wilmington Harbor again, this time from its current depth of 42 feet to 47. But even with the ever-growing capabilities of its neighbors, the Port of Wilmington does well to support a secondary, niche market, said Asaf Ashar, an independent consultant with more than 40 years of experience in the industry and research professor emeritus with the National Ports and Waterways Institute. “Wilmington can survive as they do now as a niche port. They will not get the big flood of Asian imports,” Ashar said. “There is room for these type of ports especially because they are export-oriented. They support a lot of economic activities behind manufacturing, agriculture and so on.” FA L L 2019

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$221.2 MILLION CAPITAL IMPROVEMENT PLAN PROJECTS

$10M $20M $30M $40M $50M $60M $70M

$61.6M Berth 7 & 8 renovations $37.6M New neo-panamax cranes $28.2M Turning basin – phase I $20M Truck gate complex* $21M Turning basin – phase II* $14.2M Refrigerated container yard* $38.6M Other projects *ESTIMATED COSTS FOR FUTURE PROJECTS

PORT VOLUMES WILMINGTON’S VOLUMES IN TEUs DURING FISCAL YEARS

*YEAR OF HANJIN SHIPPING CO.’S BANKRUPTCY

322,391

306,356

2018-19

2017-18

232,624*

2016-17

284,735

2015-16

2014-15

297,591

GOODS MOVING

TOP IMPORTS & EXPORTS, IN TONS*

IMPORTS

* FIGURES FROM FY 2016-17

CHEMICALS

621,300

FERTILIZERS

221,200

AGRICULTURAL

217,900

EQUIPMENT & MACHINERY

155,600

FOREST PRODUCTS

151,300

WOOD PELLETS

941,200

FOREST PRODUCTS

478,700

WOOD CHIPS

293,800

GENERAL MERCHANDISE

248,500

FOOD

212,500

EXPORTS

SOURCE: N.C. PORTS 2018 ECONOMIC IMPACT STUDY, N.C. PORTS

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To justify the cost of dredging Wilmington’s access channel to 47 feet or, perhaps, expanding to the port’s available acreage in Southport, would be difficult given the port’s present market position, he said. “It is not realistic to expect Wilmington to jump league and be in the same league with Norfolk, Savannah and New York, even with Southport and a deeper channel. There is no shortage of facilities and expansion plans in the major U.S. East Coast ports, while the market – especially the major east-west trades (such as China) on which big ships are deployed – is slowing,” Ashar said. N.C. Ports’ 600-acre property near Southport was purchased by the authority back in the mid2000s for about $30 million. The authority announced plans to build an international terminal there but later dropped the project. Though it still owns the property, the authority has no near-future plans for the Southport land, Cozza said. N.C. Ports also owns about 180 acres outside the Wilmington terminal for future business growth, including about 90 acres off Raleigh Street and 90 acres off South Front Street just north of its existing terminal. Aside from port land, other industrial sites in Southeastern North Carolina are being pushed as part of a local economic development model focused on reeling in business that could use the port. The model is based on what has been done at some neighboring ports, said Steve Yost, president of North Carolina’s Southeast, an economic development agency serving an 18-county region, including the Wilmington area. This “at-port model” implemented by local economic developers has helped land companies such as BlueArrow Warehousing & Logistics LLC and Fine Fixtures, which located to Pender County last year. It’s a marketing focus for local and regional economic developers trying to attract companies that need to be close to the port.

M A G A Z I N E

“We have certainly plugged that (model) fully into our marketing recruitment. And on an ongoing basis about 40% to 50% of the prospective companies that we talk to have some sort of port requirement,” Yost said. Wilmington Business Development, which serves economic development efforts for Wilmington, New Hanover and Pender counties, is also pushing the needle on this business recruitment model. “While our port is not as large or active as those of Norfolk, Savannah and Charleston, we are cost-competitive,” WBD CEO Scott Satterfield said. “The atport distribution model relies on ready real estate and strong surface transportation links. Those improvements have also been a game changer for us.”

VYING FOR MARKETS

While size is a part of the competitive landscape, time also is a major consideration for shippers. The Port of Wilmington’s efficiencies make it stand out among the East Coast and Gulf ports, Cozza said. “There are congestion issues at a lot of our ports around the U.S., in the Northeast, in parts of the West Coast and other areas. It’s something that we play up on all the time,” he said. “Our service levels and the way that we’re able to keep speed, continuity and fluidity in all of our day-today operations, that keeps us very competitive.” N.C. Ports leaders aim to compete for business both within the Southeast region and the West Coast, to capture the shift of cargo moving to East Coast ports, Cozza said. “Our mantra is this: We have to be better; we have to be faster; we have to be of less expense than any of the ports around us for us to continue to be able to attract business. And it’s showing, and it’s a model that’s working too,” Cozza said. Efficiencies highlighted at the Port of Wilmington include the time it takes to for vessels to move through the


docks and for trucks to move in and out port gates, as well as overall customer service support, said Brian Clark, N.C. Ports’ COO and deputy executive director. The port has one of the highest crane productivity rates on the East Coast, with more than 40 container moves per hour, he said. It also boasts 19 minutes for a truck to move in and out of the facility. Those efficiencies could bring the port to a more competitive level, considering the time it takes for vessels to reach the port upriver. Its larger, neighboring ports don’t have the same level of travel distance to reach the docks. “As we are successful in securing new business, we need to make sure we continue to deliver those same service levels,” Clark said. And that ability to attract business could continue as the port sets itself up for more cargo flow. N.C. Ports’ capital improvement plan is a multiyear project, Clark said. The port now has its new cranes, bringing the total to nine at the port, and its berth construction is anticipated to be done by the end of the year, Clark said. Duke Energy is also working with the port to raise power lines that cross over the Cape Fear River from 171 feet to 212 feet this year to improve the clearance for incoming ships.

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And the port has made headway in its container yard construction. “I think the most important project right now is the development of a new reefer (refrigerated) container handling yard,” Clark said. “It’s about a $15 million investment and allows us to essentially triple our current capacity for handling refrigerated cargo.” The refrigerated container yard will grow from 300 electrical outlets and spots for containers to about 1,000 when the project is completed, which is slated for the beginning of next year, Clark said. Construction on the Port of Wilmington’s new terminal gate area also will begin next year, and at the

same time, it’s investing to upgrade the port’s terminal operating system. “After that we’ll be slowly repaving certain parts of the yard, redeveloping smaller footprints within the facility as capacity allows. Ultimately, our goal is to double the capacity of the facility, but it will be done in line with opportunities as they present themselves,” Clark said. The port wants to grow capacity from about 600,000 TEUs on an annual basis to ultimately 1.2 million TEUs. That will happen within the port’s current 284-acre footprint. The port expects all terminal upgrades to be completed by 2023, Clark said.

PORTS OF CALL: A GLANCE AT HOW THE PORT OF WILMINGTON AND SOME OF ITS SOUTHEAST COMPETITORS ARE CHANGING PORT AGENCY

N.C. PORTS

S.C. PORTS

Port of Wilmington & Morehead City, and Charlotte (inland terminal)

MAJOR PROJECTS

• $221M in capital improvements including a turning basin & container terminal expansion in Wilmington

PROPOSED HARBOR DEEPENING

47 feet Project price tag: $750M

52 feet Project price tag: $558M

47 feet Project price tag: $973M

55 feet Project price tag: $350M

FY 2018-19 VOL (TEUs)

306K

2.4M

4.5M

2.9M

ANNUAL CHANGE

-5%

8.8%

7.3%

4%

• North Charleston: New terminal • Wando Terminal: Infrastructure upgrades

Ports of Savannah & Brunswick, and three inland terminals

PORT OF VIRGINIA

FACILITIES

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Ports of Charleston & Georgetown and two inland terminals

GEORGIA PORTS

• Building new container port, double TEU capacity • Growing crane fleet to 42 by 2028

Virginia International Terminal (runs four and leases two facilities) • Norfolk terminal: modernization & expansion • Construction of Craney Island Marine Terminal

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Chuck McCarthy, president and CEO of the Port of Wilmington Cold Storage, stands among a shipment at the facility, which handled nearly 1,100 containers last year.

GROWING BUSINESS

On top of expanding its ability to handle more cargo, the Port of Wilmington has opened up for more refrigerated products after it was approved for both phases of a USDA program that allows for more produce imports. The port also leases just over 4 acres to the 101,000-square-foot, privately owned Port of Wilmington Cold Storage facility. An on-site cold storage facility brings down the costs of logistics and takes away some of the dangers of trucking product on the road, said Chuck McCarthy, president and CEO of the facility. McCarthy is a partner in the business along with real estate developer Chuck Schoninger, who spearheaded its development. The facility opened just weeks before the collapse of Hanjin Shipping Co. in 2016, but has been steadily gaining business each year, McCarthy said. The year after Hanjin went bankrupt, the cold storage facility handled 304 containers in its first full year. That increased to nearly 1,100 containers in 2018. And through May, the facility handled 659 containers,

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McCarthy said, adding that he expects this year’s volume to surpass 2018 levels. Big business at the cold storage facility comes from pork and poultry producers, as well as others in agriculture. That market is among some of the niche exports at the Port of Wilmington, said Hans Bean, senior vice president of business development at N.C. Ports. The port also serves niche imports in the textile and apparel, and furniture industries. The port has added to the roster of shipping companies that call on the facility and its scheduling over the years. As of August, the Port of Wilmington was serviced by 10 shipping companies touching six cities in Asia, two in Europe and up to 16 throughout Central America and the Caribbean. “I think this market can support a tremendous amount of growth … I think what the port can do will become more visible over time as it becomes more connected in the global market, on the landside and intermodally,” Bean said. Client input sparked the port’s recent add of a next-day service through the Queen City Express, which is operated by CSX. The intermodal M A G A Z I N E

rail service connecting Wilmington and Charlotte was activated in 2017 and was the first such service connected to the Port of Wilmington in 30 years. The Carolina Connector, another intermodal transportation facility that began construction in Edgecombe County this year, could be brought onto the playing field in the future. Port officials are waiting to see what capabilities that might bring. “In some ways it’s a challenge, because historically, we’re playing catch up on our connectivity,” Bean said. “But I think also we’re very close to the customers that are using Wilmington.” The more the Port of Wilmington can service the entire portfolio of needs for its clients, the more success the port will have in the future, he said. “As we’re able to bring new freight in, we’re able to service the customer better,” Cozza said. “It’s not just to push volume through for the sake of pushing volume through. It’s pushing the volume through so that we’re helping an importer or exporter, especially around the state, be able to run their business more efficiently … Because at the end of the day, if we’re doing our things right, we’re improving our economic contribution numbers.”


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ig projects have the potential to bolster the area’s ability to attract industry and jobs. From new real estate developments to infrastructure investments, each could shape the area’s landscape. The following is an update to some of the larger projects in the works.

BY CHRISTINA HALEY O'NEAL

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PREP FOR FLIGHT

Developments are progressing, but one significant proposal has come to a halt for the time being. The N.C. Department of Transportation called off studies on the Cape Fear Crossing this summer due to issues with funding the proposed project. It was long discussed by local officials and transportation leaders as one solution to traffic congestion, especially as more people move to the region, by creating another bridge route across the Cape Fear River between Brunswick and New Hanover counties. But NCDOT officials crossed the potential roadwork and bridge construction, estimated at roughly $1.1 billion, off the area’s future transportation priority list. Work on another bridge continues on U.S. 421 near the New Hanover and Pender county line, where a temporary structure was put in place after part of the road washed away during Hurricane Florence. One bridge in the two-bridge project could be completed and open to traffic this month. The second bridge is slated for completion next spring. And NCDOT continues work on the Military Cutoff Road project, which includes extending Military Cutoff Road from Market Street to the Wilmington Bypass. It’s slated for completion in 2023.

The Wilmington International Airport is making headway on its terminal expansion and renovation project. The three-phase project is currently in its second phase, which will add 15,000 square feet to the building, including space for a potential fourth carrier. The second phase is on schedule, Granseur Dick, ILM’s planning and development director, said in late August. “When complete next summer, passengers will experience an expanded ticket lobby and updated finishes. Additionally, a new bag screening system will process checked bags more efficiently to help keep departures on schedule,” Dick said. The third phase of the project includes a new concourse, expanded TSA checkpoint, new gate seating and new restaurant and retail space. As of press time, contracts had not yet been awarded for the final phase, which got a boost from a $20 million loan approved by New Hanover County commissioners last month. Airport officials estimate $60 million for the total project, which they said might include a combination of federal, state and local sources.

M A G A Z I N E


TRENDS

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LAYING DOWN THE LINES

GOING OFF THE RAIL

BUILDING UP

The Cape Fear Public Utility Authority is nearly complete with construction on its $12.8 million water and sewer project along U.S. 421 in New Hanover County. CFPUA officials have said the project would add needed water and sewer capacity in the area. It has also been eyed by county officials and economic developers as a means to attract more development along the industrial corridor, which already includes companies such as Fortron Industries and South Atlantic Services Inc. There are nearly 1,000 acres of developable land available for future industries in the project area, according to CFPUA documents. As of late August, workers had installed about 65,800 feet of pipeline out of the more than 71,500 needed to complete the lines, CFPUA officials said. That includes about 36,000 feet of sewer and nearly 30,000 feet of water lines. “(The) project remains within budget, and no substantial changes in construction costs have occurred,” a CFPUA spokesman said in August. The CFPUA estimates the work will be done in November.

The Wilmington Rail Realignment proposal moved ahead this summer with a $2 million grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Railroad Administration (FRA). The realignment plan is to move freight railroad lines from within the city to a new rail bypass and bridge across the Cape Fear River. It could potentially eliminate about 32 railroad crossings throughout the city and includes possibly repurposing existing rail for a trolley line. The N.C. Department of Transportation also has $500,000 earmarked for the proposed rail plan, said Laura Padgett, the project’s coordinator. The funds are for preliminary engineering and a federal environmental review, she said, adding that a request for proposals is expected to go out around the end of this year for that work. Padgett is working alongside Aubrey Parsley, the city of Wilmington’s director of rail realignment, who was hired for the newly created city position this year. “It really will transform the city because it will improve traffic congestion and access and affordable housing all at once. It will also potentially transform Southeastern North Carolina in terms of trade and shipping opportunities,” Padgett said.

Some mixed-use projects are gaining traction in Wilmington with several high-value developments slated to come together in the coming years. CenterPoint, a major mixed-use project, could bring retail, office space and a residential center to an area near the corner of Military Cutoff and Eastwood roads. The development firm for the $250 million project bought 23 acres in the area this year with plans to begin site work in 2020. A new building downtown is adding to Wilmington’s skyline. River Place, a 13-story mixed-use project at 200 N. Water St., is slated for completion next year. The building also includes parking, restaurant and retail space. And demolition will take place at the end of the year at a Military Cutoff Road property to make way for another mixed-use development. Estimated at more than $200 million, The Avenue is set to be anchored by a Westin hotel and include retail, residential and office space. The development is planned for 44 acres in the Landfall area.

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CUCALORUS

WIDENS ITS LENS

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as the cucalorus film festival m at u r e s the connect business conference continues to come into its own

n an era when few people sought out downtown Wilmington as a source of entertainment, a germinal one-night festival, held in a Water Street restaurant in 1994, drew an overflow crowd to its screening of 16 short films. This year, Cucalorus celebrates its 25th anniversary. It has blossomed from what the filmmaker-founders termed “An Evening of Celluloid Art, a film festival for open minds” into a self-described “international celebration of filmmaking, performance and technology.” The Evening of Celluloid Art was deliberately noncompetitive, and the festival has remained so. In its 12th year, the festival moved from the spring of the year to early November, and Thalian Hall became its primary venue.

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PHOTO C/O CUCALORUS

Jessica Ward loads a 35 mm feature film during the 2003 Cucalorus Film Festival.

BY JENNY CALLISON

Cucalorus programs from 1997, the festival's fourth year, and from 2018

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endeavor. You could also say, as Diane Durance does, that this mission widens the lens. Cucalorus Connect wants to look at innovation and technology in fields that relate to quality of life in the local community, said Durance, director of UNCW’s CIE, which remains an essential partner in the business conference. “Interest has grown in having an influential, impactful conference in Wilmington. We’re looking at bigger concepts: What is the future of … ?” Durance said, trailing off. “We’re thinking about energy and advanced manufacturing that may be in our future and areas where the university is strong. CastleBranch and tekMountain have been involved from the beginning.” Growth is always on the minds of Cucalorus staffers. A perpetual item on Brawley’s desk is a list of 15 ways in which an organization can grow. The list is wrinkled and scribbled on, and he consults it often. “Every year we look to expand five of these 15 numbers,” said Brawley, who leads the festival team and calls himself Cucalorus’ chief instigating officer. “We think Cucalorus is accessible to many people, and we want to continue to grow. In five years I would like to see Cucalorus have an endowment, giving us more support to weather storms. We’ve had 7-9% annual growth in attendance, number of programs and revenue,” he said. “But if you try to push all (15 aspects) or grow too fast, you lose

PHOTOS C/O CUCALORUS

Compare Cucalorus’ start with its current size and scope: Last year, the festival showed 185 films, staged dance, comedy and music events, and hosted the fourth iteration of Cucalorus Connect, a business innovation and technology conference. Those events took place in 31 venues around town. Gross revenues totaled about $475,000. Cucalorus Connect, launched in 2015, was a spinoff of sorts from Coastal Connect, a conference hosted in 2014 by University of North Carolina Wilmington’s Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship. In its first year, Cucalorus Connect lasted five days and focused primarily on startup ventures. It debuted a Rocket Pitch session in which owners of young ventures gave a short spiel on their concept. It also introduced 10x10, in which 10 filmmakers were each paired with a startup. Each filmmakerentrepreneur team was given a very short time in which to create a promotional video for the company. The 10x10 feature and Rocket Pitch remain in the roster this year to underscore Cucalorus’ continued support of startup ventures. Beyond that, the conference focus is becoming wider or more narrow, depending on one’s perspective. “We have a much better idea of what we’re doing,” said Dan Brawley, the festival’s head, explaining that Cucalorus Connect’s mission is honing in on issues of justice and humanity in a world of technology and entrepreneurial

Top row, from left: Cucalorus founders Twinkle Doon; Frank Capra Jr. at Water Street Restaurant circa 1997; the late Sandy Johnston, who was a well-known local filmmaker; 1999 screening at the former Skylight venue; emcee Matt Malloy in the filmmakers lounge at the Community Arts Center in 2001; 35 mm film entries; cinematographer Jack Cardiff in 1997; opening night screening of Ross McElwee's Bright Leaves at Thalian Hall in 2004

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your values.” And what are the festival’s values? One is equity, as Cucalorus strives to have half of the films it screens be works directed by women and to provide opportunities to filmmakers of color. Brawley says that the commitment to equity that distinguished the original Evening of Celluloid Art still drives all aspects of the festival, including the business conference. “Our passion remains connected to those early days, and I’m very happy to say that Cucalorus still champions unknown artists and focuses our resources on supporting women, artists of color, gay and trans artists, and other visionary humans who come to Cucalorus to share their stories,” Brawley said in a recent email to the festival’s supporters. Another value is horizontal leadership. “This can be frustrating,” Brawley admitted. “In a community, especially one that is democratic and horizontal, your power is based on a matrix of relationships. It takes a little longer to get things done, but we are willing to wait longer; we’re happy with living through the struggle to get to a better place. We think (the Cucalorus leadership model) is one of the essential contributions we make.” Brawley and his colleagues spend considerable time discussing how to stay true to Cucalorus’ values while continuing to expand and innovate. They even ponder the use of the word “innovation” as perhaps too stale or

overused. “The last five years have been challenging for Cucalorus,” he said. “As a result of our success, many of our core values have been challenged. Any time you feel your values are questioned, you need to do some self-reflection.” That self-examination led Brawley and his team to the conclusion that Cucalorus is, at its base, about community, a sense of connection to other human beings. And that brings Brawley back to the word “innovation.” “What our consultant in New York would say is the beautiful thing about innovation is that it takes a group of people implementing a series of technological advances simultaneously; a series of leaps in harmony,” he said. That definition of innovation and Cucalorus’ focus on community is causing Cucalorus Connect to evolve from its original spotlight on startup businesses working with emerging filmmakers to an examination of issues that create and influence community. Chris Hillier, New Hanover Regional Medical Center’s executive director of innovation, has become involved with Cucalorus’ envisioning process this year as well as planning for the business conference. Partly because of him and his health care specialization, Cucalorus Connect has also taken a path into that field. Durance said there would be a focus on coastal issues related to health and wellness. Financial technology and health care technology, two

Bottom row, from left: Musician Rhiannon Giddens at Thalian Hall; 2018 Cucalorus Connect conference; Cucalorus Connect coding workshop at Wrightsboro Elementary School; Superchunk on stage at Brooklyn Arts Center; Connect conference event at Ironclad Brewery; filmmaker and emcee Betsy Holt; female filmmakers meetup

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growing elements in the Wilmington business community, are also topics for Cucalorus Connect, Durance said. She wants to add marine science to the mix, given UNCW’s new bachelor’s degree program in coastal engineering and new Ph.D. in marine biology. “One of the leaders coming this year is an expert on coastal issues: careful coastal development, improving poverty,” Durance said. “It’s about what you can do to help communities preserve their resources and help people get out of poverty and be eco-friendly, preserving what tourists want to see.” “Coastal resilience” might be a holistic way to describe many of the elements coming together in the realm of human and natural environments, Durance added. And resilience is still on the minds of Connect planners after the devastation of a major coastal visitor two months before the 2018 conference. “Hurricane Florence was very disruptive,” Durance said about the September storm that caused widespread flooding and evacuations in the area. “For example, we had planned a breakfast event in connection with (National) Minority Enterprise Development Week, but many of our region’s minority business owners were preoccupied with storm recovery and couldn’t attend, especially those in rural areas.” At five years, Cucalorus Connect “can still be anything,” Brawley said, adding that the business conference has

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Dan Brawley, self-described chief instigating officer of Cucalorus, says organizers pay attention to upholding the festival’s values even as it expands.


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“tweaked the inner mechanism of Cucalorus in positive ways.” Mike Orr, a retired IBM technical staff member and manager, is this year’s Cucalorus Connect program manager. He agrees with Brawley that the event is continuing to evolve. “It’s always going to be about technology, but there is more emphasis on how technology can affect social issues,” he said. “Last year we had a couple of talks on AI (artificial intelligence) by UNCW professors. “Although they are coming back again, this year our keynoter will talk about how humans connect. We are moving away from heavy technology (subjects) to more about how technology affects our daily lives. “As program manager, I want Cucalorus Connect to be considered by conference attendees on a par with the film and performance events, contending for people’s attendance,” he continued. “Heavy technology conferences are available elsewhere. We need to be offering something that

is not easily gotten elsewhere.” Featuring startups will continue to be important, Orr said, adding there is a need to serve that audience and the collaboration with the CIE takes advantage of Durance’s expertise in the field of entrepreneurship. Even the startup spotlight elements, in Orr’s view, relate to technology’s role in improving quality of life. “If you look at the 10x10 and Rocket Pitch, most of that is around ‘How does my startup help or affect other people?’ Some come across as ‘This is how,’” he said. Brawley and Durance noted that this year’s Cucalorus Connect will move out of its previous home at Cape Fear Community College’s Union Station facility and into the Brooklyn Arts Center on North Fourth Street. Brawley is excited about the ways in which venues can influence events that take place inside them and believes that holding the conference in the BAC will contribute to a breakout

year for Cucalorus Connect. “Space is spiritual energy,” he said. “I think the BAC is the right space to mix (the conference parts) together.” Durance also said she looks forward to the BAC setting. “Union Station has a more classroom, office feel,” she said. “The BAC has more creative-type spaces. Our sessions will take advantage of that space and be less business-y and more flowing.” Looking ahead, Brawley says that Cucalorus will continue to explore how the festival should grow and what should be the essence of Connect. “We need to be open to the unexpected things that happen,” he said about the business conference’s evolution. “We want to continue to do challenging work. Finding the right space, with regard to scale, architecture and history, is an important part of that. That environment contributes to our push to be innovative, organic and authentic.”

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C H E M I CA L S INSIDE

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When Melissa S t r o n g wa s expecting her first child 10 years ago, s h e b e c am e concerned a s a pa r e n t about how the environment a n d c h e m i c al exposures can aff e c t p e o p l e ’ s h e al t h . BY JOHANNA CANO P H OTO S B Y E R I N C O S TA

A

s a Ph.D. graduate from the Medical University of South Carolina with a focus on environmental health, Melissa Strong noticed that there was a lot of disjointed information on the internet on the matter. “I realized that you had to go look up a scientific article to get anything substantial,” Strong said. “How is anyone without a biology degree supposed to navigate this information?” That is when Strong developed the nonprofit Coalition for Prevention and its “Healthy-Living Pocket Guide,” which provides simple steps people can take to limit their negative environmental exposures. Flash forward to today, and Strong’s efforts to provide researchbacked information to individuals has grown into IndiOmics, a biotech startup based in Wilmington that combined “individualized” and “omics” (technoligies that measure cellular molecules) to form its name. People are exposed to chemicals every day. From the plastics used to store food to sunscreen to meals, there are many ways that people’s health can be affected by environmental factors. During the opening ceremony for this year’s SAS Global Forum, which brings together those in the analytics, artificial intelligence and data management fields, Strong explained how IndiOmics is using data, research and analytics to learn about how bodies respond to chemical exposures. “We are trying to understand the effects of over 85,000 synthetic chemicals that are now in our environment and have the potential to influence our health, and machine learning is our path to find those answers,” Strong said at the event. With IndiOmics, slated to launch in January, users will create

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an online account and complete a questionnaire about their lifestyle, diet and consumer habits. Then they will receive a kit, similar to genealogy kits by 23andMe or AncestryDNA, with containers for saliva and urine samples. Once the lab receives the samples, IndiOmics will measure for a range of chemicals and look at the user’s cells. When results are in, including levels of exposure to chemicals such as bisphenol A (BPA), paraben and lead, users can look at and interact with their report through an online dashboard and receive a set of recommended lifestyle changes addressing concerns that their results might show. The price for the kit has not yet been determined, and there will be different versions that test for different ranges of chemicals. The most basic option would test for 12 of the most common endocrinedisrupting chemicals, Strong said. “We want to understand if these exposures are leading to inflammation or risk factors for disease,” Strong said. “The big thing is how can we modify it so if we can measure them in people, we can correlate them with adverse health effects. The steps for addressing these are usually a lot easier than we might imagine. For example, sometimes it could be as simple as no longer microwaving or heating plastics, which can eliminate a really big source of exposure.” While IndiOmics can find correlations that may link to a certain health condition, it will not assert that an exposure caused a health effect. “We can’t say causation,” Strong said. “We’re not going to be able to say the exposure caused this individual’s cancer, but we can find a lot of interesting correlations, or links to risk factors that may have been going on to set the stage for the cancer to develop.” IndiOmics comes at a time when people are more aware of FA L L 2019

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environmental factors they might have been exposed to, including GenX, an unregulated compound found in the region’s treated drinking water linked to The Chemours Co.’s operation in Fayetteville. “We here in the Cape Fear region are especially tuned to GenX and other PFAS compounds that we know have been discharged into the river,” Strong said. “Most of us here in this region are probably going to have certain levels of PFAS compounds. In that case, there’s not really much we can do beyond installing a reverse osmosis filter. But another thing we can do is no longer buy products containing these PFAS compounds like nonstick cookware.” To develop the startup, Strong has worked with Cary-based SAS Institute and other businesses in the Wilmington area. “In November there was the Cucalorus Connect conference, and that was where a lot of the contacts were made with SAS because they were presenting their Data for Good

IdiOmics worked with Leland-based Tri-Tech Forensics to package its testing kits.

initiative,” Strong said. “We agreed to partner with them in December, and things have gone a lot faster than I thought since then. We’ve had a couple of events, but it was speaking at the SAS Global Forum that really catapulted the efforts.” IndiOmics will license SAS for the dashboard visualization aspect of the product, Strong said. The startup has partnered

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with Leland-based crime-scene kit maker Tri-Tech Forensics, which will assemble the kits, print labels and mail the kits to customers. It also partnered with SeaTox Research, a biotechnology research and development company with lab space at University of North Carolina Wilmington’s MARBIONC building that IndiOmics was able to use. “Seeing data science really build


S PA R K 2 0 1 9 A hypothetical overview of a personalized dashboard of results for an IndOmics kit

here locally, I was never expecting that,” Strong said. “Wilmington was very different 30 years ago when I was growing up here. To have our supply chain, laboratory, all of these academic partners within this region has been phenomenal. I’ve lived in San Francisco, spent a lot of time in Boulder as well, and I have seen more happening here, at a much more affordable … much less competitive way. So that has been refreshing.”

With recent data breaches and news about companies sharing user data, Strong said IndiOmics would not sell its consumer information. “Selling data is no part of our business model,” Strong said. “The information will only be accessible within that individual secure dashboard.” To devote more time to the company, Strong left her data scientist role at nCino and has been funding

operations herself. Now that IndiOmics is closer to launching, Strong is seeking funding to grow the startup. “We’re at the point where the plan is very clear,” Strong said. “We just need to go ahead and see if someone wants to invest. I have been bootstrapping this myself mostly. It’s definitely a challenge figuring out how to cover your expenses in a new way.” To help with the launch of the startup, Strong recently recruited Wayne Zehner to take on the role of CEO. While there are a lot of laboratories measuring chemicals and other groups looking at cell markers, what makes IndiOmics unique is that it is combining those two with data science and machine learning, Strong said. “There’s no denying that we’ve shifted our lifestyles in some pretty dramatic ways based on even 100 years ago,” Strong said. “I would like to see the awareness of environmental health go mainstream, and that’s already happening.”

More room to coast. ILM served more than 900,000 passengers in 2018. Our 75% expansion over the next three years will allow us, and you, to continue to coast on in and coast on out.

flyilm.com/terminal-expansion

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DESTINATION WILMINGTON

Collaboration, Innovation Mark Growth in Port City Event Venues

Converted warehouses and churches. Renovated historic buildings. Craft breweries and unique restaurants. Expanding transportation infrastructure. A stateof-the-art convention center. New hotels. The greater Wilmington area is experiencing a renaissance when it comes to meeting spaces as it continues to grow its reputation as a sought-after destination for events large and small. A TEAM EFFORT

Wilmington was effectively cut off from the rest of the world travelwise in the aftermath of Hurricane

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Florence in September 2018. One of the immediate concerns of leaders throughout Brunswick, New Hanover, and Pender counties was how the storm would impact tourism, both in terms of vacationers and the many events that were already scheduled as well as in the pre-planning phase. Collaboration between government, businesses, economic development organizations and residents paid off in a little over a month, with groups starting to come back for meetings and special events by the end of October. One company — Pendo, a cloud technology company based in Raleigh — actually chose to host its annual company kickoff meeting in Wilmington in part to help the community recover from the storm. “It was heartwarming to see how everyone came together to help with the post-storm recovery, and we were touched by the support we received from people from around the country,” said Kim Hufham, President and CEO of the Wilmington and Beaches Convention & Visitors Bureau (CVB). The combination of the community’s response and the high visibility nationwide of the storm both

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pre- and post-landfall helped turn lemons into lemonade, showcasing Wilmington’s many amenities. These included with area beaches, UNCW and Cape Fear Community College (CFCC), the riverwalk, boutiques, galleries, activities, hotels, restaurants and history that are attractive to event attendees looking for things to do before, during, and after meetings, tradeshows, weddings and conferences.

PEOPLE ARE COMING

The post-Flo momentum has continued throughout the end of 2018 and into 2019, impacting events as well as travelers. According to the CVB, they are seeing an increase of approximately 33 percent for Wilmington Convention Center bookings this summer for upcoming fall and spring events. The organization is projecting room bookings 157 percent ahead of pace for 2020 and 230 percent ahead for 2021. More than 100,000 passengers passed through Wilmington International Airport this June — a new monthly record — which followed yearly increases of 14,000 passengers in May and 12,100 in

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April taking advantage of eight nonstop destinations, six international gateways, and 310 destinations worldwide. “Event growth positively impacts the number of passengers flying to Wilmington,” said ILM’s Erin McNally, who pointed out that Wilmington International Airport partners with agencies and local economic development entities to support event efforts. For example, ILM supports the CVB’s promotional efforts by providing up-to-date information on airlines serving the airport and their nonstop routes. The CVB is then able to share that information when connecting with meeting planners. The airport is also partnering with organizers of largescale events to create a welcoming experience for their traveling guests. Recent ILM collaborations include the Cucalorus festival, UNCW’s Osher Lifelong Learning Institute’s regional conference and the Carolina Cup stand up paddleboard race which has grown in event participation and reach over the years; in this year’s event, a majority of event participants came from over 18 countries. The airport is responding to this and future increases in passengers with growth of its own. “Our $60 million dollar terminal expansion will impact the number of flights and passengers coming into Wilmington, thereby appealing to a greater market of event planners and those attending,” said Carol LeTellier, business development director. “We hope to appeal to a developer/builder for a 100-room airport hotel. We have identified a site in the ILM Business Park.”

UNIQUE VENUES FOR DIVERSE EVENTS

Wilmington has its share of topnotch facilities for large educational, sports and entertainment events via the Convention Center, CFCC’s Wilson Center and UNCW’s Kenan Auditorium. Area hotels continue to make a significant impact with renovations and upgrades at the Blockade Runner Beach Resort, Holiday Inn Resort and Shell Island Resort in Wrightsville Beach and The Courtyard by Marriott Carolina Beach

Oceanfront. While most communities might stop there with standard event venues, Wilmington is leveraging its history and booming foodie and craft beer scene to create a truly innovative environment for a wide variety of events. A mainstay in Wilmington’s tourism scene, Battleship North Carolina now hosts over 280 events a year. The historic nature of the battleship as well as its name attracts many different groups hosting corporate meetings and receptions, fundraisers, small concerts, weddings, festivals, military balls and special dinners and birthday parties. “We are the only venue in town that has a fantastic view of downtown Wilmington; downtown Wilmington is actually looking at us,” Danielle Wallace, Battleship North Carolina programs director said, adding that people looking to host events do not have to be connected to the military. “We are available to everybody,” she said. According to Wallace, the ship’s event schedule was briefly interrupted last September by Flo but hosted a wedding ceremony on board two weeks after the storm and a major event with 600 people in late October. Today, rentals on the Battleship are booming, with events being planned more frequently year round. The availability of vendors providing food, beverage and other services — like Wilmington Water Tours bringing event guests to the ship from downtown via the river — makes planning seamless. Wallace is seeing growth in smaller unique events throughout the greater Wilmington area as the Convention Center continues to draw big ones. Ironclad Brewery hosts its share of unique events, to the tune of 180 per year on average. The revitalized historic building from the 1920’s boasts 10,000 square feet of event space with original interior brick walls, reflecting Wilmington’s rich historical identity. In 2018, roughly two thirds of Ironclad’s bookings were weddings, with the remainder catering to a range of private events. “We’ve got a big space, downstairs and up with two bars. We can do over

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400 people, most of the parties are over 150,” General Manager Rachel Flecke said. Ironclad CEO Ted Coughlin founded the brewery with the idea of holding corporate events, Flecke explained, and word quickly spread, especially throughout the region’s fledgling entrepreneurial community. In 2015, Jim Roberts, founder of the Network for Entrepreneurs in Wilmington and WALE (Wilmington Angels for Local Entrepreneurs) began hosting free monthly events at Ironclad focused on connecting startups with resources to help them grow. Today, the gatherings draw a packed house. “Ted is supportive of entrepreneurs and growing the economy and creating better jobs in Wilmington,” Roberts said. “Our organizations would not exist in Wilmington if not for the meeting space at Ironclad.” Large conferences and events hosted in the area’s larger venues, combined with the continued growth of unique venues for smaller events helped spur a positive local economy, even with the damage inflicted by Flo. In 2018, visitor spending in the Cape Fear region reached a 28-year high, with Pender, New Hanover, and Brunswick counties seeing increases of 5 to nearly 7 percent, reaching nearly $600 million between all three. As accolades continue to roll in from well-known, highly visible publications like Southern Living and Men’s Journal, the number of event planners targeting Wilmington will grow. According to Rachel Flecke, the local event venues, governments, and businesses that supported each other after Flo will continue to work together to support that growth. “Wilmington has tons of event spaces that are different which is what I love. I don’t see a sense of competition, we’re just thrilled to see new options develop out of our area’s unique spaces,” she said. Photos c/o: Battleship North Carolina, Lightbloom Photography, Wilmington and Beaches Convention & Visitors Bureau, and Wilmington Internation Airport.

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THE SCENE WilmingtonBiz Events

Snapshots from the Power Breakfast, WilmingtonBiz After Hours, and WILMA's Leadership Accelerator. Stay tuned to upcoming events at WilmingtonBiz.com.

Rileigh Wilkins, Jo Howell and Michelle Kistner at WILMA's July Leadership Accelerator.

Speakers Chris Courdriet and John Gizdic at the September Power Breakfast.

Abby Haithcock, Cassandra McNeil and Adrienne Cox at the June Power Breakfast.

Darlene Robinson and Jonathan Acosta at the June Power Breakfast.

Lexie Alston and Sue Meier join friends at the June Power Breakfast.

Alexandra Lysik with friends Blaine and Liz Myers at the July WilmingtonBiz After Hours at Waterman's Brewing.

A crowd gathers at the May WilmingtonBiz After Hours at Poe's Tavern.

Vera Newkirk, Kathy Denlinger and Ruth Glaser at the September Power Breakfast.

Jackie Jordan at WILMA's July Leadership Accelerator.

U PCOM I NG EVE NTS Health Care Heroes November 15

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WilmingtonBiz After Hours November 20

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WilmingtonBiz 100 December 10

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Power Breakfast December 12


Women networking after the Keynote Lunch at WILMA's July Leadership Accelerator.

Speakers Jonathan Barfield, Natalie English, JC Lyle, Bill Saffo and Michael Sprayberry at the June Power Breakfast.

Girard and Tracey Newkirk with friends at the July WilmingtonBiz After Hours at Waterman's Brewing. Marc Mereyde at the July WilmingtonBiz After Hours at Waterman's Brewing.

Pat Sykes and Shelbourn Stevens at the September Power Breakfast

Women on the way to leadership workshops at WILMA's July Leadership Accelerator.

Jennifer Loper, Jeff Morvil and Rich Novak at the September Power Breakfast.

Book on Business Launch January 29, 2020

Power Breakfast March 3, 2020

WilmingtonBiz Conference & Expo March 18, 2020

Laverry Kumar enjoys the outdoor patio at the May WilmingtonBiz After Hours at Poe's Tavern.

Coastal Entrepreneur Awards May 21, 2020

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WilmingtonBiz After Hours May 27, 2020

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Power Breakfast June 18, 2020

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EVENT PLANNING GUIDE

The Cape Fear region is bustling with activity, and it shows in the number of unique coastal, downtown and upscale venues available for a variety of public and private events, as well as the service companies that help pull those events together. The following is a sampling of venues and services in New Hanover, Brunswick and Pender counties.

DOWNTOWN

128 SOUTH

910.399.1709 128southevents.com

Open floor plan that includes a river-view deck, as well as a second-floor mezzanine overlooking the central lower level. Hotel accommodations available at the adjacent Stemmerman’s Inn. In-house catering Capacity: 180 Onsite parking: No

910.538.2939 brooklynartsnc.org

Historic repurposed church with 60-foot cathedral ceilings, a stage and a refurbished 1910 onsite schoolhouse (The Annex). Outside catering Capacity: 250 Onsite parking: No

910.520.7956 atriumwilmington.com

BELLAMY MANSION MUSEUM

910.251.3700 bellamymansion.org

Antebellum mansion open to the public and available for private events, with access to a choice of interior rooms, porches and exterior grounds and gardens. Outside catering Capacity: 150 Onsite parking: Yes

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CITY CLUB OF WILMINGTON

910.343.1880 cityclubofwilmington.com

Nineteenth century mansion with terraced gardens, onsite suites and salon services, as well as an event planner and serving staff. In-house catering Capacity: 200 Onsite parking: No

THE ATRIUM BY LIGON FLYNN

Nestled between historic buildings, this open-air garden with natural foliage and brick walkways is available for weddings, concerts, benefits and other private events. Outside catering Capacity: 200 Onsite parking: No

events, such as weddings, wedding receptions, corporate functions, dinners and cocktail parties. Seven distinct areas on four different levels. Capacity: 130

BATTLESHIP

NORTH CAROLINA 910.399.9100 battleshipnc.com

World War II-era ship and museum that offers the outside fantail overlooking the Cape Fear River and two interior rooms for private events. Outside catering Capacity: 300 Onsite parking: Yes

BURGWIN-WRIGHT HOUSE AND GARDENS

910.762.0570

burgwinwrighthouse.com Lush gardens and charming courtyard provide a uniquely beautiful setting for private 2019 EVE NT PL AN N I NG G U I DE

COASTLINE INN CONFERENCE & EVENT CENTER

910.763.2800 coastlineinn.com

Repurposed historic train depot with a banquet hall and conference and event space. Onsite hotel accommodations available. Outside catering Capacity: 1,000 Onsite Parking: Yes

CFCC WILSON CENTER

910.362.7898 capefearstage.com

State-of-the-art performance space with options to rent the main hall, lobby or both areas. Outside catering Capacity: 1,559 Onsite parking: Yes

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CFCC UNION STATION

910.362.7488 cfcc.edu

Top-floor event space with views of the Cape Fear River, an open-air terrace and multimedia capabilities. Outside catering Capacity: 400 Onsite parking: Yes

EMBASSY SUITES BY HILTON WILMINGTON RIVERFRONT

910.765.1131 hilton.com

Hotel along the riverfront that includes a banquet hall for large events, as well as meeting spaces. Offers onsite event planning coordinators. In-house catering Capacity: 250 Onsite parking: Yes

EVENTS! ON FRONT

910.777.2887 eventsonfront.com

Flexible event space with a staging kitchen, 18-foot tile bar and assortment of tables and chairs available for use. Outside catering Capacity: 100 Onsite Parking: No

FRONT STREET BREWERY

910.769.4085 beamroomcatering.com |

frontstreetbrewery.com


Wilmington’s first brewery and restaurant that includes The Beam Room, a top-floor event space with a full bar, restrooms and audio and video equipment. In-house catering Capacity: 150 Onsite parking: No

HOTEL BALLAST

910.763.5900 hotelballast.com

Boasts the largest ballroom on the Wilmington waterfront, as well as a second, smaller ballroom, meeting spaces and a bridal suite. (Formerly Hilton Wilmington Riverside). In-house catering Capacity: 1,000 (grand ballroom) Onsite parking: Yes

IRONCLAD BREWERY

ironcladbrewery.com 910.769.0290

Restored 1925 building in the heart of downtown Wilmington with modern industrial design, an onsite brewery, multiple bars and serving staff. Outside catering Capacity: 300

Onsite parking: No

MARINA GRILL

910.769.7974 marinagrillwilmington.com Waterfront restaurant located behind PPD and next to Port City Marina on the Cape Fear River. Indoor and outdoor seating, can accomodate private parties and events from small and intimate to a large corporate function. Capacity: 250

THE RIVER ROOM

910.251.8902 theriverroomevents.com

Restored 19th century structure that includes a Sunset Flat, bridal suite and cocktail party venue, as well as a deck available for rental at an additional cost. Outside catering Capacity: 120 Onsite parking: No

THE RIVERWALK LANDING

910.343.0408 riverwalklandingnc.com

Outdoor venue located along the Cape Fear River with a spacious deck that offers rentals of tents

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with lighting, tables, chairs and linens, as well as professional servers. Capacity: 250 Onsite parking: No

SAINT THOMAS PRESERVATION HALL

WAREHOUSE 1856

910.297.6526 warehouse1856.com Wedding and event space overlooking the Cape Fear River. Capacity: 150

910.343.1880

Former Catholic church listed on the National Historic Register with stained glass windows and high ceilings. Includes a staging kitchen, bridal boudoir and two bars. Outside catering Capacity: 280 Onsite parking: No

PIER 33 ENTERTAINMENT VENUE

910.803.3234 riverwalklandingnc.com

Waterfront location for hosting concerts, private events, intimate cocktail parties, corporate luncheons and lavish wedding receptions. Fully equipped sound stage, room for food trucks. Capacity: 3,000

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WILMINGTON CONVENTION CENTER

910.251.5101 wilmingtonconventions.com

The largest of its kind on the N.C. coast. Can accommodate guests for a variety of private VIP and large-scale public events in its flexible spaces, including a grand ballroom and exhibit hall. In-house catering Capacity: 1,750 (exhibit hall) Onsite parking: Yes

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WRIGHTSVILLE BEACH & MAYFAIRE BLOCKADE RUNNER BEACH RESORT

910.256.2251 blockade-runner.com

Wrightsville Beach hotel with all-waterfront rooms, an outdoor patio bar and East oceanfront dining restaurant. Offers five rooms, as well as garden and lawn space, for private events and “The Cottage,� a 13-room suite with common areas for reunions and corporate retreats. In-house catering Capacity: 300 (largest room)

handcrafted menus and an inhouse pastry chef. Rooms are available for rent, as well as the entire clubhouse. In-house catering Capacity: 800 (entire clubhouse)

FOX & HOUND

910.509.0805 foxandhound.com/locations/ wilmington

Mayfaire restaurant and pub that can accommodate large groups for parties, rehearsal dinners, showers, meetings, holiday parties and other events. In-house catering Capacity: 100

ARBORETUM

910.798.7660 arboretum.nhcgov.com

Seven-acre public garden available for private events. Facility rental includes a fully equipped indoor kitchen, auditorium, outdoor grill and performance space for musicians. Outside catering Capacity: 150

OCEANIC RESTAURANT

910.509.4046 hilton.com

910.256.8500 bluewaterdining.com

Restaurant and event space along the Intracoastal Waterway serving casual American fare for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Includes a banquet room and a third-floor meeting room. In-house catering Capacity: 200

BRIDGE TENDER

910.256.4519 thebridgetender.com

Fine dining establishment on the Intracoastal Waterway with a board room and private events room. In-house catering Capacity: 200

COUNTRY CLUB OF LANDFALL

910.256.8411 countrycluboflandfall.com

Clubhouse within the gated community of Landfall that provides multiple locations for a variety of events, as well as onsite event coordinators,

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910.256.5551 oceanicrestaurant.com

Hotel in Mayfaire Town Center that features an onsite restaurant, outdoor pool and 2,000-squarefoot meeting space. In-house catering Capacity: 90 (meeting room)

HOLIDAY INN RESORT WRIGHTSVILLE BEACH

910.256.2231

wrightsville.holidayinnresorts.com

Oceanside resort with familythemed activities, outdoor and indoor pools, hot tubs and a wading pool. Features six banquet rooms. In-house catering Capacity: 350

HOMEWOOD SUITES BY HILTON WILMINGTON

910.791.7272 hilton.com

Hotel located between Mayfaire Town Center and Wrightsville Beach with a 1,000-square-foot meeting space. Outside catering Capacity: 120

NEW HANOVER COUNTY COOPERATIVE EXTENSIVE

910.256.8696 shellisland.com

Family-friendly, full-service luxury resort on the northern tip of Wrightsville Beach with indoor and outdoor pools, a tiki bar, onsite restaurant, private beach access and banquet and event rooms. In-house catering Capacity: 300 (largest room)

THE TERRACES ON SIR TYLER

HILTON GARDEN INN WILMINGTON

BLUEWATER WATERFRONT GRILL

SHELL ISLAND RESORT

Coastal-inspired oceanfront restaurant on Crystal Pier serving brunch, lunch and dinner. Includes a large classroom/meeting room. In-house catering Capacity: 150

OSTERIA CICCHETTI AT THE FORUM

910.256.7476 osteria-cicchetti.com

Italian restaurant offering a large private dining space for meetings, rehearsals and parties. In-house catering Capacity: 200

PORTERS NECK COUNTRY CLUB

910.686.8180 portersneckcountryclub.com

Clubhouse overlooking a 4-star Tom Fazio golf course that provides flexible space and a variety of menus for corporate functions, business meetings, cocktail galas, weddings and other events. In-house catering Capacity: 200

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910.473.5550 terracesonsirtyler.com

Event facility named for its two rooftop terraces that also includes a grand ballroom, conference rooms, atrium water features and cutting-edge technological capabilities. Outside catering Capacity: 450 (ballroom); 240 (outdoor terrace)

WRIGHTSVILLE BEACH PARK

townofwrightsvillebeach.com 910.256.7937

Public park located in the heart of Wrightsville Beach with a playground, as well as tennis and basketball courts and other recreational facilities. Available for event rentals with an approved permit application.

WRIGHTSVILLE MANOR AND GARDENS

910.508.7224 wrightsvillemanor.com

Indoor-outdoor event venue located near the gateway to Wrightsville Beach on a 1.25acre property that features a patio veranda, gardens and lawn space, as well as a catering prep room and service area. Outside catering Capacity: 300


PLEASURE ISLAND private events. Outside catering Capacity: 350

ATLANTIC TOWERS

910.458.8313 atlantic-towers.com

Eleven-story oceanside condominium complex offering unique one- and two-bedroom suites with private balconies available for nightly, weekly or monthly rentals. Amenities include indoor and outdoor pools, a gazebo with a grilling area and a club room for meetings and events. Outside catering Capacity: 60 (meeting room)

BEAU RIVAGE GOLF & RESORT 910.392.9021 beaurivagegolf.com

Golf clubhouse near Carolina Beach with more than 6,000 square feet of versatile space between five rooms. Resort offers onsite lodging, banquet facilities, various views of the course, and a poolside tiki bar and a hardwood dance floor. In-house catering Capacity: 350

CAROLINA BEACH LAKE PARK

910.458.7416 carolinabeach.org

Eleven-acre freshwater lake near the ocean that is the site for public events including a weekly farmers market, Pleasure Island Chowder Cookoff and free outdoor movies. Kayak and paddleboat, picnic and gazebo rentals available. Outside catering

CAROLINA BEACH STATE PARK

910.458.8206 ncparks.gov/carolina-beachstate-park

Campsite and marina with onsite cabins, hiking trails, a classroom and an auditorium available for half- and full-day rental. Outside catering Capacity: 65 (auditorium)

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GOLDEN SANDS BEACH RESORT

COURTYARD CAROLINA BEACH 910.458.2030 marriott.com/hotels

Beachside resort on the Carolina Beach Boardwalk with flexible event space, newly remodeled hotel rooms and suites, a restaurant and indoor and outdoor pools. In-house catering Capacity: 300 910.458.1429 darlingsbythesea.com

Oceanfront suites aimed at providing “romantic getaways” for couples. Features five rooms with whirlpools, as well as 24/7 on-call service and use of beach chairs and bicycles.

FORT FISHER AIR FORCE RECREATION AREA

910.458.6549 ftfishermilrec.com

Site available to active duty military, disabled veterans, reservists and Department of Defense civilians that includes event space, an onsite restaurant and bar and an outdoor swimming pool. In-house catering Capacity: Call for details

FORT FISHER STATE HISTORIC SITE

910.251.7340 historicsitesnc.gov/all-sites/ fort-fisher

Remaining portions of the Civil War's largest amphibious battle that includes scenic trails, the adjacent Visitors Center & Gift Shop and oceanfront gazebos. Available for public and private tours, as well as weddings and

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910.458.8334 goldensandmotel.com

Oceanfront hotel with private balconies and a pier, as well as the Ocean Grill Restaurant and Tiki Bar, an indoor and outdoor pool and a meeting room. Outside catering Capacity: 75

HAMPTON INN & SUITES CAROLINA BEACH OCEANFRONT

910.707.1770 hilton.com

Beachside hotel next to the Carolina Beach Boardwalk with an oceanfront pool and space for small weddings and meetings. Outside catering Capacity: 50

KURE BEACH COMMUNITY CENTER

910.707.2015 townofkurebeach.org

Approximately 2,300-square-foot building a block from Ocean Front Park. Includes a kitchen area with a serving island for catering, a separate meeting room, large banquet room and onsite parking. Outside catering Capacity: 100 (banquet room)

THE LAZY PIRATE SPORTS GRILL

910.458.5299 lazypiratesportsgrill.com

Restaurant and bar in Carolina Beach with a casual atmosphere and outdoor seating. Offers space to accommodate events of all sizes, as well as a customizable menu. In-house catering Capacity: Call for details

N.C. AQUARIUM AT FORT FISHER

910.772.0500 ncaquariums.com

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Offers partial- or full-rental options, as well as onsite childcare and touch tank access for after-hours events and behind-the-scenes tours for daytime events. Outside catering Capacity: 350

OCEAN FRONT PARK & PAVILION

910.458.8216 townofkurebeach.org

Kure Beach’s largest public green space located near the Kure Beach Fishing Pier. Features an open-air pavilion with a stage for concerts, weddings and events, as well as a children’s play area and public restrooms. Outside catering Capacity: 75

SEAWITCH CAFÉ & TIKI BAR

910.707.0533 seawitchtikibar.com

Carolina Beach restaurant offering a casual event space for both indoor and outdoor events. Offers a full event catering menu that includes hors d'oeuvres, entrees, buffets, and pasta and taco bars. In-house catering Capacity: 150

THE PEARL AND THE PETAL

910.524.1251 thepearlandthepetal.net

1930s standalone building with ground-floor event space, an upstairs preparation room and a lighted patio. Offers flexible packages based on specific events. Outside catering Capacity: 175

WINNER PARTY BOAT FLEET

910.458.5356 winnerboats.com

Carolina Beach fleet with boats for various functions, including a high-speed catamaran for fishing excursions and a triple-deck dinnercruise vessel for formal events. In-house catering Capacity: 250 (dinner-cruise vessel)


As You Wish....

(910) 395-1868 | www.JuliasFlorist.com 900 S Kerr Ave, Wilmington, NC 28403


MIDTOWN

CAMERON ART MUSEUM

910.395.5999 cameronartmuseum.org

Historical and contemporary art museum with rotating indoor and outdoor exhibits and permanent collections.The facility includes a reception hall with multimedia capabilities, a courtyard, conference room, roof terrace and an onsite café, which can be rented for smaller events. In-house catering Capacity: 200 (reception hall)

THE BURNEY CENTER AT UNCW

910.962.4150 uncw.edu/campuslife/services

More than 9,000-square-foot ballroom on the campus of UNC-Wilmington with modern sound and lighting system and a catering prep kitchen. The ballroom can be configured to include banquet and auditorium

seating. In-house catering (campus provider) Capacity: 1,000 (auditorium seating); 600 (banquet seating)

a 10-seat conference room. Outside catering Capacity: 650

HAMPTON INN WILMINGTON MEDICAL PARK

910.796.8881 hilton.com

Centrally located accommodations that include a business center, fitness center, an outdoor pool and a conference room for business meetings. Outside catering Capacity: 150

SCOTTISH RITE TEMPLE

910.762.6452 wilmingtonaasr.org

Freemason lodge available to rent for events and social functions. Features a large dining room and auditorium, as well as

HOPS SUPPLY CO. 910.833.8867 hopssupplyco.com

Fresh, flavorful cuisine and craft beer with an upscale pub vibe. The Pub Room can accommodate cocktail receptions, rehearsal dinners, meetings and corporate events, social occasions and holiday parties. In-house catering Capacity: 75

THE WARWICK CENTER AT UNCW

910.962.4150 uncw.edu/campuslife/services

UNCW’s largest multiuse event space, with additional smaller meeting rooms. The ballroom can be configured for auditorium-style seating or set up for a banquet. In-house catering (through campus provider) Capacity: 600 (auditorium); 320 (banquet)

AIRLIE GARDENS

910.798.7700 airliegardens.org

Wedding ceremonies and receptions, birthday parties, wedding and baby showers, family reunions and corporate events. Four distinct event spaces including Oak Lawn, Bradley Creek Lawn, Pergola Garden and Bottle Chapel Lawn. Outside catering Capacity: 300

Reward your employees and impress your clients with Thyme Savor’s corporate lunches. Corporate Lunches · Special Events · Ready to Serve Party Platters Ask about our catering reward program! Rewards members earn 5% annually on your catering purchases! *Terms and conditions apply

910.262.2962 www.athymesavor.com 66

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BRUNSWICK COUNTY BALD HEAD ISLAND CLUB

910.457.7300 bhiclub.net

Clubhouse on Bald Head that offers banquet facilities, conference rooms, an expansive lawn for outdoor events, and a terrace space. In-house catering Capacity: 250

THE BARN AT ROCK CREEK

910.253.4012 thebarnatrockcreek.com

Rustic farm setting. Dining and banquet tables, handcrafted bar, antique farm table. Outside catering Capacity: 150

CAPE FEAR YACHT CLUB

capefearyc@gmail.com capefearyachtclub.com

Clubhouse is available to rent

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for weddings, receptions, private parties, luncheons, meetings, seminars and other events. Facility includes kitchen area and bar; private lakeview; spacious landscaped lawn; and wraparound deck. Outside catering Capacity: 99 On-site parking

HAMPTON INN & SUITES BY HILTON SOUTHPORT

910.477.9830 Hilton.com

Full-service hotel with outdoor pool, gym and a fire pit. Minutes away from Dutchman Creek Park, historic downtown Southport, area beaches and golf courses. Meeting facilities include full audio-visual, Wi-Fi for company meetings, training sessions, continuing education programs. Outside catering

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Capacity: 50 On-site parking

MAGNOLIA GREENS GOLF PLANTATION

910.383.0999 magnoliagreensgolf.com

Capacity: 250

ODELL WILLIAMSON AUDITORIUM

910.755.7416 bccowa.com

Golf course clubhouse in Leland that includes 1,600 square feet in banquet space for weddings and other private functions. Facility provides tables, chairs, linens and table settings, as well as set up and break-down. In-house catering Capacity: 75

Auditorium and performance space located on the campus of Brunswick Community College in Bolivia. Adjacent Virginia Williamson Event Center is available for smaller events. Outside catering Capacity: 1,500 (auditorium); 95 (event center)

MARKER 614 BANQUET HALL

SILVER COAST WINERY

910.448.1002 southportbanquethall.com

Event venue near the Southport Marina with 3,750 square feet of indoor ballroom space, as well as outdoor space and meeting rooms, a full kitchen and waterfront views. Outside catering

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Locally owned winery in Ocean Isle Beach offering rental of the vineyard, patio and lawn, its interior Barrel Room, and the Art Gallery for smaller events. Outside catering Capacity: 130


PENDER COUNTY oceansedgenc.com

HAMPSTEAD WOMEN’S CLUB

Located at the tallest point on Topsail Island, which allows for panoramic views of the sunset and waterfront. Full-service venue with custom packages and an onsite coordinator. In-house catering Capacity: 300

910.270.9549 hampsteadwomensclub.org

Includes use of catering kitchen, outside patio space, portable speakers and furniture. Outside catering Capacity: 170

NORTH SHORE COUNTRY CLUB

HISTORICAL SOCIETY OF TOPSAIL ISLAND

910.327.2410 northshoregolfcoursenc.com

910.803.0521 topsailhistoricalsociety.org

Clubhouse on the green at North Shore Golf Course in Sneads Ferry available to rent for weddings, banquets, meetings and private parties. Private meeting and dining area with a full-service bar and dance floor available. Outside catering Capacity: 150

Assembly Building includes dance floor, kitchen, two smaller rooms with water and sunset views. Outside catering Capacity: 250

OCEAN’S EDGE RESTAURANT & EVENT CENTER

OLDE POINT COUNTRY CLUB

Capacity: 150

Meeting, wedding, and banquet facility on a scenic 18-hole public golf course with Bermuda fairways and Paspalum greens. Located just off Highway 17 with easy access to Wilmington, less than 15 minutes to Surf City beaches. Three separate meeting venues. Wi-Fi available. In-house catering Capacity: 50/80/120 On-site parking

POPLAR GROVE PLANTATION

910.686.9518 poplargrove.org

THE SURFSIDE CENTER AT THE SURF CITY WELCOME CENTER

910.328.2716 topsailchamber.org

Oceanfront setting that includes an ocean-facing patio and access to the beach. Is not equipped with an audio system or speakers. Outside catering Capacity: 300

TOPSAIL MANOR

Peanut plantation turned museum in Scotts Hill, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, that can accommodate a variety of events in its museum facility and on plantation grounds. Outside catering

800.TOPSAIL topsailmanor.com

Eight bedroom, 8,000-squarefoot oceanfront manor built in 2017 available for multi-family vacations, as well as weddings, reunions and corporate events. Outside catering Capacity: 100 (event-only) ©2019 Battleship NORTH CAROLINA

910.328.0582

oldepointgolf.com 910.406.1419

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services di r ecto ry

CATE R E R S ANGIE’S OF CHRIS’S RESTAURANT

BEAUCHAINES 211

Surf City, NC 910.328.1888

BILL’S CATERING

Wilmington, NC 910.762.0111 seeyouatbills.com/bills-catering

Wilmington, NC 910.343.9902 angiescatering.net

CASEY’S BUFFET

ART CATERING

Wilmington, NC 910.798.2913 caseysbuffet.com

Shallotte, NC 910.755.6642 artcateringevents.com

COASTAL CATERING AND EVENTS

Southport, NC 910.845.2516 coastalcateringandevents.com

COASTLINE CATERING

THE BEAM ROOM CATERING Wilmington, NC 910.769.4085 BeamRoomCatering.com

Shallotte, NC 910.754.8680 coastlinecateringnc.com

DIAMOND CATERING

Wilmington, NC 910.399.3811 diamondcateringservices.com

proud sponsor of the 2019 azalea festival The ideal backdrop of historic charm and riverfront views, boasting 107,000 square feet of space, the Wilmington Convention Center is ready for your Corporate Meeting, Convention, Trade Show, and Banquet.

Welcome to Wilmington w w w.W i l m i n g to n C o n v e n t i o n s .c o m 10 C o n v e n t i o n C e n t e r D r i v e

Wilmington, NC 28 4 02

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GOURMET TO GO & CATERED AFFAIRS LLC

Southport, NC 910.505.9336 gourmettogosouthport.com

LITTLE POND CATERERS

PINE VALLEY MARKET

Wilmington, NC 910.256.0115 sweetnsavory.cafe

SAWMILL CATERING COMPANY

F LO R I STS

Wilmington, NC 910.960.7663 littlepondcaterers.com

Wilmington, NC 910.620.7001 sawmillcatering.com

MIDDLE OF THE ISLAND CATERING

SPOONFED KITCHEN & BAKE SHOP

Wilmington, NC 910.256.4273 middleoftheisland.com

Wilmington, NC 910.679.8881 spoonfedkitchen.com

MILNER’S CAFÉ & CATERING

SURF CITY BARBECUE AND CATERING

Wilmington, NC 910.350.8899 milnerscafeandcatering.com

SWEET N SAVORY CAFÉ

Wilmington, NC 910.350.3663 pinevalleymarket.com

Surf City, NC 910.328.4227 surfcitybbq.com

SWEET BAY CATERING

Bald Head Island, NC 910.457.7450 sweetbaycatering.com

BLOOMERS FLORAL DESIGNS

Ocean Isle Beach, NC 910.575.4000 bloomersnc.com

BRUNSWICK TOWN FLORIST

Southport, NC 910.457.1144 brunswicktownflorist.net

CALABASH FLORIST & COMPANY INC. Calabash, NC 910.859.0223 calabashflorist.webs.com

COASTAL FLORAL

Shallotte, NC 910.754.6200 coastalfloraldesigns.com

NOTHING BUNDT CAKES

Wilmington, NC 910.679.8797 nothingbundtcakes.com

OCEAN RIDGE CATERING

Ocean Isle Beach, NC 910.287.1713 oceanridgecatering.com

CREATIVE DESIGNS BY JIM

Burgaw, NC 910.686.9000 creativedesignsbyjim.com

A THYME SAVOR CATERING & MARKET Wilmington, NC 910.262.2962 athymesavor.com

DESIGN PERFECTION

Wilmington, NC 910.512.4145 designperfectionnc.com

ECO CHIC BLOSSOMS

Wilmington, NC 910.617.3864 ecochicblossoms.com

EDDIE’S FLORAL GALLERY

Wilmington, NC 910.791.0990 eddiesfloralgallery.com

FIORE FINE FLOWERS

Enjoy the view... 72

FROM SPECIAL EVENTS OCEANFRONT, TO CASUAL DINNERS ON THE TERRACE - HOLIDAY INN RESORT OFFERS IT ALL.

(910) 256-2231 · 1706 N Lumina Ave, Wrightsville Beach, NC 28480

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Wilmington, NC 910.791.6770 fiorefineflowers.com

FLORA VERDI

Wilmington, NC 910.815.8585 bloomersfloraldesignsnc.com

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GREEN THUMB FLORAL BOUTIQUE

KIM FISHER DESIGNS

Wilmington, NC 910.279.5530 kimfisherdesigns.com

Wilmington, NC 910.742.0185 facebook.com/ GreenThumbFloralBoutique

LESAISONS

WINE & ROSES FLORIST

Wilmington, NC 910.399.7018 lesaisons.com

Southport, NC 910.457.4428 wine-roses-florist.business.site

LOU’S FLOWER WORLD

VERZAAL’S FLORIST & EVENTS

Wilmington, NC 910.395.1004 lousflowerworld.com

JULIA'S EVENTS & FLORIST Wilmington, NC 910.395.1868 juliasflorist.com

JUST FOR YOU FLORIST & GIFTS

Bolivia, NC 910.755.5878 justforuflorist.com

WILD BY NATURE

Southport, NC 910.363.5032 wildbynaturellc.com

SHALLOTTE FLORIST

Shallotte, NC 910.754.4848 shallotteflorist.com

Wilmington, NC 910.791.1756 verzaalsflorist.com

TRANSPORTATION

SWEET NECTAR’S FLORIST

Leland, NC 910.371.2224 sweetnectarsflorist.com

SURF CITY FLORIST

Surf City, NC 910.328.3238 surfcityflorist.com

AHA EXPRESS

Wilmington, NC 252.327.5537 aha.express

AZALEA LIMOUSINE SERVICE

Wilmington, NC 910.452.5888 azalealimo.com

Located on the Riverwalk in the Heart of Historic Downtown Wilmington, The George on the Riverwalk is the perfect venue to host your big event or enjoy a casual night out with friends or family. The historic Cape Fear River creates the perfect backdrop for any occasion and boasts the most beautiful sunsets around. We’re proud to offer fresh seafood, Certified Angus Beef® and more, and source locally if possible! Choose to dine inside, outside, or pull up a seat at our fully-stocked bar! The George has something for everyone!

@TheGeorgeILM

910-763-2052

www.thegeorgerestaurant.com Lunch:

Tuesday-Friday 11AM-5PM Saturday 2PM-5PM Dinner: Tuesday-Saturday 5PM-9PM Brunch: Saturday 10AM-2PM Sunday 10AM-3PM

128 South Water Street

Historic Downtown Wilmington

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BLUEWATER TRANSPORT

SERVICE

Wilmington, NC 910.208.0057 bluewatertransport.com

Sunset Beach, NC 910.579.9926 easywaylimoservice.com

AUDIO-VISUAL

CAPE FEAR LIMO & COACH LINES

EVENT SHUTTLE SERVICE

Southport, NC 910.448.1002 3cheerspartyrentals.com

Wilmington, NC 910.398.8333 eventshuttleservice.com

Wilmington, NC 910.679.4339 Charterbusnc.com

CAROLINA CLASSIC CAR RENTALS

Wilmington, NC 919.366.5222 carolinaclassiccarrentals.com

Wilmington, NC 910.338.7706 coastaleventshuttle.com

DANIELS TOURS LLC

Wilmington, NC 910.763.6070 danielscompany.com

EASY WAY LIMO & TRANSPORTATION

ACOUSTICREATIONS INC.

Leland, NC 910.371.2038 acouticreations.com

LETT’S LIMOUSINE SERVICE

Wilmington, NC 910.343.4161 lettslimo.com

AUDIO VISUAL SERVICES COASTAL

PLATINUM LIMOUSINE

Wilmington, NC 910.341.0045 avcoastal.com

PRESTIGE LIMOUSINE

Wilmington, NC 910.790.0324 AValive.com

VIP LIMO OF WILMINGTON

Wilmington, NC 443.854.2741 behindthesoundav.com

Wilmington, NC 910.833.7026 platinumlimonc.com

COASTAL EVENT SHUTTLE

3 CHEERS PARTY RENTAL

Wilmington, NC 910.799.4484 prestigelimousineservice.com

Wilmington, NC 910.264.4343/910.619.5890 viplimowilmington.com

AVALIVE

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Join the CIE Givitas Ecosystem and Tap Into Generous Advice! Givitas is a simple path for exchanging help and making connections.

Sign up here: https://cie.givitas.com/invite/signup. Email cie@uncw.edu with questions.

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CAROLINA STRAND

Wilmington, NC 800.772.0349 carolinastrand.com

EZAV

Wilmington, NC 910.762.4144 ezav.biz

FILMWERKS INTERNATIONAL INC.

Rocky Point, NC 910.675.1145 filmwerksintl.com

J & S AUDIO VISUAL

Wilmington, NC 910.202.3160 jsav.com

K2 PRODUCTIONS

Wilmington, NC 919.341.5111 k2proevents.com

PAST PRESENT FUTURE DIGITAL INC.

Wilmington, NC 910.399.1820 ppfdigital.com

SOUND WAVE AUDIO

Wilmington, NC 910.794.2858 soundwaveaudio.com

STAFFING / OTHER NORTH CAROLINA’S BRUNSWICK ISLANDS

Shallotte, NC 910.755.5517 ncbrunswick.com

PENDER COUNTY TOURISM

Burgaw, NC 910.259.1278 visitpender.com

WILMINGTON BEACHES CONVENTION VISITOR’S BUREAU

Wilmington, NC 910.341.4030 wilmingtonandbeaches.com

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TA RG E T I N G TECH TALENT

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n an early summer Friday morning, a group is paddleboarding along the Wilmington waterways, enjoying the views of the sun peaking on the horizon. The group isn’t on vacation, however, nor are they taking a day off from work to unwind. They are a team of nCino employees taking advantage of free paddleboard lessons and early morning hours before heading off to work, a perk their employer provides. Free surfing and paddleboarding lessons, on-site gyms, no dress codes, competitive health benefits, complimentary

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BY JOHANNA CANO

PHOTO BY MEGAN DEITZ

food, micro-breweries and communal gardens. Some of the perks and benefits that Wilmington-area tech companies provide their employees might seem like small added bonuses, but in large part they help employers attract talent – a task that has been increasingly harder among businesses in the tech industry. A survey conducted by online job search site Indeed found that 86% of respondents, made up of hiring managers and tech recruiters, said it’s challenging to find and hire tech talent. Locally, recruiting officials from several companies – including CastleBranch, Live Oak Bank, nCino and Atlantic Packaging, which hires those in IT and computer science fields – said at a “Competing with Urban Markets for Top Tech Talent”

ABOVE: Employees meet at the downtown office of Wilmington-based Apiture, which provides full health care coverage to its workers. OPPOSITE PAGE: tekMountain Brewing is a private brewery and taproom where CastleBranch employees and tekMountain members can attend networking events and happy hours.


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event held by NC TECH Association in December that they too find it challenging to hire workers for their companies. “(nCino) brings people to Wilmington to work,” Jill Harrington, director of recruiting at the banking software company, said at the event. “One of the big challenges we have as a company is actually physically getting people to relocate to Wilmington. We have maybe 20 (people in) remote workforce, and they’re in sales – things that make sense for them to be really close to a customer – but every software developer, every data integrations person, they move to Wilmington, they make good money, they put that money back into the community.” While hiring tech talent has been a challenge for some companies nationally, Wilmington tech businesses have been implementing benefits and highlighting the region’s features to try and attract and maintain talent in the Cape Fear region. CastleBranch, a background screening and compliance management firm with about 370 employees, moved to its current Wilmington headquarters facility in 2014, encouraged by incentives it received from the city, New Hanover County and the state to remain and expand in Wilmington. “When CastleBranch expanded its headquarters in 2014, we did it knowing that local tech talent was often graduating then moving to accept jobs outside the region,” said Lauren Henderson, chief financial officer with CastleBranch and president of tekMountain. “We knew we had the opportunity to attract talent and keep them here.” Among some of the perks CastleBranch provides are an on-site AstroTurf gym, microbrewery, recreation rooms, communal garden, free surfing and paddleboard lessons and a monthly company celebration to recognize milestones. “Any time a prospective employee interviews with us, we realize they may have a choice between us and another tech company,” Henderson said. “When

they come to our campus, they see the perks we offer, like a relaxed dress code and comprehensive benefits.” One Wilmington feature that is attractive to potential recruits is the lifestyle it provides, Henderson said. “No one can deny that living close to the beach is attractive,” she said. “Recruits love the quality of life here, that they can leave work and have time to run the loop at Wrightsville Beach or have dinner at a huge selection of excellent restaurants nearby.”

The company, which has about 550 employees locally, offers a comprehensive benefits package to every full-time employee from the day he or she starts that includes 100% premium paid health benefits, a 401(k) plan and life insurance, Harrington said. nCino also has a casual dress code, recreation rooms with Ping-Pong tables, free snacks, discounted gym membership, generous paid vacation time and opportunities for career growth, she said.

PHOTO C/O TEKMOUNTAIN

Another Wilmington-based tech company that identified the city’s standard of living as an advantage for hiring talent is nCino, a company that spun-off from Live Oak Bank. “Wilmington has many of the perks of a big city but still maintains its small-town feel, making it a great place to start a career in tech, raise a family or anything in between,” Harrington said. “The lifestyle is very appealing to many recruits; the beaches, relatively low cost of living, climate and the city’s reputation as an emerging technology hub are major draws.” nCino seems to have garnered the attention of those seeking work, receiving 1,500 applications every quarter.

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

American Banker named nCino the No. 1 fintech to work for in the country, citing its employee perks as well as its quarterly awards recognizing employees. Harrington said nCino competes not only with the state’s larger cities such as Raleigh and Charlotte for tech talent, but also with national tech hubs in cities such as Austin, Texas; San Francisco and Boston. Apiture, another Wilmington-based company that develops tools for online and mobile financial transitions, was also named on that list as one of the best fintechs to work for, coming in at No. 24. The company was recognized for its 100% health coverage and weekly happy hour on Fridays. “We work really hard to be a place FA L L 2019

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where people want to work,” said Chris Cox, president and CEO of Apiture. “It starts with our culture. We’ve got a great culture, a small-company feel focused on changing the market for financial technology. We’ve got really great employee benefits. So we believe that if we take care of our employees that they’ll take care of our customers.” Cox said the talent Apiture is looking for comes from all the major tech hotspots around the country, including Raleigh, Austin, Silicon Valley and Boston. “Because this is a smaller town, and it probably doesn’t come top of mind for software engineers as they’re thinking about places where they want to build their careers, it maybe takes a little bit longer for us to recruit software engineers,” Cox said. “But once they understand the opportunities at Apiture, once they understand the great things that are happening here in terms of momentum and technology businesses – fintech’s growing in the Wilmington scene – we can recruit within that context.” These local tech companies are a recent emergence in Wilmington; Apiture was founded in 2017. The growth of tech companies in the area mirrors that of the country. The technology industry is an important part of the United States economy, making up about 10% of all jobs in the country in 2016, but contributing 16% of goods and services produced that year among all industries, according to a 2018 report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The tech industry also provides higher wages for all types of occupations; median wages are higher for those in high-tech industries than they are for those in non-high-tech industries. High-tech is defined by the BLS as businesses with a high concentration of workers in STEM. Despite the high productivity levels of the tech industry and the higherthan-average wages that the industry provides, tech companies naturally have been finding it hard to recruit workers. That is because there are more jobs open

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One perk nCino provides its employees is free paddleboarding and surfing lessons before the start of the work day.

PHOTO C/O NCINO

N O ON E CA N DEN Y TH AT L IVIN G C LOSE TO TH E BEAC H IS ATTR ACTIVE. R E C R UITS LOVE TH E Q UAL ITY OF L IFE H ER E, TH AT TH EY CA N L EAVE W O R K A N D H AVE TIME TO R UN TH E LOOP AT W R I GH TSVIL L E BEAC H O R H AVE DIN N ER AT A H U G E SEL ECTION O F E XC EL L EN T R E STAUR A N TS N EA R BY. LAUREN HENDERSON chief financial officer CastleBranch

than workers looking to fill them, said Brooks Raiford, CEO and president with NC TECH Association. “Everyone has a difficult time because demand exceeds supply in most tech hubs like North Carolina,” Raiford said. “However, companies continue to expand, move here and grow here because they feel that the talent pool is strong.” What makes it strong is what Raiford refers to as the “triple play,” a

M A G A Z I N E

pool made up of graduates from one of the many universities in the state with tech degrees, existing talent that is available to be retrained and talent from other states that want to relocate to North Carolina because of its lower cost of living and access to mountains and beaches. According to a report by CompTIA, a nonprofit that issues IT certifications that surveyed 916 IT professionals, the most influential economic factor tech workers consider when choosing a place to live is cost of living. Wilmington’s cost of living, as measured by the ACCRA Cost of Living Index for the third quarter of 2018, is lower than the U.S. average and cheaper than that of Charlotte; Asheville; Charleston, South Carolina; and Washington, D.C., but more expensive than Raleigh and Norfolk, Virginia. While cost of living is an important consideration for workers, salaries give people more purchasing power, helping to offset costs. The average salary for computer and mathematical occupations in the Wilmington metro area, which include positions such as computer programmers and software developers, was $72,210 with about 2,830 employed in 2018, according to a yearly BLS report. In Raleigh, which had a lower cost of living than Wilmington, the average salary for computer and mathematical occupations was $91,680 with 35,840 employed.


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Cox said that while Apiture doesn’t look at state benchmarks for salaries, it seeks to pay competitively. “If we’re going to attract the best people, we have to provide competitive compensation,” Cox said. “We focus on what compensation we have to provide to get the best people at our company.” One of the things Wilmington has going for it is the University of North Carolina Wilmington and Cape Fear Community College from which Apiture recruits for different positions, Cox said. From 2015 to 2018, UNCW has had 156 graduates with bachelor’s degrees in computer science and 106 with bachelor’s degrees in IT. Although UNCW doesn’t track where its students end up working after they graduate, according to a 2017-18 graduate survey, 94% of IT graduates and 81% of computer science graduates were employed, some of the highest rates among majors. CastleBranch and nCino also recruit students from UNCW. While some of the benefits they offer their emplyees might be similar and others different, Apiture, nCino and CastleBranch agree on one thing: Wilmington is emerging as a tech center. “Wilmington is already in the process of becoming a tech hub. We’re seeing this happen now,” Henderson said. “Particularly during the last two years, Wilmington has seen rapid growth in the tech industry. Wilmington is currently the home of some of the fastest-growing and strongest tech startups in the state, and these companies attract top tech talent.” The city also benefits from the tech companies that are housed here and its employees. “The way that I think about it is as companies like Apiture and similar companies establish a presence in Wilmington, we create more opportunities for tech talent,” Cox said. “More opportunities mean more talent in town, more talent in town means more opportunities; it’s a virtuous cycle. We’re part of this new and emerging tech scene right here in Wilmington that people want to be a part of.” 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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We’ve Got You Covered Any way you look at it, Federated has your business insurance needs covered. Offering the security of property, liability, and IRAs, your local Federated Michael Brock Darrin Cunningham marketing representative will help you custom-design Sr. Risk Appraiser Sr. Risk Consultant the right insurance plan for your business. Call today for a consultation concerning your coverage needs. Federated Mutual Insurance Company • Federated Service Insurance Company* Federated Life Insurance Company • Federated Reserve Insurance Company* • Granite Re, Inc.*† *Not licensed in all states. †Granite Re, Inc. conducts business in California as Granite Surety Insurance Company. PPT-123 Ed. 6/19 | federatedinsurance.com | © 2019 Federated Mutual Insurance Company AB-123 Ed. 4/17

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THE TAKEAWAY

LIGHTS CAMERA AC T I O N Crew members for Hulu’s Reprisal are shown working on Castle Street this summer. The drama series was given the green light to film nine episodes after the pilot was shot in Wilmington last year. DC Universe’s Swamp Thing and independent film Uncle Frank also brought jobs to the area this year. Though Swamp Thing was not picked up for a second season, more action is slated for Wilmington’s film industry with Halloween Kills, a sequel to the popular horror film Halloween released last year, that began shooting in September. PHOTO BY MICHAEL CLINE SPENCER

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Profile for WilmBiz

WilmingtonBiz Magazine - Fall 2019  

The fall issue of WilmingtonBiz Magazine, a publication of the Greater Wilmington Business Journal, focuses on economic development and inno...

WilmingtonBiz Magazine - Fall 2019  

The fall issue of WilmingtonBiz Magazine, a publication of the Greater Wilmington Business Journal, focuses on economic development and inno...

Profile for wilmbiz