December 2021 WilmingtonBiz Magazine

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Wilmington B iz M A G A Z I N E

JOB MAKERS

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WilmingtonBiz 100 members Natalie English, Tracey Newkirk and Holly Childs head up new business expansion plans

Published by

Greater Wilmington

BUSINESS JOURNAL

WINTER 2021


EDUCATIONAL • OFFICE • INDUSTRIAL RETAIL • MULTI-FAMILY • HEALTHCARE

HIGH PERFORMANCE SERVICE THROUGH A HIGH PERFORMANCE CULTURE

Pictured: Ken Dull, President of Mckinley Building Corporation at “A Day in the Country” an event to support the good work of The Harrelson Center.

(910) 395-6036 | MCKINLEYBUILDING.COM BUILDING ON A STRONG FOUNDATION FOR OVER 29 YEARS


“Being able to pick up a phone, any time of day, and talk to a person is what makes Southern Bank special to me.“ Dr. Robert Plage Plage Dentistry

We’re big on small business. We help small and mid-sized businesses become bigger businesses. That’s what we do. While the mega banks focus on the mega corporations, we see the value in building our local businesses. How do we do it? With mega service. And with all the tools and expertise every business needs to succeed. Visit us in Mayfaire Office III, or give us a call and we’ll bring the bank to you.

Colleen Hattingh, Lenny Smith, Paul McCombie, Leon Pruzan Mayfaire Office III 6752 Rock Spring Rd. 910.256.3657

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SPENCE BROADHURST & HANNAH GAGE Bill Cameron BRIAN CLARK Brian Eckel NATALIE ENGLISH

Huntley Garriott MICHELE HOLBROOK

Chip Mahan TIM MILAM JIM MORTON PIERRE Jose Sartarelli SHELBOURN STEVENS Jason Thompson

RUSS LOPATKA NAUDÉ

Neil Underwood TREY WALLACE Jay Wileman CHRIS BONEY CAPT. TERRY

Patrick Brien Rob Burrus Wes Carter Holly Childs Chris

BRAGG

Coudriet STEPHEN DEBIASI KEN DULL ERIN EASTON CHARLES WILMINGTONBIZ 100 FOUST ANNE GARDNER

Donna Girardot

JOHNNY GRIFFIN Kenneth Halanych

POWER Kim Hufham MIKE KOZLOSKY WAYNE LABAR25Ryan P L ALegg Y E R S Michael

Lopez

DAVID MICHAEL

MORAN

John Monteith

INNOVATORS 49 Padgett Tracey & Girard Newkirk Laura

Parker Chad Paul CHRIS RAMM

Smith

Cameron N F L U E N CMICHAEL ERS 33 IMoore

Lynda Stanley

Weller-Stargell ANDREW

Chris Reid

Bill Vassar

CONNECTORS 59 SIMMONS DAVID

Marie

Gene

R I S I N G Margaret STARS CYNTHIA 67WALSH

LAURIE WHALIN Cindee Wolf LANDON ZIMMER NEAL

Chris Andrews ASH AZIZ Chris Babcock CHRISTIAN

CARDAMONE Ben Currin NICK DYER SHAWN HAYES KEITH HOLDEN Adam Hooks EMMANUEL IBARRA JEFF JAMES Danielle Mahon BRETT MARTIN Yousry Sayed NICHOLAS SMITH Dave Sweyer GEORGE TAYLOR SOLANGE “NIKKI” THOMPSON Don & Evonne

Varady RHONDA BELLAMY LAURA BROGDON-PRIMAVERA Chakema Clinton-Quintana Brenda Dixon Michealle Gady AMY GRANT Randall

Johnson ISABELA

MCWHORTER

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Shaw

LUJAN LINDA

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GUSTAVO RODEA HEATHER THOMPSON MEADE VAN PELT

Avery Washington WEBSTER BURRIER

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Jarett Gattison

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LAUREN MCKENZIE JHANIQUA PALMER Robert Parker McKay Siegel BARNES SUTTON Cierra Washington 2

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

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COVER STORY: NEW DIRECTIONS RICHARD JOHNSON'S TREE BET

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ON SET: INVESTING IN FILM WORKERS

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RESTAURANT ROUNDUP: WILMINGTON BREWING CO. LEVELS UP

ON THE COVER

82 photo by Madeline Gray

Photographer Madeline Gray met the issue’s cover sources at Common Desk, where Wilmington Downtown Inc. President and CEO Holly Childs (middle) is based. Joining Childs was Wilmington Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Natalie English and Genesis Block co-founder Tracey Newkirk. The three shared new initiatives their groups are working on around economic development.

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LETTER FROM THE EDITOR

Holiday Shopping Guide* * i n a s t i l l - p a n d e m i c , supply-chain disrupted, labor-shorted world

H

ow’s your holiday shopping going? If you’re reading this issue in mid-December with an unfinished list, it’s not necessarily time to panic. But also the global market isn’t doing you any favors right now. We’ve been talking about this since last year, when you first heard about waiting lists for cars and backorders on house paint. Your buddy shared incredulously how it took nine months to get a new couch delivered. And your brother in California posted on Facebook in early November about ominously empty shelves at the big-box store. It seemed weird how long the candy aisles took to rebound after Halloween, right? None of us should be surprised; people who were paying to the weaknesses in the supply chain system – even prepandemic – weren’t. For example, take Don Kipper and his daughter, Lily, who own Los Angeles’ oldest toy store. They began stocking up on their popular classic toys inventory earlier this year, ordering whatever and wherever they could – months before the ports logjams out west. I know because I read about them in the Los Angeles Times, while flipping through the paper on a flight home. Uh-oh, I thought at the time. That was October. And of this writing I still haven’t bought a gift yet, so who am I to judge? But here we are, Christmas morning looming and rolling the dice on our kids’ wishlists, i.e. the Amazon toy catalog dog-eared so much it’s doubled in thickness. Bezos’s no dummy; he has an end game by putting stickers in there. For my sake, and your benefit, here’s the new game plays for shopping at this point. • SHOP LOCAL: You know this, you’ve heard this and you, hopefully, already think about this. But I also know you get tempted by shopping in PJs and being greeted by a cardboard box when you get home. But take

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this chance to look at your existing, local supply chain. A pair of earrings you can hold or piece of artwork you take home is an immediate check off your list. • DO STUFF: Don’t forget experiences as gifts. Besides being Marie Kondo-approved (I would think), investing in experiences can be unique ideas. The shutdown last year put a hurt on many area attractions. A membership to CAM or aquarium gets people out of the house and, once again, directly supports local payrolls. • REDUCE, RECYCLE, REUSE: Easily reduce your holiday budget this year. “Sorry, honey, your Gronky-5000 is stuck offshore.” For those with the mostpint-sized recipients, recycle toys with neighbors – one family’s princess-castle-tripping hazard is another’s Christmas day delight. And reuse. Does anyone really remember what you got at the office white elephant last year? Let’s just say my Sriracha keychain will be making a reappearance at the party this year. On the bright side, I have not interviewed Santa yet on BizTalk, but my guess is, he owns his own transport vehicles and has a longtime workforce. So unless Rudolph demands to work remotely, we should be good. (I think our Christmas lists we mailed should be safe … or might be better to email.) Happy holidays, everyone.

VICKY JANOWSKI, EDITOR vjanowski@wilmingtonbiz.com

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CONTRIBUTORS

M A G A Z I N E

WINTER 2021 – $4.95

DARIA AMATO DARIA AMATO is a native New Yorker and graduate of the School of Visual Arts. Throughout her 30 years of experience, she has photographed a wide range of editorial, advertising, company branding and corporate clients, in addition to music, fashion, portraiture, weddings and still life. She has been recognized and awarded by the Society of Publication Designers, the American Graphic Design USA Magazine and received the Optima Design Award for best cover photography. Amato photographed WilmingtonBiz 100’s Laura Padgett on PAGE 42 and Amy Grant on PAGE 61 as well as surfboard maker Jason Meyer on PAGE 84.

Publisher Rob Kaiser

rkaiser@wilmingtonbiz.com

President

Robert Preville rpreville@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

Reporters Johanna Cano

jcano@wilmingtonbiz.com

J E N N Y CALLISON JENNY CALLISON is a former Greater Wilmington Business Journal reporter who continues as a freelancer with the Business Journal and WILMA. Before moving to Wilmington in 2011, she was a university communications director and a freelance reporter covering a variety of beats. Callison talked to film officials on PAGE 78, helped with the WilmingtonBiz 100 bios starting on PAGE 23 and profiled Wilmington Brewing Co.’s growth on PAGE 82.

Johanna F. Still jstill@wilmingtonbiz.com

Senior Account Executives Maggi Apel

mapel@wilmingtonbiz.com

Craig Snow csnow@wilmingtonbiz.com

Account Executives Courtney Barden

cbarden@wilmingtonbiz.com

Marian Welsh mwelsh@wilmingtonbiz.com

N E I L COTIAUX NEIL COTIAUX is a freelance journalist who has written for the Greater Wilmington Business Journal since 2013. His work has also appeared in various other publications and digital sites around the Southeast. He received his B.S. in political science from Ithaca College and his J.D. from the University of Richmond. He wrote about new economic development programs on PAGE 16.

Sydney Zomer szomer@wilmingtonbiz.com

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

Events Director Elizabeth Stelzenmuller

events@wilmingtonbiz.com

E v e n t s & D i g i ta l A s s i s ta n t Jamie Kleinman jkleinman@wilmingtonbiz.com

D e s i g n & M e d i a A s s i s ta n t Molly Jacques

MADELINE G R A Y MADELINE GRAY is a freelance documentary photographer based in Wilmington. With a master’s degree in photojournalism, her work is regularly featured in local and national publications. She enjoys spending time in places that are off the beaten track and collaborating to share the diverse stories found there. Gray photographed the cover as well as Holly Childs, Natalie English and Tracey Newkirk about new business initiatives on PAGE 16 as well as English for WilmingtonBiz 100 on PAGE 28. madelinegrayphoto.com and @madelinepgray on instagram

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production@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

Daria Amato, Megan Deitz, Madeline Gray, Aris Harding, Michael Cline Spencer, Terah Wilson

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To subscribe to WilmingtonBiz Magazine,visit wilmingtonbiz.com/subscribe or call 343-8600 x201. © 2021 SAJ Media LLC


B i z B ite s BEHIND THE NUMBERS

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SOUND OFF |

THE DIGEST |

C-SUITE CONVO

OVERHAUL ON TAP

Downtown’s Front Street Brewery will close during January to update the nearly 10,000-squarefoot building that dates to about 1865. That includes refinishing floors, painting, retiling and more. A WDI grant will help with façade repairs, and funds from the federal Restaurant Revitalization Fund will help with the exterior work. Front Street Brewery’s nearly 60 employees will be involved. “They’re not going to be out of work,” said Ellie Craig, sales and public relations manager for the brewery, bar and restaurant, which opened about 26 years ago. “So we’re also very cognizant of how that’s going to affect them in an already tough month for them in the Wilmington market, just because we are such a tourist-driven economy.” photo by TERAH WILSON

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BEHIND THE

NUMBERS 324,145

WILMINGTON

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BUSINESS & INDUSTRY: 4% EDUCATION & RESEARCH INSTITUTIONS: 2.9% LOCAL GOV'T: 2.4% STATE GOV'T (OTHER): 2.1% ASSOCIATION: 1.9%

SOUTHEASTERN NC

FEDERAL NONPROFIT (NON-US): ORGANIZATION: 1.5% 1%

AVERAGE HOME SALE PRICE (OCTOBER 2020 VS OCTOBER 2021)

OCT. 2020

OCT. 2021

$376,991

NEW HANOVER COUNTY

WHILE BILLIONS IN GOODS SIT ANCHORED outside the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles, six of the Port of Wilmington’s eight weekly services have been arriving on time with no scheduling difficulties. These steady routes are coming from Central and South America and Europe. Local hiccups are occurring in the Wilmington port’s two Asian trans-Pacific services, according to Brian Clark, executive director of the N.C. State Ports Authority. These routes utilize neo-panamax vessels – the largest the port is equipped to handle. “It’s not just a port issue that’s leading to these backlogs,” Clark said. “There’s so much more that goes into it: load ports, staffing levels, equipment imbalances, the overall fleet capacity.” Despite local scheduling hurdles, global supply chain disruptions might present the Port of Wilmington an opportunity to nab carriers frustrated with backlogged traffic at larger facilities, Clark said. On the East Coast, the trans-Pacific vessels typically make a first stop in New York, New Jersey or Savannah, before arriving at a secondary port like Wilmington. The Savannah port is handling 500,000 20-foot equivalent units (or TEU, which essentially represents one cargo container) each month; Wilmington’s port saw about 324,000 TEUs over the latest entire fiscal year, which ended June 30. That total set a new record for Wilmington, with container volume up 2% from fiscal year 2020. Volume is up 39% since fiscal year 2017. Container volume is on par with last fiscal year and slightly down from forecasted expectations at the Wilmington port. However, general cargo volume (goods delivered without the use of containers) is significantly on the rise, Clark said. Some of this material is likely volume that would otherwise be bound to containers, but due to a lack of equipment or space, has been reoriented. The redirection is caused in part by the global shortage of containers and vessels equipped to ship them. “There’s a lot of review in the industry,” Clark said, “as a best means to get the cargo to the endpoint.”

STATE GOV'T (NC): 8%

FEDERAL: 58.6%

SOUTHEASTERN NC

BY JOHANNA F. STILL

(2021 FISCAL YEAR)

FOUNDATION: 17.5%

PORT OF WILMINGTON TEU CONTAINER VOLUME IN FY21

WILMINGTON PORT FIELDS GLOBAL SUPPLY CHAIN DISRUPTIONS

UNCW RESEARCH FUNDING SOURCES

$437,271

VISITOR TOURISM SPENDING IN 2020

$598

MILLION PROJECTED JOB GROWTH: 2018-2028 PROFESSIONAL, SCIENTIFIC, & TECHNICAL SERVICES

HEALTH CARE & SOCIAL ASSISTANCE

CONSTRUCTION

21.7% 18.7% 17.2%

Sources: UNCW, Cape Fear Realtors, Wilmington and Beaches CVB, N.C. Department of Commerce


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BizBites

INFLATION GUESSING GAME

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HE QUANTITY THEORY OF MONEY IS DEAD! WELL, MAYBE NOT, BUT IT’S CERTAINLY NOT A FULL EXPLANATION FOR INFLATION AND THE MORE COMPLEX PROCESS HAS SOME INTERESTING IMPLICATIONS FOR SOUTHEASTERN NORTH CAROLINA. First, if the current inflation is a story all about the Fed increasing the money stock, then the 85% increase in the monetary base suggests there’s a lot more inflation to come! While economists often get lost in their equations and data, people make decisions, not the perfectly foresighted, equation-driven character, lovingly referred to as homoeconomicus. Managers, company owners and customers make pricing decisions based on their expectations of the future, not a 17th-century relationship. Economists used to think that costs and benefits drive decisions, but psychologists have disrupted the field by pointing out that it is really people’s perceptions of costs and benefits that matter. To the extent that most people believe the pandemic-related supply chain disruptions are pushing prices upward temporarily, what Atlanta Fed President Raphael Bostic descriptively calls “episodic,” inflation

A D A M J O N E S may run higher than usual but normalize as global production catches up with demand. (The Fed Chairman cryptically refers to this process as “transitory inflation.” Can’t he just say temporary?) But the longer disruptions last, and the longer inflation persists, the more people will begin to believe it is less “episodic” and more permanent. If people believe higher inflation is permanent, it may become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Traditional economists would argue that wages will adjust along with prices, and the changes will have little net effect on economic patterns following the adjustment period. But psychologists turned economists, what we now call behavioral economists, would point out, once again, that people are not homoeconomicus. For example, traditional economists would suggest that a $13 increase in the cost of a trip from Charlotte to Wilmington won’t have much of an effect on travel. But behavioral economists would suggest an 80-cent increase in the price of gasoline ($13 total trip) will have a big psychological effect on people’s travel plans. If consumers perceive prices to be increasing faster than their wages, they may well tighten their belts and

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nix the trip to the beach or the night out. Southeastern North Carolina’s economy is largely based on services catering to travelers, college students and retirees, so we are particularly exposed to the risk of belt-tightening in the face of inflation scares. Certainly the Fed’s policies are part of the story as well. But if one focuses on the price of services, rather than goods, which are more subject to supply chain disruptions, then inflation is running 3.5%; higher than recent history, but well below the headline numbers getting all the attention. We should also remember that the Fed has stated they are willing to tolerate slightly higher levels of inflation and may well be willing to wait out the current episode before undertaking drastic policies. With a little (okay, a lot) of luck, these events could serve our corner of the world very well though. If supply chains begin to normalize and goods prices including gasoline retreat, we could see wage gains for our service workers supported by visitors who feel a whole lot richer than the extra $13 in their pockets. But, and this is a big “but,” if supply chains and labor markets don’t normalize quickly, and people begin to expect prices will keep rising faster than a full-moon king tide, we may be in for a bumpy ride on the inflation front. Adam Jones is a regional economist with UNCW’s Swain Center and an associate professor of economics in UNCW’s Cameron School of Business. W I N TE R 2 0 2 1

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COUNTY’S PLAN FOR SCHOOL, COMMUNITY SAFETY

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ISTENING. THAT’S WHERE WE NEEDED TO START.

The conversation about the interwoven connection between school and community safety has been ongoing, but it was amplified even more after the shooting at New Hanover High School at the end of August. When the Board of Commissioners made a commitment to provide the necessary support to truly understand and address school and community safety, we knew it was going to take a lot of listening. This is not a simple problem with a onesize-fits-all solution. This stretches into homes, workplaces, classrooms, community gathering spaces and more. We have spoken to students. We have heard from parents, school staff and other community members. We have talked with community service providers and public safety officials on the front lines working in these situations every day. We have solicited feedback through a communitywide survey and held forums to discuss the matter in greater depth and detail. The conversation isn’t stopping. We are still listening and learning all we can to make sure every decision moving forward is deliberate and focused. But now, we must take the things we have heard and turn them into real, tangible actions. What the county staff has presented to the Board of

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C H R I S COUDRIET Commissioners is a four-tiered plan that focuses on the highest priority needs at the onset and spreads out implementation over three fiscal years. The expected total cost will come to about $37.1 million, with money coming from the American Rescue Plan ($9.3 million), fund balance ($14.4 million), escrow interest from investments ($6.1 million) and expected organic revenue growth over the next three years ($7.3 million). Funding will likely begin in April 2022 and run through June 2025, with budget amendments brought to the Board of Commissioners for review, discussion and approval as needed. The starting point for this fiscal year, based on the conversations we’ve had and the priority needs identified to address community violence, will have two focuses: threat assessment and social media monitoring and reporting; and people-centered support services. One of the more repeated topics we heard during our conversations was how things happening in the community, like bullying, were discussed on social media, but nothing was being done to address them until it was too late. On more than one occasion, the students we spoke with told us pointedly that we are blind to

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what’s happening on social media. Providing community members with a secure and confidential reporting system for threats has been labeled as a high priority. An aroundthe-clock managed call center with staff prepared to quickly assess threats will be crucial in being ahead of matters rather than responding after they have occurred. This system will not be part of the schools, 911 or law enforcement. It will be communitybased and a way for students, parents and any other resident to report issues to a safe place. In order for this to be effective, building up trust between the community and this service is critical. People must feel like their voice was not only heard but when they report something that needs to be addressed by local law enforcement or others, that the repercussions do not come back to their doorstep. Which brings us to our second need – an aggressive enhancement and expansion of what we call wraparound services. Every day, we see community groups and nonprofit organizations in our county provide valuable resources to individuals and families in need. For us, the matter is twofold: 1) How can we make sure those providers have the tools necessary to continue and grow their reach? And 2) How can we better reach and connect the individuals who should be taking advantage of the opportunities these organizations provide? To do this, we will work with these community providers to develop


BizBites an understanding of what they need to make expansion and improvement possible, then develop a hub where resource coordinators provide information and connect families to these services. The idea is simple – when looking for help, people should not struggle to find a resource if they can come to one place and be informed of what is available. Many of these groups already have a strong foothold in our community. The goal is to expand that outreach for a bigger impact and build that trust of helpful service. Additionally, the wraparound service plan includes expanding the county’s Elements and Too Good for Violence programs that have already made a major impact in the lives of kids, developing a New Hanover County program of violence interruption, similar to Durham’s Bull City United, updating facilities to provide space for these programs to operate, and bringing in additional school resource officers to targeted elementary schools to create more mentorship and learning opportunities for our young people with local law enforcement. Over the next three years, the focus would be on relationship building, the elimination of educational barriers and at-risk training and intervention. Some of the items included in these

proposed plans are a sizable expansion of the pre-K program offerings throughout the county, investments in nonprofits that were not previously identified as wraparound service providers, hiring school resource officers for all public elementary school campuses in New Hanover County, helping Cape Fear Community College provide more financial resources for students in career and technical training and more. Additionally, there will be a year-to-year review with New Hanover County Schools to identify pressing hardscape safety needs on campuses throughout the county and how to address them. As you can see, what we are proposing is expansive, but I know it has the potential to make real and lasting change in our community. We will continue to refine and adjust our plans as we move forward, listening to our community and experts in the field, to ensure we are making the best and right investments for the future of our children, the health of our families and the safety of our community. I am grateful for the candid conversations that have led us to where we are today, and that journey is not over. If anything, it is just getting started. Chris Coudriet is New Hanover County’s manager and a member of this year’s WilmingtonBiz 100 group.

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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 HOW HAVE SUPPLY CHAIN ISSUES AFFECTED YOUR BUSINESS OR PERSONAL BUYING? WHAT ITEMS ARE YOU HAVING A HARD TIME GETTING? “ABSOLUTELY. FURNITURE DELAYS, shipping delays, shipping prices are soaring.” “CAT FOOD, you go in Food Lion, Harris Teeter or Walmart & the shelves are empty!”

T W I T T E R P O L L : @ W I L M I N GT O N B I Z BALANCING ECONOMIC IMPACTS VS. NOISE IMPACTS, SHOULD COUNTY AND AIRPORT OFFICIALS LIMIT MILITARY REFUELING AND TRAINING EXERCISES AT ILM?

YES

75.8%

NO

24.2%

W I L M I N GT O N B I Z . C O M MOST READ STORIES ONLINE THIS YEAR (JAN. 1-NOV. 15) SHIP SHAPE: Rebuilding the Battleship DEVELOPER BUYS 1,137 acres in Brunswick County

NEW BREWERY (Outer Dunes Brewing) coming to Market Street DOWNTOWN RESTAURANT announces temporary closure amid staffing challenges BUILDER’S 10-YEAR plan includes up to 5,000 homes in southern Pender SIGN UP FOR DAILY NEWS UPDATES AND SUBSCRIBE TO THE GREATER WILMINGTON BUSINESS JOURNAL AT WILMINGTONBIZ.COM

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BizBites

DIGEST THE

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

RENDERING C/O ROMERO ARCHITECTURE

PROPOSAL SAVES OLD BAILEY THEATER FACADE

NCINO TO BUY SIMPLENEXUS IN $1.2B DEAL

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ilmington-based cloud banking software firm nCino Inc. plans to buy a digital mortgage platform in a transaction valued at $1.2 billion, the companies announced in November. nCino (Nasdaq: NCNO) has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire SimpleNexus for about $240 million in cash and 13.2 million shares of nCino common stock. The transaction is expected to close by the end of nCino’s fourth fiscal quarter, Jan. 31, and is subject to regulatory approvals and other closing conditions. “When we first started nCino, our mission was clear: to transform the financial services industry through innovation, reputation and speed. Today, we take another major step forward in executing on that mission

by welcoming the talented team at SimpleNexus and their best-inclass, cloud-based homeownership platform into the nCino family,” said nCino CEO Pierre Naudé (above). SimpleNexus serves more than 300 independent mortgage banks (IMBs), over 80 banks and credit unions and more than 41,000 loan originators nationwide. During the first nine months of 2021, more than 1 in every 7 mortgage originations in the U.S. leveraged SimpleNexus’ software. “The acquisition of SimpleNexus initially expands nCino’s serviceable addressable market by over $4 billion and furthers its competitive position as the single digital banking platform of choice,” according to a news release. While nCino’s portfolio of software products – all part of its basic Bank Operating System – has grown to include both lending and deposit functions for financial institutions of all sizes, this purchase gives nCino access to a new market: the various participants in retail mortgage lending.

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The owner of a landmark property in downtown Wilmington wants to incorporate its historical remnants into a new two-story commercial building. Stamatia “Nick” Saffo of Global Property Holdings and Saffo Contractors said that he’s restarted efforts to redevelop the former Bailey Theater property, 20 N. Front St., that his company bought in 2017. The theater was built in 1942 and demolished in the 1980s, except for the facade. In recent years, the art moderne facade was also in danger of being demolished. But in the latest plan, the facade would be incorporated into a building with three retail spaces, a restaurant space and a potential rooftop use, such as a bar, gym or coffee shop, said Saffo, who is Wilmington Mayor Bill Saffo’s brother. Nick Saffo said his brother is not involved in the project. The Bailey proposal also includes installing a simulated Bailey movie theater marquee like the one that graced the theater in its heyday.

$160 million

COST OF CSX’S NEW CAROLINA CONNECTOR THAT WILMINGTON’S PORT CONNECTS TO BY RAIL


BizBites

C-SUITE C O N V O

SENIOR LIVING TRENDS

A

FTER SERVING AS PLANTATION VILLAGE’S EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR FOR SEVEN YEARS, INCLUDING SEEING THE LIFE PLAN COMMUNITY IN PORTERS NECK THROUGH THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC, ZANE BENNETT BECAME DIRECTOR OF BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT FOR LIFE CARE SERVICES IN OCTOBER. Iowa-based Life Care Services works with more than 140 senior living communities nationally including Plantation Village. The communities it manages range from rentals to Life Plan Communities and cover more than 35,000 seniors. Life Care Services has been the management partner for Plantation Village since it opened in 1988. Life Care Services became the first senior living company to rank first in customer satisfaction for three consecutive years among independent senior living communities in the J.D. Power 2021-Senior Living Satisfaction Study. Below is an excerpt from a recent Q&A with Bennett, who still lives in Wilmington. To read more, go to wilmingtonbizmagazine.com. WHAT TRENDS ARE YOU SEEING AHEAD IN THE LIFE PLAN COMMUNITIES SECTOR?

“We are seeing a lot of boards, owners and executive teams

BY VICKY JANOWSKI

ZANE BENNETT

DIRECTOR OF BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT, LCS

taking an in-depth look at their strategic plan. Given the impacts of COVID-19, an ongoing labor crisis and increased complexity in the space, a lot of leaders are realizing that their strategy plan that was crafted twoplus years ago is no longer relevant. Some will grow their organizations by diversifying their revenue sources while others will look to divest business lines and right-size their operations to focus on core competencies. COVID-19 served as a clear tipping point for our industry and staying in idle will not be an option for longterm success.” WHAT WERE SOME OF THE BIGGEST LESSONS YOU TOOK AWAY FROM YOUR TIME AS PLANTATION VILLAGE’S EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR?

“It is an understatement to say that I learned a lot during my time at Plantation Village. During those seven years, we evacuated residents for two hurricanes and sheltered in place

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for two others. We finished a large expansion and will break ground on a new one in December, and we can’t forget the global pandemic. So, biggest lessons learned: • Get comfortable with being uncomfortable. • Start with the desired end result and then work backwards to fill in details – it makes decision-making so much clearer for you and teammates, i.e. ‘Keep residents safe from the hurricane.’ or ‘Don’t lose a single resident or associate to COVID-19.’ • Countless life lessons, thoughtprovoking quotes and words of wisdom from the residents of Plantation Village – I will miss this.” DO YOU SEE LASTING INFLUENCES BECAUSE OF COVID-19 ON HOW THESE TYPES OF SENIOR LIVING COMMUNITIES ARE BUILT OR MANAGED AFTER THE PANDEMIC?

“Yes, we feel strongly that our consumers expect and deserve an experience that is informed by all the lessons learned over the last two years. Early this year, we launched EverSafe 360⁰, the latest signature experience from LCS, which reimagines the way we live and work together. Our innovative program raises the bar in overall safety for residents and staff to elevate the standard of safety for seniors. Through this evolution, we established a carefully selected Medical Advisory Board to review latest technology, innovations and sound practices within the current health care climate to help guide and direct LCS-managed communities. Our development company, LCS-Development, is now specifying

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cutting-edge air quality enhancements and reimaging how we live and work within senior living communities.” EverSafe 360⁰ tenets include air quality enhancements, advanced cleaning protocols and telemedicine technology. During the pandemic at Plantation Village, they invested more than $100,000 on new equipment to address COVID and protect residents. Those updates included items such as needlepoint bipolar ionization units to clean the air; touchless water fountains; hands-free motion detectors; touchless, self-monitoring thermometers at the community’s entry points. In January and February, Plantation Village hosted on-site vaccination clinics in partnership with Walgreens, again working with Walgreens for on-site booster vaccine clinics. AS MORE SENIORS RETIRE, WHAT DO YOU THINK THE REGION COULD DO MORE OF TO MAKE IT AN ATTRACTIVE PLACE FOR THEM?

“I think that the Master Aging Plan that the county started last year is a great start. It is important to engage older adults in the conversation as we try to make the Cape Fear region a better place to age. Intergenerational connectedness is so important, and I feel we have an opportunity to connect the generations in a more purposeful way. This could be through university or grade school collaboration, volunteer opportunities with local nonprofits or something entirely different. I don’t have the answer, but I do know that we can do more to engage one another in a mutually beneficial way.”

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HEN RIVERFRONT PARK HELD ITS GRAND OPENING ON JULY 4, THE CITY OF WILMINGTON MARKED ANOTHER MILESTONE IN ITS QUEST TO MAKE THE PORT CITY AN EVEN MORE ALLURING DESTINATION FOR VISITORS.

Six months later but with much less fanfare, civic leaders are celebrating the steady arrival of new businesses that are setting down roots as the pandemic wanes and business leaders select “Wilmington and Beaches” as their home. The region’s increasing popularity with business can be credited to any number of attributes including a comfortable climate, strong work-life balance, the availability of a skilled and knowledgeable workforce in key industries – and, behind the scenes, the hustle of a growing number of economic development professionals. For decades, Wilmington Downtown Inc., the organization that manages the city’s Municipal Services District, had an events-focused mission and produced 15 nights of concerts a year to attract more visitors. But with the Wilson Center’s emergence as a M A G A Z I N E

respected entertainment venue and the amphitheater opening this past July – not to mention live performances at downtown bars and restaurants – it didn’t make sense for WDI to continue focusing on concerts, said Holly Childs, who in January became the organization’s president and CEO. “The board made it clear that they wanted to be more directly involved in downtown transformation,” she said. “We have made a thoughtful and intentional decision this year to get out of the concert-production business and start spending our time and energy on identifying transformative downtown projects to push forward for a better downtown.” While the Port City’s Central Business District is generally defined as “bridge to bridge, river to Fourth,” Childs said, neighborhoods outside the CBD are included in DWI’s planning, and the organization’s leadership is now collaborating with other economic development players to recruit and retain businesses both inside and outside the district. The CBD, which has the same footprint as the Municipal Services District, is currently home to 487 businesses. The occupancy rate for downtown retail stands at 98.1%; office space, 96.1%. “These numbers make a further case for both new construction and adaptive reuse of space,” Childs said.


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WDI's Holly Childs (from left), Genesis Block's Tracey Newkirk and Wilmington chamber's Natalie English

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Genesis Block staff and participants

ACCELERATING INTEREST

Over the past half-year, different sets of community partners have closed deals with companies to set down roots in the Wilmington area. “In just the past six months, more than 140 new jobs have been announced with the location of three new tech companies – Litify, Grover Gaming and Suzy – and the addition of 22,000 square feet of coworking space at Common Desk has brought dozens more new employees into our downtown market,” Childs said. Suzy (market research), Litify (legaltech), Grover Gaming (programming) and Vantaca (HOA

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software) represent the latest additions to the region’s technology hub. In September, Vantaca, outside downtown on Wrightsville Avenue, announced the addition of 104 employees to its existing 100-person workforce over the next five years. Meantime, Suzy, Litify and Summit Logistics, a ground transportation firm, were recruited for space in the former Bank of America building at 319 N. Third St. Several organizations were credited for landing New York-based Suzy: Wilmington Business Development (WBD), the Wilmington Chamber of Commerce, Network for Entrepreneurs in Wilmington (NEW), UNCW’s Center for Innovation and B

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Entrepreneurship (CIE) and the Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina. “Laura BrogdonPrimavera (formerly at CIE), now with the chamber, and Jim Roberts, leader of Network for Entrepreneurs, had developed a relationship with Suzy chief technology officer William Mansfield that led to an introduction to the chamber,” chamber president and CEO Natalie English recounted. “WBD and WDI provided an assist as we provided Suzy with the information they sought to determine whether Wilmington would be the right site for their new tech hub.” “The fact that we’ve got many worthwhile organizations working

to advance our regional economy is evidence of Greater Wilmington’s potential,” said Scott Satterfield, CEO of Wilmington Business Development. “We don’t view it as an ‘us versus them’ equation. Today’s economy is complex and fast-changing. No one organization is capable of being all things to all businesses.” The Wilmington chamber has a permanent ex-officio seat on Wilmington Business Development’s board and WBD has a seat on theirs, Satterfield noted, which helps both organizations engage in strategies when pursuing prospects large and small. “Our strategy usually


puts us in front of larger, globally-minded companies because their arrival and expansion here brings new wealth from outside the region,” Satterfield said. “In turn, they feed a host of local suppliers and vendors, and their economic impact reaches well into our small-business community. The same logic works in reverse: Much of Greater Wilmington’s appeal to growth-minded corporations is that we have a vibrant small-business sector that’s capable of supplying high-quality products and services to them reliably and conveniently.”

shipping containers for commercial and residential use, has already morphed from 2,500 to 4,000 square feet at the site and plans on expanding to 14,000 square feet. The firm was WDI’s first recipient under a microloan program inaugurated in April. Seven blocks away from Craftspace, another

AN EXPANDING DOWNTOWN

for-profit company hopes to spread its wings at 1110 Castle St., the former site of WAVE Transit. Genesis Block, which opened its downtown headquarters at 20 Wrights Aly last year, views the 8,800-square-foot space in the historically underserved neighborhood as an initial steppingstone in a plan to

create business incubators throughout Southeastern North Carolina. Led by Girard and Tracey Newkirk, the firm offers services such as technical assistance, skills training, mentorship, networking and access to capital to young companies. The Newkirks believe an innovation

Nick Boccabella, Coast Capital Partners (from left), and Andy Hewitt and Sandy Thorpe, Parastream Development, are shown inside the former Coca-Cola bottling plant on Princess Street that they bought as part of a 7-acre deal to revitalize the properties.

With strong occupancy rates in the CBD and an economy now healing from the pandemic, business recruiters are casting an eye on available sites in nearby neighborhoods. The Soda Pop and Castle Street districts are two that could be on the cusp of sustainable commercial growth. In October, Parastream Development unveiled plans to add manufacturing, retail and residential space in buildings located within 7.8 acres that it purchased along Princess Street. The anchor building, the former Coca-Cola bottling facility at 921 Princess St., will be converted to urban flex space that offers tenants the ability to manufacture goods but also have office or showroom space. Craftspace, a locally owned firm that repurposes 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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Craftspace cofounders Bryan Kristof and Gregg Howell

corridor on Castle Street will be “a hub for small businesses, innovation and entrepreneurship training in the center of Castle Street in an inclusive mixed-use development.” Their goals for the proposed campus, dubbed Genesis Innovation Neighborhood at Castle, include servicing 75 companies a year, generating over 50 new jobs annually, generating $10 million in economic activity in the corridor and providing flexible housing, “which will make our residences inclusive and affordable,” Girard Newkirk said. The Newkirks said an innovation corridor on Castle Street also will provide multiple food entrepreneurs with low-cost entry into the marketplace using a food hall, and without being burdened by

the overhead of outfitting a kitchen. “This model lowers the cost for food entrepreneurs to launch and grow their businesses,” Tracey Newkirk said, adding that 20% of Genesis Block’s clients are food companies and are already interested in the Castle Street concept. Girard Newkirk said their strategy is building block by block. “With that we want GB (Genesis Block) throughout the community,” he said. “We will maintain our downtown campus to serve the exploding downtown population. Ultimately, we build entrepreneur communities, and we provide coworking, entrepreneur training, technology solutions and now flexible housing to support this movement to build the entrepreneur class.”

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GROWING SMALL BUSINESS

As the area’s economic development players continue to chase new business, Wilmington Downtown Incorporated and the Wilmington chamber have added staff members who will focus on retaining existing businesses. The chamber has named Josh Hallingse as vice president of small business development and business retention. Hallingse, who previously was executive director of the Transylvania Economic Alliance in Brevard, started Nov. 1. “Josh’s work will focus on retention and expansion of existing smaller businesses and assisting smaller business owners with locating here,” English said.

That position is new for the chamber and is supported in part by $181,000 in funding this year from New Hanover County’s economic development budget. It was the first of three years of funding the county set aside for the chamber’s new small business retention, expansion and recruitment initiative. Christina Haley, who joined DWI in September as its business outreach representative, will visit business and property owners this winter to gather data on the health of the downtown economy. WDI has partnered with Peer, a local tech startup, on an app and software that will gather and track data as Haley meets with all 487 businesses in the services district. WDI plans to update the data annually. “I envision Josh and Christina working together similarly to ensure there is no redundancy or duplication,” English said. “Christina will focus on downtown businesses, and Josh will focus on businesses outside the downtown area.” “We need to be aware of what each other is doing and be knowledgeable about the assets and expertise we all bring to the table,” Satterfield said. “That begins with an acknowledgment that our regional economy isn’t a monolith. It’s a tapestry. And it ultimately requires leadership and expertise from a number of committed players working vigorously toward common goals.” W I N TE R 2 0 2 1

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DETERMINING THE 100 The WilmingtonBiz 100 is an annual Greater Wilmington Business Journal initiative to recognize the top 100 Power Players, Influencers, Innovators, Connectors and Rising Stars impacting Southeastern North Carolina’s business landscape. Those included in this year’s group were announced in October, but on the following pages you can read a little more about why they were picked. Readers sent in names to consider during a nomination process, and the Business Journal’s editorial team selected the WilmingtonBiz 100. We’ll do nominations again next year for the annual issue.

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POWER PLAYERS INFLUENCERS INNOVATORS CONNECTORS RISING STARS

To be considered, individuals had to either work or live in the region. Elected officials and individuals at the primary economic development agencies weren’t considered because of their clear influence on business in our region. – Compiled by Jenny Callison, Johanna Cano, Vicky Janowski, Cece Nunn, Johanna F. Still

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W I L M I N GTO N B I Z 1 0 0 P O W E R P L AY E R S

POWER PLAYERS THE

THE BUSINESSPEOPLE AND OFFICIALS HAVING THE GREATEST IMPACT ON THE REGION’S BUSINESS AND ECONOMIC LANDSCAPE

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W I L M I N GTO N B I Z 1 0 0 P O W E R P L AY E R S

SPENCE BROADHURST & HANNAH GAGE

safety; and community development. Because of the endowment’s size, officials have said the funding has the potential to impact New Hanover County for generations.

CHAIR & VICE CHAIR, NEW HANOVER COMMUNITY ENDOWMENT

pence Broadhurst is

of the Eastern Spresident North Carolina region for

First National Bank. A former mayor of Wilmington (200306), he also previously served as N.C. Banking Commission commissioner. Broadhurst served as co-chair of the Partnership Advisory Group, a 21-member group that last year weighed the future of NHRMC and ultimately voted unanimously to recommend selling the local health system to Winston-Salembased Novant Health. Hannah Dawson Gage also served on the Partnership Advisory Group last year. Gage, a retired media executive and former owner of Cape Fear Broadcasting, served on the UNC Board of Governors for 16 years including as chair. She also has served as chair of the UNCW Board of Trustees.

WHY THEY’RE POWER PLAYERS: Broadhurst and

Gage were named to head up the $1.29-billion community foundation established from the sale of the county-owned NHRMC. This year, they, and the others on the 13-member board, have been responsible for creating the endowment’s governance structure, including adopting bylaws, creating an initial investment policy, and developing a long-range investment strategy for the funds. They launched a national search for a president and CEO intending to hire someone by the end of the year. After the president is in place and a strategic plan developed, the idea is to start issuing grants to organizations that focus on public education (cradle to college); health and health equity; community

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the International Commerce Center at the International Logistics Park in Brunswick County.

FIRST OF MANY: The

International Commerce Center is the first development taking place in the logistics park, and the first tenants announced for the building are Tri-Tech Forensics and Precision Swiss Products Inc.

cargo volume is up as shippers adjust to moving goods without the large containers.

WHAT’S NEXT: Clark is leading a

container terminal master plan aimed at increasing the capacity of the Port of Wilmington. And the proposal to deepen the navigation channel from 42 feet to 47 feet to attract larger ships continues to be a long-term goal, but one that must still be studied and funded.

BILL CAMERON CO-FOUNDER & PRESIDENT CAMERON MANAGEMENT INC.

ill Cameron’s investment

company Bmanagement focuses on real estate

development, brokerage and property management, and he and his family have a long history of both shaping the region with development and serving the community.

WHY HE’S A POWER PLAYER:

Cameron is a member of the New Hanover Community Endowment board, formed by the sale of the county-owned New Hanover Regional Medical Center to Novant Health. He was a founding member and director of Port City Capital Bank and director of Crescent State Bank following its acquisition of Port City Capital Bank in 2006. Cameron currently serves on the board of directors for Live Oak Bancshares, Cape Fear Memorial Foundation and Champion McDowell Davis Foundation. Cameron has previously served on the board of directors of the UNC Health Care System, Wilmington Chamber of Commerce and Cape Fear Memorial Hospital, among many others. He is also past president of the N.C. Azalea Festival and has served as a deacon and elder for St. Andrews-Covenant Presbyterian Church. The impact of Cameron’s family on the area extends back before the Civil War and is evident in the region today. Recent Cameron developments include shopping and entertainment center The Pointe at Barclay in midtown Wilmington and B

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BRIAN CLARK EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, N.C. PORTS

rian Clark became

director of the Bexecutive N.C. State Ports Authority in January 2021.

WHY HE’S A POWER PLAYER:

The Port of Wilmington, with Clark at the helm, continued to see significant investment this year in its infrastructure. Cold storage in particular was a focus. In August, the N.C. Ports Authority board approved a 30-year lease agreement with Cold Summit Development to bring 460,000 square feet of cold-storage space in two buildings off Raleigh Street. The Port of Wilmington finished a new refrigerated container yard last year, boosting the port’s on-terminal refrigerated container plugs from 235 to 775 in the $14 million construction project. The ports authority will invest another $19 million to further expand the refrigerated container yard next year. 2021 was a record year for refrigerated cargo at the port, officials said, and container volume was up for the 2021 fiscal year compared to the year before. Global supply chain disruptions and labor shortages have impacted ports nationwide this fall, including two of the Asian trans-Pacific services that stop at Wilmington’s port. Because the facilities are less congested than larger ports, Wilmington is in a position to attract additional shippers, Clark said, adding that general

HUNTLEY GARRIOTT PRESIDENT, LIVE OAK BANK

untley Garriott was

president of Happointed Live Oak Bank in 2018.

He previously had a more than 20-year career at Goldman Sachs, where he was a partner in the firm’s investment banking division and served as co-head of its banks and specialty finance team within the financial institutions group.

WHY HE’S A POWER PLAYER:

Garriott is president of the largest SBA 7(a) lender in the U.S., and small-business activity remains robust for the Wilmington-based bank. It originated over $1 billion in loans in each of the past two quarters. Since Garriott joined Live Oak, the company’s balance sheet has more than doubled to $8 billion in assets. In August, Live Oak converted more than 60,000 Live Oak Bank retail and commercial deposit customers from its legacy core system to the Finxact cloud-based core. Locally, Live Oak plans to soon launch an inclusive small business resource center downtown. The center is intended to provide educational resources and tools to small business owners who have traditionally been underserved. Also locally, in February, Live Oak announced a $2.5

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BRIAN ECKEL

PARTNER, CAPE FEAR COMMERCIAL/GHK CAPE FEAR DEVELOPMENT; NOVANT HEALTH BOARD OF TRUSTEES MEMBER rian Eckel co-founded Cape

Commercial with Vin BFear Wells in 2001 and has had a

major impact on the commercial real estate industry, development and the local business community. He serves on numerous high-profile boards, including the Novant Health Board of Trustees.

WHY HE’S A POWER PLAYER:

Eckel and his companies are guiding major development projects in the Wilmington area and beyond, including the redevelopment of the New Hanover County Government Center, creating a 130,000-squarefoot office building with a new emergency operations center and 280 apartments. Other projects include commercial space and apartments at Autumn Hall, a master-planned community on Eastwood Road; the 192-unit Renaissance Apartments on Military Cutoff Road; 206-unit Riverwood at Echo Farms; and a mixed-use project called The Proximity in the planning stages for Carolina Beach, among many others. His development firm has more than 2,000 other apartment units in pre-development. In addition to the Novant Health parent board, Eckel completed a full term with the Wilmington Chamber of Commerce board and currently serves on the boards of the Wilmington-Cape Fear Home Builders Association; Business Alliance for a Sound Economy; and the Coastal Region Novant Health. He served as an NHRMC Board of Trustees member for six years. NHRMC was sold in 2021 to Novant Health.

COMPANY NUMBERS: Cape Fear

Commercial has a sales/leasing volume of more than $2 billion and manages over 3 million square feet. PHOTO BY ARIS HARDING

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W I L M I N GTO N B I Z 1 0 0 P O W E R P L AY E R S firm in Wilmington as a process engineer in 2001. He leads a local workforce of about 1,000 employees.

CONTINUED FROM p26 million investment with Cape Fear Collective to support affordable housing solutions in the region, with plans to expand the program locally and eventually statewide.

WHY HE’S A POWER PLAYER: In

NUMBER OF EMPLOYEES: 722

PHOTO BY MADELINE GRAY

MICHELE HOLBROOK

NATALIE ENGLISH

CAPITAL PROGRAM MANAGER, CORNING INCORPORATED

PRESIDENT & CEO, WILMINGTON CHAMBER OF COMMERCE

reviously Corning’s Wilmington plant manager, Michele Holbrook now serves in a broader role for the company. As capital program manager, she is responsible for the delivery of all major capacity expansions across Corning’s optical fiber and cable division.

P

ith over 20 years of experience in chamber of commerce

Natalie English plays a key role in fostering Wleadership, economic development successes in Wilmington. English

previously served as the chief public policy officer for the Charlotte Chamber of Commerce before joining the Wilmington Chamber of Commerce in 2017.

WHY SHE’S A POWER PLAYER: English helped spearhead a $4.5 million hospitality, retail and service industry grant program financed by American Rescue Plan funding, allotted to both the city of Wilmington and New Hanover County. A total of 192 local businesses received grants, ranging from $10,000 to $50,000, which the chamber administered. ARP dollars were also attributed to another effort English advocated for developing a Small Business, Retention, Expansion & Recruitment program, designed to target businesses with fewer than 25 employees. This program was funded by New Hanover County. She recently hired Josh Hallingse to head up the new initiative. English also supported the creation of an apprenticeship program in June, partnering with New Hanover County, Cape Fear Community College and CastleBranch.

WHY SHE’S A POWER PLAYER:

Holbrook plays a key role with Corning as the New York-based company sees national demand for fiber-based broadband service continue to increase for homes and businesses. In the Wilmington area, Holbrook has been a visible voice on business and community issues during 2021. This year, she chaired the Wilmington Chamber of Commerce’s board, which set policies and established goals to support business growth. Part of that work included coming up with innovative ways for chamber members to connect and engage during the changing conditions of the coronavirus pandemic. Other chamber board efforts this year included expanding on the chamber’s talent pipeline management work begun in 2020 and joining the NC Chamber’s Destination 2030 Transportation Coalition. That group is urging the N.C. Department of Transportation and state officials to explore and implement new funding mechanisms that could raise the funds necessary

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Lopatka’s second year heading up Corning’s Wilmington plant, he continued to see the demands of optical communications connectivity during the pandemic’s shift in work and school. Corning’s optical communications division focuses on innovating to increase the speed and capacity of optical networks, helping network operators upgrade their infrastructure as usage increases. The Wilmington facility makes the optical fiber needed to respond to the increased demand. In June, the company introduced Corning SMF-28 Contour fiber, an innovation developed in Wilmington. The fiber, the manufacturer says, brings something new to the market because of its combination of bend resilience, compatibility and low loss characteristics. It is designed to help telecommunications operators address the ever-expanding number of connected devices, the build-out of 5G networks and advances in cloud computing.

WORKFORCE TRAINING:

Corning established a coop program through Cape Fear Community College to provide hands-on experiences and career opportunities to students.

MEMBERSHIP ROSTER: Over 100 new members joined the chamber so far this year.

to accelerate much-needed transportation projects. Beyond the chamber, Holbrook also sits on the 13-member New Hanover Community Endowment board – the group that spent this year laying the groundwork for how the foundation will operate. Members eventually will have a say in how grants start being dispersed locally from the $1.29 billion endowment.

AWARD WINNER: Holbrook

received Corning Incorporated’s 2021 Excellence in Volunteerism award. B

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CHIP MAHAN CHAIRMAN & CEO, LIVE OAK BANK

RUSS LOPATKA WILMINGTON PLANT MANAGER, CORNING INCORPORATED

uss Lopatka took on the

of plant manager of Rrole Wilmington’s optical fiber manufacturing facility in 2019. He began his career with the

ive Oak Bank, a subsidiary

Oak Bancshares, LofwasLivefounded in 2008

by James “Chip” Mahan in Wilmington. He is also the cofounder of Wilmington-based banking technology firms nCino and Apiture.

WHY HE’S A POWER PLAYER:

Since starting Live Oak – now


W I L M I N GTO N B I Z 1 0 0 P O W E R P L AY E R S the nation’s largest SBA 7(a) lender – in Wilmington, Mahan has continued to have a hand in a growing portfolio of fintech companies – many of them growing their bases in the Port City. Mahan serves on several fintech and financial services boards including Apiture and Finxact. He is also a managing partner at Canapi, a fintech venture capital fund. In August, Live Oak – which has no bank branches – converted more than 60,000 Live Oak Bank deposit customers from its legacy core system to the Finxact cloudbased core. Live Oak started efforts on a new core banking system five years ago when Mahan and other banking leaders asked Finxact founders to create a core-as-a-service platform that allows banks to seamlessly make changes to products and services. Live Oak Bank in 2021 (through the fiscal year ending Sept. 30) made $2.3 billion in loans through the Small Business Administration 7(a) loan program.

The UNC Board of Governors also appointed Mahan this year to the UNCW Board of Trustees to serve a four-year term.

NUMBER OF EMPLOYEES: About 720

TIM MILAM CEO, COLDWELL BANKER SEA COAST ADVANTAGE

im Milam leads one of the largest residential real estate firms in the region and state. He has grown Coldwell Banker Sea Coast Advantage, which was founded in Wilmington in 1988, to 22 offices that cover Southeastern North Carolina down to Georgetown, South Carolina.

T

WHY HE’S A POWER PLAYER: As the residential real estate market continues to break

records, even in the midst of a global pandemic, Milam’s company is expanding and breaking its own records. As of early November, the firm had surpassed $2 billion in sales for the third year in a row and was on track to reach $3 billion. Milam transitioned to CEO in 2021 after serving as president, a position now held by Denise Kinney. In Milam’s new role, he focuses on big picture projects and ongoing company growth. Some of his and his company’s recent accomplishments include merging with Coldwell Banker Alliance and opening new offices in the Brunswick County towns of Boiling Spring Lakes and St. James, as well as in Emerald Isle in Carteret County. Milam serves on the boards of Wilmington Business Development, Business Alliance for a Sound Economy and the Wilmington-Cape Fear Home Builders Association. His charitable work includes being a founding member of New Hanover

Scholars, a nonprofit providing financial resources to local high school students from historically marginalized communities.

NUMBER OF EMPLOYEES: 815

real estate agents and 70 staff members

JIM MORTON PRESIDENT, CFCC

ape Fear Community

President Jim CCollege Morton was named to the community college’s top spot in 2018 after serving as EVP and vice president for business and financial services.

WHY HE’S A POWER PLAYER:

CFCC is growing, adding and expanding a suite of apprenticeship programs under Morton’s watch, designed to fit the needs of the area’s business

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W I L M I N GTO N B I Z 1 0 0 P O W E R P L AY E R S

JOSE SARTARELLI CHANCELLOR, UNCW

ose Sartarelli took the reins of UNCW in 2015 after

as West Virginia University’s chief global Jserving officer and Milan Puskar Dean of the College of

Business and Economics. After six years at the helm, Sartarelli announced in September his plan to retire at UNCW, which will take effect in June 2022. Sartarelli spent three decades in the international pharmaceutical industry prior to transitioning to higher education.

WHY HE’S A POWER PLAYER: Sartarelli has grown the university’s enrollment 24% since taking the role. The fall 2021 semester welcomed 18,031 students, the highest in university history. Graduate student enrollment ballooned by 121% under Saraterelli, with 3,542 students enrolled in fall 2021. This enrollment growth was the largest volume of growth across the entire UNC System. Over the past few years, UNCW has undertaken a series of construction projects totaling $450 million to expand the campus to add or restore 23 buildings, four parking lots and more. When Sarterelli joined UNCW, just 19 Fortune 500 companies recruited new employees from UNCW; more than 100 of these companies now reach into the UNCW talent pool. In February, he helped oversee Like No Other: The Campaign for UNCW, a fundraising endeavor that has raised over $90 million in philanthropic support to boost scholarships, professorships and other university programs. Under his leadership, the chancellor helped usher in the largest private philanthropic gift in university history: $10 million from David and Helen Congdon and $5 million from Quality Chemical Laboratories. NUMBER OF EMPLOYEES: Nearly 2,500

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community and strengthen the workforce development pipeline. HVAC; automotive systems technology; welding; diesel and heavy equipment technology; electrical; fire alarm systems training; and plumbing and pipefitting are among new or expanded programs that allow students to earn while they attend classes. The college recently shortened its truck-driver training program to streamline the education process so students can help meet existing market demand. It also added associate degree programs in graphic design, medical assisting and substance abuse tech, with a medical lab technology program planned to launch in fall 2022. Morton has overseen the renovation of the original campus building and the construction of a new electric line worker facility at the college’s North Campus. The college is actively considering adding new programs as well, targeting high-demand fields. An expansion of nursing and other health and human services programs is currently underway. As part of his role at the helm, Morton oversees CFCC’s four campuses, employees and business operations and ensures it is achieving its instructional mission. As president, he helped create a successful alumni association and drove up support for the CFCC Foundation.

including some of the largest banks such as Barclays, TD Bank, Truist and Bank of America. In September, officials announced that Wells Fargo had signed onto nCino’s Bank Operating System. In November, the firm announced it plans to buy digital mortgage platform company SimpleNexus in a deal valued at $1.2 billion. As nCino continues to look at international growth, it signed on bank customers for the first time in Germany and France. Other nCino offices are in Salt Lake City, Utah; Toronto; London; Melbourne, Australia; Sydney; and Tokyo. The Wilmington campus in the Mayfaire area is undergoing an expansion this year with a new parking garage and additional office building. The project will allow space for at least 600 more employees if needed. nCino, which went public last year, has grown from a handful of employees in the beginning to more than 1,200 people here and globally.

ON THE PITCH: In May, nCino

announced a long-term sponsorship with the city of Wilmington to help fund a new sports complex, called the nCino Sports Park, for youth sports.

NUMBER OF EMPLOYEES: 1,530

SHELBOURN STEVENS PRESIDENT, NHRMC & NOVANT HEALTH'S COASTAL MARKET

PIERRE NAUDÉ CEO, NCINO

helbourn Stevens is head of

area’s largest employer, Sthe New Hanover Regional

ierre Naudé was a key player in founding nCino, a spinoff of Live Oak Bank, in 2011. On top of his role as CEO, he is also a member of the firm’s board of directors.

Medical Center, which is now part of Novant Health, and also president of the Winston-Salem-based health system’s new Coastal Market. Stevens served as president and COO of Novant Health Brunswick Medical Center.

spent 2021 continuing to grow its footprint in the banking world as it added on more clients to its cloudbased Bank Operating System, designed to streamline processes. More than 1,200 financial institutions now use nCino

Following the sale of NHRMC to Novant Health earlier this year, Stevens moved into the president role not only for New Hanover Regional Medical Center but also Novant’s coastal market. (Previous NHRMC president and CEO John

P

WHY HE’S A POWER PLAYER: nCino

WHY HE’S A POWER PLAYER:


W I L M I N GTO N B I Z 1 0 0 P O W E R P L AY E R S Gizdic became an executive vice president and chief business development officer for Novant after the hospital sale deal closed in February.) In his role now, Stevens is responsible for the operations of New Hanover Regional. Besides NHRMC, the coastal market also includes Novant Health Brunswick Medical Center, Pender Memorial Hospital and Novant Health Coastal Market Medical Group. Working through the integration of the new Novant Health Coastal Market has been a major part of Stevens’ focus this year. In April, state regulators also approved Novant’s application to build a new 66bed hospital in the Scotts Hill area of northern New Hanover County – a project for which Stevens is overseeing the design and planning. All this has happened against the backdrop of health providers’ continued response to the COVID-19 pandemic, including the surge in cases.

NUMBER OF EMPLOYEES: 8,000

proposals from health systems to buy New Hanover Regional and ultimately vote on whether to sell it to Novant Health. After the purchase of the local health system closed in February, the hospital trustees board transitioned to a new hospital board, the Novant Health Coastal Board of Managers, which Thompson joined along with other former trustees, medical providers and regional representatives. He was one of two members of that group (the other being Brian Eckel, see page 27) chosen to sit on Novant Health’s 22-member board. Thompson also this year joined the New Hanover County Airport Authority.

Airport Authority

NEIL UNDERWOOD eil Underwood brings

experience Nhisas abanking partner of Canapi, a

PRESIDENT, AMERICAN PROPERTY EXPERTS; NOVANT HEALTH BOARD OF TRUSTEES MEMBER

ason Thompson owns

Biomass JDiversified Company, which does

business as American Property Experts, a recycling and biomass fuel production facility.

WHY HE’S A POWER PLAYER:

Thompson, who previously served as a New Hanover County Commissioner for four years and as a Wilmington City Council member for eight years, remains involved in civic life, namely in the health care and airport fields. Thompson was the chair of the NHRMC trustees board, a body that along with New Hanover County commissioners, had to review

local teachers who instruct kindergarteners through fifth-graders buy supplies and books.

TREY WALLACE

JAY WILEMAN

PRESIDENT, INTRACOASTAL REALTY CORP.

ilmington native Trey

leads one of the WWallace largest residential real

estate firms in the area and one of the largest independent firms in Southeastern North Carolina.

PARTNER, CANAPI VENTURES

JASON THOMPSON

companies since its start. Through the venture arm of Live Oak, Underwood helped incubate companies focused on digital bank transformation, including Finxact, Payrailz, DefenseStorm and Greenlight.

venture capital firm he helped co-found in 2018. Underwood also is president of Live Oak Bancshares, the holding company of Live Oak Bank. He co-founded Live Oak Bank, nCino and Apiture.

WHY HE’S A POWER PLAYER:

Canapi, a fund focused on early- to growth-stage fintech companies, has helped bring capital to companies in the Southeast. At the start of last year, Canapi received $545 million from its institutional investor base to support innovation in financial services. It ended 2020 with investments of about $650 million from 44 banks and strategic investors. The investor base, known as the Canapi Alliance, includes 11 of the top 50 and 23 of the top 100 banks in the United States by total asset size. Underwood said this summer that the venture capital fund has made 20 investments in 16 portfolio

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WHY HE’S A POWER PLAYER:

Wallace, son of company founder and CEO Jim Wallace, drives the growth and manages the day-to-day operations of his 400-agent firm, which was founded in 1976. During high school and continuing through college, Trey Wallace worked summers in the company’s IT department, helping agents with the real estate technology explosion of the early 2000s. After graduating from East Carolina University, he acquired a real estate license in 2010, and over the next couple of years worked as a sales agent in Intracoastal’s Lumina Station office. In 2013, he made a transition into the company’s management team, with a focus on operations. He also worked as project manager for the successful Spartina Townhomes project near Wrightsville Beach. The Spartina II project is bringing 16 luxury townhomes to the Airlie/Wrightsville Sound area in 2022. As of November, Intracoastal Realty had surpassed $2 billion in sales for the first time in its company’s history on a 12-month basis. In 2020, Intracoastal merged with Bald Head Island Ltd. Trey Wallace is involved in the Intracoastal Realty Teacher’s Fund, which helps

NUMBER OF EMPLOYEES: 400

real estate agents and 100 staff members

PRESIDENT & CEO, GE HITACHI NUCLEAR ENERGY

ince 2015, Jay Wileman has

GE Hitachi, which has Sled been based in Wilmington for more than 50 years.

WHY HE’S A POWER PLAYER:

GE Hitachi finds itself in a changing landscape for nuclear energy, namely investments in small modular reactors. Wileman points to an interest in the technology in several other parts of the world including in the U.S., U.K., Poland, Japan, Finland and Estonia. GE Hitachi also is continuing to work with TerraPower, a company founded by Bill Gates, to advance the Natrium advanced reactor. That technology was selected this year for a demonstration project at a retiring coal plant in Wyoming. With the various projects, GE Hitachi has added highly skilled jobs at its facility in Wilmington. This year, GE Hitachi also introduced a digital solution to help plant operators plan, schedule and executive maintenance and refueling outages.

CORPORATE CHANGES: In

November, General Electric Co. announced it would split into three public companies. GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy, which is an alliance created by GE and Hitachi, falls under the GE Power division, which according to the recent announcement, is planned to be combined with the GE Renewable Energy and GE Digital groups into a business possibly spun off by early 2024.

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SERVED BY

The Power Breakfast Series is a quarterly gathering of the business community and other community leaders to talk about issues of interest to our region. Each breakfast features a panel discussion or individual speaker focusing on topics of interest to local companies. The breakfasts provide a unique networking opportunity since they are attended by a range of influential people including busines owners, executives, community leaders and many others. 32

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Want to plug into the Power? Become a Power Breakfast sponsor! Sponsors are recognized before and during each event and have a table up front. Learn about sponsorship options by contacting us at marketing@wilmingtonbiz.com. Note: Power Breakfasts continue bringing important topics to the community through Covid by following the gathering restrictions and broadcasting the events online.


W I L M I N GTO N B I Z 1 0 0 I N F LU E N C E R S

THE

INFLUENCERS

THE CHANGEMAKERS, IN FRONT OF OR BEHIND THE SCENES

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

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W I L M I N GTO N B I Z 1 0 0 I N F LU E N C E R S

TERRY BRAGG EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, BATTLESHIP NORTH CAROLINA

C

apt. Terry Bragg assumed his role as director of the USS North Carolina Battleship in 2008 after a 30-year career in the Navy.

WHY HE’S AN INFLUENCER:

Bragg oversees one of the state’s biggest tourist attractions, garnering more than 200,000 visitors every year. Through a multi-year fundraising effort, Bragg helped cultivate over $23 million in public and private dollars to revitalize the aging warship. The battleship has been anchored on the Cape Fear River for 60 years and was in need of extensive repairs, which Bragg coordinated and ensured took place. Battleship officials implemented the completion of $8.5 million in cofferdam repairs in 2018, with final repairs of the hull taking place this year. Because of climate change impacts on the low-lying riverfront location, Bragg has crafted a Living with Water initiative, which has collected $2.3 million in public grant funding to build a living shoreline, redesign drainage systems and create a pathway for water to flow over the roadway when it rises. As part of the intensive rehabilitation work, Bragg managed a Battlestar Collection that sells products crafted with pieces of the ship’s teak deck and steel hull.

NUMBER OF EMPLOYEES: 31 PHOTO BY ARIS HARDING

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W I L M I N GTO N B I Z 1 0 0 I N F LU E N C E R S

WHY HE’S AN INFLUENCER: In

CHRIS BONEY CHIEF RELATIONSHIPS OFFICER, LS3P

hris Boney is in charge

development Cofandbusiness leadership for LS3P’s nine offices across North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia.

WHY HE’S AN INFLUENCER:

Boney is a member of the board of the New Hanover Community Endowment, and his company has been the architecture firm for major projects throughout the Wilmington area. Current projects include downtown redevelopment Project Grace; the expansion of cloud banking software firm nCino at Mayfaire; the redevelopment of the New Hanover County Government Center; and the upcoming, $210 million NovantNew Hanover Regional Medical Center hospital in Scotts Hill. Boney has designed multiple projects over the years, such as Live Oak Bank’s campus in midtown Wilmington, the Betty H. Cameron Women’s and Children’s Hospital at NHRMC and the Wilson Center at Cape Fear Community College. Boney has served as chairman of the Wilmington Chamber of Commerce, helped to establish the Cape Fear Future Fund and worked with the city of Wilmington’s planning staff on numerous initiatives over the years, such as the Central Business District revitalization.

February, the collective formed Collective Ventures, a social impact investment initiative with the goal of attracting $10 million in investments in the first year. The venture’s goal is to buy local efforts that relate to affordable housing, workforce development and work in conjunction with philanthropic giving. In February, the program had already received $2.5 million from Live Oak Bank, of which $1.8 million was used to purchase 20 rental units to address affordable housing in the region. In June, Cape Fear Collective (CFC) purchased Driftwood, a 15-unit apartment complex, for $1.2 million. So far, CFC has $5 million under management with another $15 million in investment commitments from banks, corporations and individual investors. CFC released its Inclusive Economy Report in September. In partnership with Novant Health, CFC is leading the Healthy Cape Fear 2030 data initiative, a data aggregation, analysis and dashboard that outlines the state of health and wellbeing in the region.

ROB BURRUS DEAN, UNCW CAMERON SCHOOL OF BUSINESS

ob Burrus has served

dean of the UNCW RasCameron School of Business since 2014.

WHY HE’S AN INFLUENCER: The

PATRICK BRIEN CEO, CAPE FEAR COLLECTIVE

atrick Brien has headed

Cape Fear Collective, Pupa social impact nonprofit organization, since 2019.

business school’s new online MBA program is listed in the top 100 programs curated by Fortune and a top 40 ranking by CEO Magazine. As head of the business school, Burrus oversaw the addition of a new program in cybersecurity, MBA specializations, management information systems, entrepreneurship and supply chain management.

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

An MS degree in supply chain management is under formation, with other programs in the financial technology and real estate sector also underway. The school’s enrollment is at an all-time high, at 2,700 students, including nearly 900 graduate students. To ensure students’ skills remain marketable, the school maintains advisory boards in nearly every discipline to stay in touch with the area’s business needs. Burrus has also cultivated the one-onone mentorship initiative, pairing students with local and retired executives through the Cameron Executive Network.

MICHAEL MORAN DIRECTOR OF RISK MANAGEMENT AND FINANCE, POLYQUEST INC.

WES CARTER PRESIDENT, ATLANTIC PACKAGING

es Carter is the third-

leader of Wgeneration the Wilmington-based packaging and equipment distributor.

WHY HE’S AN INFLUENCER:

With more than 1,400 employees, Atlantic Packaging services many industries including food, beverage, automotive, building products, medical and e-commerce. As an influencing player in the plastics industry, Carter has led efforts at Atlantic Packaging of adopting more sustainable and environmentally friendly practices at its facilities including reporting carbon emissions, committing to using renewable energy, electrifying its fleet of vehicles, among other efforts. The company has been adapting its products to be more sustainable including the launch of Fishbone, a recyclable can carrier that replaces the traditional plastic ring handles used to hold together cans. The company also worked on a mailer described as the first-ever, paper-fiber-based padded mailer used by online retailers such as Amazon.

ichael Moran has been with PolyQuest for nine years and was recently promoted to director of risk management and finance.

M

WHY HE’S AN INFLUENCER:

Wilmington-based PolyQuest is a distributor of PET resins and manufacturer of recycled PET resins. Polyethylene terephthalate (PET) is the common name for a unique plastic belonging to the polyester family. PET resins are used for bottles, jars, containers and packaging applications. PolyQuest, started in 2000, has facilities in Darlington, South Carolina, and Farmingdale, New York, as well as a European office in Austria. The company is the largest distributor of PET resins in the U.S. and Canada and one of the fastest-growing distributors of PP and HIPS resins. This year, it formed Renuva Plastics to acquire the U.S. division of Faith Group Co., another distributor of postindustrial thermoplastics, especially PET, in the U.S. and the largest exporter of those products out of the U.S. PolyQuest this summer expanded its South Carolina facility by 225,000 square feet.

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W I L M I N GTO N B I Z 1 0 0 I N F LU E N C E R S In 2021, Carter co-launched A New Earth Project, bringing together surfers and the industrial packaging supply chain with the goal of reducing ocean plastic waste. The initiative hopes to help reduce the production of single-use plastics and clean up the oceans.

HOLLY CHILDS PRESIDENT & CEO, WILMINGTON DOWNTOWN INC.

olly Childs joined WDI as president

CEO at the beginning of the year Hand on the heels of a 25-year career in economic development.

WHY SHE’S AN INFLUENCER: Since starting, Childs has focused on initiatives to grow downtown’s business and residential base. WDI has been a vocal proponent of New Hanover County’s Project Grace. Childs is also aiding in the redevelopment of the Soda Pop district, the gateway project and the Riverbend development. This year, Childs helped manage WDI’s small business microloan program and facade improvement grant, providing financial support to existing and new startups downtown. The nonprofit also oversees the Municipal Services District (MSD) program, funded by an additional tax district in a 70-block area downtown.

YEAR WDI FORMED: 1977

CHRIS COUDRIET COUNTY MANAGER, NEW HANOVER COUNTY

hris Coudriet is New Hanover

chief administrator and CCounty’s oversees all departments under the watch of the board of commissioners. As manager, Coudriet prepares the annual budget, which this fiscal year is $458 million, serving more than 225,000 residents.

WHY HE’S AN INFLUENCER: Coudriet

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helped lead the county through the pandemic, recently managing initiatives and programs prompted by $45.5 million in


W I L M I N GTO N B I Z 1 0 0 I N F LU E N C E R S American Rescue Plan funding. He oversaw the closure of the sale of the county-owned New Hanover Regional Medical Center to Novant Health, a deal that was finalized in February. This year, he’s helped forward Project Grace, the county’s public-private project that will repurpose the downtown library and surrounding blocks into a mixed-use development and relocate the Cape Fear Museum. An expansive redevelopment of the county government center is underway, scheduled to be complete by fall 2022. The Healing Place, another county initiative to create a substance use recovery center, has been under construction this year, and is slated to open in April.

has become one of the city’s leading, locally owned commercial builders delivering more than 340 projects since 1992.

WHY HE’S AN INFLUENCER:

MARIE PARKER EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, CAPE FEAR PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION AUTHORITY/WAVE TRANSIT

arie Parker began as Wave Transit’s executive director in December of last year. She has over 14 years of senior-level management experience in the public transportation industry, most recently as general manager of GoRaleigh.

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WHY SHE’S AN INFLUENCER: Parker was hired to help revamp

STEPHEN DEBIASI CEO, EMERGEORTHO P.A.

tephen DeBiasi is

for the Sresponsible strategic, financial

and operational oversight of Wilmington and Triad regions of EmergeOrtho and related its entities.

WHY HE’S AN INFLUENCER:

Through a series of mergers and acquisitions in recent years, EmergeOrtho has become one of the largest physician-owned orthopedic practices in the country. DeBiasi has been along for much of that growth, having spent 14 years with Wilmington Orthopaedic Group, OrthoWilmington and EmergeOrtho. Throughout that evolution, DeBiasi led seven mergers and acquisitions of various sizes. In 2016, OrthoWilmington joined with three other practices across North Carolina to form EmergeOrtho. EmergeOrtho’s overall medical team – as of this year headed by Wilmington resident Allison Farmer as statewide CEO – includes 288 orthopedic

Wave Transit and look at the area’s mass transportation needs. In her first year in the role, has taken on several projects to do that. She worked with Wave Transit board members and city and county officials to pause the service reductions until July 2022. A joint committee formed and has been discussing the possibility of a referendum for a quarter-cent sales tax increase to be a dedicated funding source for public transportation. The organization recently launched a new microtransit mode covering Brunswick, New Hanover and Pender counties. The pilot agreement funded by the state is designed to connect the three counties. Wave Transit’s on-time service delivery improved from 74% to 84% on its fixed-route system. In the past year, Wave Transit applied for and received funding for capital projects, including upfitting its current facility with generators to prepare for severe weather events. Parker also has focused on having a mobile app developed that will let users book rides, locate their buses or purchase passes. The app is slated to be released next summer.

BUS TECH: Another project involves adding passenger Wi-Fi for riders.

surgeons and physicians, nurse practitioners and physician assistants, , 33 of those physicians in the Wilmington region. In the past year, EmergeOrtho opened its Brunswick Surgery Center in Leland as well as a new office in Burgaw, which is its first in Pender County.

NUMBER OF EMPLOYEES: 1,800 in North Carolina; 500 in its Wilmington region

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Some of the more recent high-profile projects McKinley has delivered or is working on include Bradley Creek Station, an 80,000-square-foot office and retail complex on Oleander Drive in Wilmington that is fully leased or sold; Wilmington Trade Center, a three-building Class A industrial project on U.S. 421 near the interchange of Interstate 140; the expansion of the Quality Chemical campus in New Hanover County; and Novant Health’s regional corporate headquarters. Dull has served on numerous civic and professional boards including the city of Wilmington Planning Commission, for which he was chairman of the board for four years, and the New Hanover County Planning Board, for which he was chairman for three years. Dull also serves on the Wrightsville Beach Board of Aldermen, being re-elected in 2021.

ERIN EASTON WORKFORCE TRAINING COORDINATOR, CFCC

rin Easton joined

Fear Community ECape College’s workforce

training coordinator in September after spending a year as business engagement manager for the Cape Fear Council of Governments.

WHY SHE’S AN INFLUENCER:

KEN DULL PRESIDENT, MCKINLEY BUILDING CORP.

eginning his construction

in 1985, McKinley Bcareer “Ken” Dull founded McKinley Building in 1992. Since then, the company

Easton helped conceive and cultivate the formation of the Cape Fear Manufacturing Partnership, an alliance of the industry’s manufacturers that formed to collectively advance their needs and ideas to stakeholders. Easton has helped the group connect to public partners and incorporate as a nonprofit as it aims to increase W I N T E R 2021

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W I L M I N GTO N B I Z 1 0 0 I N F LU E N C E R S workforce development training in the region. As a project team member for Racial Equity for Adult Credentials in Higher ed (REACH) at CFCC, Easton has helped build structured career pathways to enable adult students of color to find programs and support services necessary to succeed. Easton is also an executive committee member of My Future Cape Fear Collaborative, a project working on crafting a roadmap of meaningful career pathways through industry and education partnerships.

CHARLES FOUST SUPERINTENDENT, NHC SCHOOLS

Like in other school districts around the state, superintendents still are contending with COVID-19 protocols in the schools, catching students up from remote instruction time last year and labor shortages that are impacting positions ranging from bus drivers to substitute teachers. Foust is currently working with New Hanover County on a plan to improve school and community safety. He is focused on a districtwide initiative to provide one-to-one electronic devices for all students by the 2025-26 school year. Improving literacy rates to 90% for students over a three- to five-year span is another goal. Foust also is looking to reorganize the district’s Career and Technical Education clusters and pathways “to ensure they align with our local market and job force.”

CEO of the Charlottesville Area Association of Realtors. She has more than two decades of experience in leadership in real estate associations.

WHY SHE’S AN INFLUENCER:

Gardner leads an organization with more than 3,100 Realtor members and in 2020 lobbied to make sure real estate was deemed an essential service by the state during the COVID-19 lockdown. She also led the way for CFR’s Safe Showing Pledge, making sure members pledged to hold safe home showings during the pandemic. Meanwhile, the housing market nationally and locally continued breaking records, with multiple offers and dwindling inventory that lasted into the slower months.

harles Foust started as

of the New Hanover Chead County school system in

September 2020, moving from Kansas City, where he had served as superintendent of the Kansas district.

WHY HE’S AN INFLUENCER: As

schools superintendent, Foust is responsible for a school district with over 25,000 students and more than 4,000 employees. The school system also is the second-largest employer in New Hanover County.

DONNA GIRARDOT ANNE GARDNER CEO, CAPE FEAR REALTORS

nne Gardner was hired

the organization’s Afor top post by Cape Fear Realtors officials in 2019.

Gardner was previously

CHAIR, NEW HANOVER COUNTY AIRPORT AUTHORITY AND NEW HANOVER COUNTY PLANNING BOARD

onna Girardot is the

first female chair Dstate’s of an airport authority,

serving her fourth consecutive term as chair, in addition to leading the county planning panel for four terms.

WHY SHE’S AN INFLUENCER:

Girardot has worked with other airport authority members to oversee operations of the Wilmington International Airport throughout the pandemic. Under her leadership, ILM’s business park has also secured two new companies totaling $120 million worth of investment. ILM performed better than national and peer airports during the pandemic and was recognized as one of the fastest airports nationally to begin the pandemic recovery process. ILM continues to maintain healthy reserves and be a regional economic engine through expanded commercial and general aviation activities. In 2021, Girardot continued to guide the planning board and department through the Unified Development Ordinance process and significant code changes. She also continued to help update the county’s planning, development and building process building process to promote economic development and meet community and county desires and needs through amended height restrictions, setbacks, buffers, affordable housing needs, environmental and traffic challenges and regulations and impacts on schools.

ELECTED OFFICIALS’ MAJOR MOVES While elected government officials were not included in the WilmingtonBiz 100, their actions have a major influence on the region. fter suffering setbacks from the pandemic, American Rescue Plan Act funding arrived in the spring, infusing a combined $153 million into the tri-county region’s counties and municipalities. In all (not including allocations for municipalities), Brunswick County received $27 million, Pender County $12 million and New

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Hanover $45 million. Each county gave its employees temporary boosts in pay and is investing millions in infrastructure upgrades. New Hanover County: The year started off with officials breaking ground at The Healing Place, set to open in spring 2022 with 200 beds. County commissioners voted unanimously to fund the $25 million substance use recovery center. Work on Project Grace, a publicprivate partnership between the county


W I L M I N GTO N B I Z 1 0 0 I N F LU E N C E R S spent during 2016-20 combined. Griffin also serves as a member-at-large with the Governor’s Advisory Council on Film, Television, and Digital Streaming.

JOHNNY GRIFFIN DIRECTOR, REGIONAL FILM COMMISSION

ohnny Griffin has served

region’s film industry Jthe for more than three

decades. He became director of the Wilmington Regional Film Commission in 1999.

WHY HE’S AN INFLUENCER:

Griffin spends his days in conversations with potential projects, informing industry officials about working in the Wilmington region and trying to help attract productions to the area. As head of the film commission, he also helps productions with any unique needs they have with filming, with the hopes that they’ll bring future projects to the area as well. Recently, there have been as many as 1,200-1,300 people working on local film sets daily, Griffin said in October when there were seven productions filming in the region. He said that film and television productions are estimated to spend about $300 million-$350 million locally this year, exceeding the amount

KEN HALANYCH

community. He is actively developing a network of researchers to address regional opportunities as it relates to coastal resilience, biotechnology and aquaculture. Halanych’s research recently contributed to the university’s latest Alliance for the Blue Economy initiative. Halanych serves as editorin-chief of The Biological Bulletin, one of the oldest peerreviewed scientific journals in the nation.

Hufham recently worked on the 2021 economic scorecard, conducted a new audience research study and developed a new meeting and convention strategy for the Convention District downtown. She oversees a staff of 18 and a $7.7 million budget, utilized for marketing activities. Through the New Hanover County Tourism Development Authority, Hufham helps advocate for topics to benefit the tourism industry.

EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, UNCW CENTER FOR MARINE SCIENCE

en Halanych joined

in October KUNCW after a national search

to head up the university center. He has attracted international recognition for his research on marine invertebrate evolution and genomics and has authored over 200 peer-reviewed scientific publications, which have garnered upwards of $10 million in research funding.

WHY HE’S AN INFLUENCER:

As director of the CMS, Halanych has oversight of the programs and facilities housed in the center, which include MARBIONC, UNCW’s Shellfish Research Hatchery and Finfish Mariculture Program. In the role, he continues to mentor students as he also forges relationships with UNCW researchers and the business

and Zimmer Development Co., picked up steam with commissioners approving an MOU in March. The $56 million project will redevelop the downtown library to incorporate a relocated Cape Fear Museum and introduce residential and retail components to the block. Construction could tentatively begin next summer. In November, the county broke ground on its $53 million government center redevelopment project after approving a revised development agreement with Cape Fear FD Stonewater in January. The publicprivate partnership covers 15 acres

KIM HUFHAM PRESIDENT & CEO, WILMINGTON AND BEACHES CVB

im Hufham heads up the Wilmington and Beaches Convention & Visitors Bureau, where she has worked for 30 years.

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WHY SHE’S AN INFLUENCER:

Hufham helps curate tourism dollars, one of the lead industries in New Hanover County. Funds generated by tourism help replenish the area’s beaches, support the Wilmington Convention Center, fund ocean safety programs and more. Tourism supports nearly 5,500 jobs in the county and generates $51.5 million in state and local taxes.

and will give county headquarters a new home while also introducing new mixed-use opportunities. Construction should wrap by next September.

Brunswick County: Work is underway on a $129 million project to expand and enhance Brunswick County’s Northwest Water Treatment plant to handle additional capacity and treat emerging contaminants. RO-treated water is expected by 2023, and the increased capacity will become available next summer. Another major infrastructure upgrade is in the works at the Northeast Wastewater Treatment Plant, which

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MIKE KOZLOSKY EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, WILMINGTON URBAN AREA METROPOLITAN PLANNING ORGANIZATION

ike Kozlosky joined the

Urban Area MWilmington Metropolitan Planning

Organization (WMPO) in November 2004 and serves as its executive director, leading a staff of 12 people. .

WHY HE’S AN INFLUENCER:

The Wilmington Urban Area Metropolitan Planning Organization is a federally designated organization that provides transportation planning services for an area of nearly 500 square miles in the

will expand the county’s sewer infrastructure, which maxed out earlier this year. The $41.6 million project will wrap up by February.

Pender County: The county is gearing up to invest potentially millions into extending sewer services down U.S. 421 with the goal of reaching a planned residential project from an unnamed developer on Blueberry Road, with designs in the works. Pender has also taken steps this year to clean up the old BASF vitamin plant to free up available space adjacent to the Pender Commerce Park. – JOHANNA F. STILL

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W I L M I N GTO N B I Z 1 0 0 I N F LU E N C E R S region. It’s responsible for the development of the Metropolitan Transportation Plan that provides the blueprint for the region’s transportation infrastructure over the next 25 years. The plan is federally required to have a minimum 20-year planning horizon, be fiscally constrained and be updated every five years. The WMPO recently completed Cape Fear Moving Forward 2045. Kozlosky, who also sits on the Cape Fear Public Transportation Authority, manages the day-to-day operations for the organization and works with other transportation groups to help prioritize projects in the state’s program for funding and scheduling construction projects.

WAYNE LABAR MUSEUM DIRECTOR, CAPE FEAR MUSEUM OF HISTORY AND SCIENCE

ayne LaBar started this summer as

of the Cape Fear Museum. He Wdirector has more than 30 years of experience in museum leadership, science center planning and exhibition design, development and implementation.

WHY HE’S AN INFLUENCER: With the

redevelopment of the county-owned blocks downtown into a mixed-use complex, LaBar is leading the museum during a time of change for the Market Street facility. Plans call for the Project Grace redevelopment to include a new location for the Cape Fear Museum at Grace and Third streets, including some shared space with a redeveloped library branch there. The existing museum site at 814 Market Street would be turned into a space for collections, research and education hub. With the changes, LaBar would head up the reimagining of the museum’s mission and vision.

RYAN LEGG CEO, MEGACORP LOGISTICS

yan Legg and his wife, Denise, founded

Logistics in 2009. The logistics RMegaCorp company specializes in full and less-thantruckload shipments throughout the United States, Mexico and Canada. As CEO, he runs the company made up of about 500 employees.

WHY HE’S AN INFLUENCER: MegaCorp, which has appeared on the Inc. 5000 list of fastest-

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W I L M I N GTO N B I Z 1 0 0 I N F LU E N C E R S growing private companies several times, continues to expand. The company is one of the top third-party logistics providers in North America of freight brokerage services for full truckload and less-thantruckload freight shipping, which is for smaller freight that doesn’t require the entire truck trailer. Its local office alone has more than 320 employees. Its clients range from food to manufacturing to retail to metals/building materials.

MICHAEL LOPEZ PRESIDENT & CEO, ALPHA MORTGAGE

ichael Lopez founded Alpha Mortgage in 1983, and the company has attained growth and success

M

through the introduction of a continuing series of programs and services that have become standards in the mortgagelending industry. These include special programs for self-employed borrowers, a best-rate guarantee, same-day approval plans and 15-day closings.

WHY HE’S AN INFLUENCER:

Lopez’s company consistently ranks as one of the highestvolume mortgage companies in the Carolinas. “I am proud to have brought the first non-bank residential mortgage company to our area, which has allowed me to set the standard for our industry,” Lopez said. The company offers its mortgage and lending services in Wilmington, Cary, Jacksonville, Fayetteville, High Point, Charlotte, WinstonSalem, Southport and Topsail Island.

NUMBER OF EMPLOYEES: More than 150

DAVID MICHAEL VP & CEO WILMINGTON DIVISION, CLANCY & THEYS CONSTRUCTION CO.

In addition to recently completed projects downtown including the park and pavilion, Flats on Front apartments, an Aloft Hotel that incorporated renovations to the Coastline Convention Center, Clancy & Theys is currently building The Metropolitan apartment project next to Riverfront Park. The Wilmington Division has 67 employees.

avid Michael oversees

& Theys’ DClancy Wilmington Division,

which since its establishment in 1984 has constructed many of the most noteworthy facilities in Wilmington and the surrounding communities.

WHY HE’S AN INFLUENCER:

Michael’s latest accomplishment was the recent opening of the Live Oak Bank Pavilion at Riverfront Park. The 6.6 acres along the downtown Wilmington riverfront was transformed to a one-of-a-kind gathering place and event venue with a 7,200-person capacity amphitheater.

JOHN MONTEITH CEO, MONTEITH CONSTRUCTION CORP.

ohn Monteith has been

owner and CEO of Jthe Monteith Construction

Corp., a licensed general contractor since the company was founded in 1998.

CONTINUED p43

Are you ready for a fresh start in 2022?

Then prepare to celebrate the New Year in your new home! As we approach a new year, let’s gain some fresh perspective and plan for something amazing ahead. And remember the Michelle Clark Team is here; from our family to yours - Happy New Year!

Contact us today and start creating memories.

910.367.9767 | mclark@intracoastalrealty.com | michelleclarkteam.com

Michelle Clark-Bradley | Realtor®/ Broker | CNE, ALHS, SRES, SFR

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W I L M I N GTO N B I Z 1 0 0 I N F LU E N C E R S

LAURA PADGETT PROJECT COORDINATOR, WILMINGTON RAIL REALIGNMENT PROJECT aura Padgett has spearheaded an ambitious project to replace and enhance the existing rail infrastructure between the Port of Wilmington and Navassa. The project will create a shorter route that avoids the city’s busiest streets, with the goal of repurposing the existing route for public use. Studies are underway to ensure its feasibility.

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WHY SHE’S AN INFLUENCER: Padgett

PHOTO BY DARIA AMATO

has a deep history serving the Wilmington region, after 20 years on city council and 15 years on the Cape Fear Public Transit Authority board. She chaired the 2045 Long Range Transportation plan as part of her work of the Wilmington Metropolitan Planning Organization, of which she’s served as a member for 15 years. Between 2015 and 2021, Padgett coordinated the funding and foundation of the Wilmington Rail Realignment Project. When Padgett was chair of the Mayor’s Task Force on Rail Realignment, the group first presented results of a feasibility study about moving the rail lines in 2016. The city of Wilmington’s rail realignment project manager, Aubrey Parsley, was hired in 2019. A strong advocate for saving green spaces, she led the city in its 2006 Parks and Green Space referendum. Though she is retired from most of her work, she continues her advocacy for the rail project and continues to serve on the USS North Carolina Battleship Commission. When she chose not to seek re-election in 2015, she was city council’s longest-serving elected official.

NAMESAKE: Wave Transit’s multimodal

facility was named after Padgett when it opened last year on North Third Street.

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CONTINUED FROM p41 WHY HE’S AN INFLUENCER:

Monteith and his company have been involved in a number of impactful building projects over the past year. They include the expansion of the Wilmington International Airport, which is underway, and Common Desk, a coworking space in a rehabilitated historical building in downtown Wilmington. The company also completed TRU Colors Brewery. Monteith is also currently involved with the Camp Schreiber Foundation, an organization founded in 2011. Camp Schreiber is committed to impacting the community by providing educational services and out-of-classroom experiences to young men in Wilmington. Monteith established Thoughtbox, a nonprofit organization. The organization’s first project, Initiative 1897, launched in August and brought leading businesses in the Cape Fear together to use artwork to promote community dialogue around race and inequity.

largest in Southeastern North Carolina. Moore helped shape the state’s first stormwater permit transfer process and is currently the chairman of the New Hanover County Board of Adjustment. Moore has been an American Institute Certified Planner since 2008 and is a certified continuing education teacher for the N.C. Licensing Board for General Contractors.

PLANNING AHEAD: Moore is

CHAD PAUL CEO, BALD HEAD ISLAND LIMITED LLCMITCHELL FAMILY CORP.

had Paul oversees

operations and Cthe development of

GIRARD & TRACEY NEWKIRK CO-FOUNDERS, GENESIS BLOCK

arried couple Tracey and Girard Newkirk founded business development services company Genesis Block in 2019.

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EXECUTIVE OFFICER, WILMINGTONCAPE FEAR HOME BUILDERS ASSOCIATION

ameron Moore manages

not-for-profit trade Cthe group and is responsible for day-to-day association leadership and governance, member services, finance, staff supervision, association community event planning, marketing and legislative and regulatory affairs.

WHY HE’S AN INFLUENCER:

With just four employees, the organization Moore manages is the fifth-largest HBA in the United States. WCFHBA is also the second-largest group of its kind in North Carolina and

Tracey Newkirk, president of Genesis Block, and Girard Newkirk, the firm’s CEO, are local entrepreneurs aiming through their company to build an entrepreneur class in Wilmington that is inclusive of everyone while having a special focus on ventures led by minorities and women. Currently, there are 80 organizations in the Genesis Block ecosystem, and the company, which has only four employees, provides services for 55 small businesses. It also has 38 resident companies involved in entrepreneurship training wprograms. New Hanover County awarded $25,000 in economic development funds to Genesis Block’s minority business accelerator program, which also received a $50,000 grant from the NC IDEA Black Entrepreneurship Council to advance Black

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.

GENE SMITH

currently working with local high schools to help prepare for the labor demand in construction and the trades.

WHY THEY ARE INFLUENCERS:

CAMERON MOORE

entrepreneurship in Southeastern North Carolina. The first Genesis Block Back on the Block Minority Accelerator began in January, and the state and county funds were used to provide technical assistance, educational resources, training, networking opportunities and access to capital.

Bald Head Island and also established the Bald Head Island Transportation Authority.

WHY HE’S AN INFLUENCER:

Paul leads the entity that is the principal developer and resort operator of Bald Head Island, an island resort that’s 3 miles off the southern coast of Southport and contains some of the highest-priced real estate in the state. Paul, along with officials from development partner East West Partners, has worked on plans for Project Indigo, a nearly 400-acre, $565 million development proposed on an important piece of property near Southport. Paul is also a partner in Harbor Island Partners LLC, a private equity firm headquartered in Wilmington since 2000.

CHRIS RAMM COO, TAYLOR DEVELOPMENT GROUP LLC

hris Ramm has

working on Cbeen industrial and

PRESIDENT, BRUNSWICK COMMUNITY COLLEGE ene Smith was

president of Gappointed Brunswick Community College in 2018 after spending five years at Wayne Community College in Goldsboro as vice president of academic and student services.

WHY HE’S AN INFLUENCER:

Brunswick Community College was named “Best College in America” by Smartasset.com this year based on an analysis of graduation and transfer rates, its student-to-faculty ratio, tuition rates and fees. Smith oversees a team that provides workforce training and education to 1,692 students and 2,000 workforce continuing education students. He implemented the National Coalition of Certification Centers to provide industryrecognized credentials for technical and trade programs. After construction began in 2019, Smith helped open a new health sciences building, which now serves the highest number of nursing and health science students in BCC’s history. Recently, Smith has assisted in renovating the BCC cafeteria into the Douglas Terhune Center for Culinary Arts. He partners with Brunswick Business & Industry Development to help attract and retain talent in the region and nurtures relationships with industry leaders to ensure BCC programs are meeting area need.

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W I L M I N GTO N B I Z 1 0 0 I N F LU E N C E R S

commercial development in the Wilmington area in recent years and oversees acquisitions, dispositions, development and leasing for his company’s portfolio in North and South Carolina.

.

has more than tripled and its employee base has doubled.

WHY HE’S AN INFLUENCER:

WHY HE’S AN INFLUENCER:

He and his company built one of the first-class A speculative industrial buildings to be developed in the Wilmington market in the past 15 years. They also purchased, modernized and got new tenants for the Landfall Park Office Buildings on Eastwood Road. Additionally, they bought, modernized and improved the occupancy from 80% to 100% of the office building at 300 N. Third St., at the corner of Third and Grace streets, in downtown Wilmington. He and his partners have invested over $31 million over the past four years, recently completing a fivefloor bathroom and lobby renovation at 300 N. Third St.

CHRIS REID PRESIDENT, THOMAS CONSTRUCTION GROUP

hris Reid established Thomas Construction Group in 2005 with more than a decade of experience in management and technology. Since then, he’s secured an unprecedented amount of work for the firm, notably in the corporate commercial, behavioral health care and senior living program sectors.

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WHY HE’S AN INFLUENCER:

Under Reid’s leadership, Thomas Construction continues to be the contractor for major projects in the Wilmington area. In March, the firm broke ground on the headquarters expansion for cloud banking software firm nCino at its Mayfaire campus, a project

LYNDA STANLEY PRESIDENT, DOSHER MEMORIAL HOSPITAL

ynda Stanley has been with Dosher Memorial

for more than 35 years serving in several roles LHospital including Dosher’s COO from 1986 until 2014 and as president of the Dosher Hospital Foundation.

WHY SHE’S AN INFLUENCER: Stanley was named interim

president for the community hospital in Southport last year and took over the title permanently in October. Stanley also becomes CEO this month with the retirement of former chief medical officer Brad Hilaman from the hospital, which has 317 employees. Earlier this year, Dosher broke even financially for the first time in over a decade and experienced a $4.5 million turnaround at the end of its fiscal year on Sept. 30. This financial profitability allows the hospital to continue to invest in workforce, programs and equipment to add services and make improvements to existing services. In February Dosher became the first hospital in the region to offer robotic arm-assisted surgery for total knee replacements, enhancing its orthopedics program, and in October announced it was opening a pain management clinic.

FIRST ROLE AT DOSHER: Laboratory manager in 1986 valued at $48 million. The contractor’s other projects include the mixeduse redevelopment of the New Hanover County Government Center; Renaissance Apartments off Military Cutoff Road; new Autumn Hall office buildings; Wilmington Treatment Center; a Novant Health medical office building in Brunswick County; Brunswick Forest amenity center; and Eden Village, a tiny home village for the homeless and disabled in the Wilmington community. Reid also currently serves on the board of the Cape Fear Club, the Surf Club and Eden Village.

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Simmons oversaw taking the Wilmington-headquartered contract research organization public last year. In April, it was announced that PPD would be purchased by Thermo Fisher Scientific, a Massachusetts-based company with 80,000 employees that supplies products, equipment and services to health care and life-sciences organizations. The deal, valued at $17.4 billion, is expected to close by the end of the year, subject to closing conditions and approvals. Regulatory agencies in the U.S. and U.K. have been reviewing the deal, which the companies expected. PPD has more than 30,000 employees globally, 19% more than last September, Simmons said during the company’s thirdquarter earnings call. About 1,800 of those workers have been locally based.

BILL VASSAR EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT & GENERAL MANAGER, EUE/SCREEN GEMS STUDIOS

ill Vassar has served EUE/

Gems, which has B10Screen stages, for 23 years, facilitating over $1 billion in economic stimulus for the region.

WHY HE’S AN INFLUENCER: 2021

DAVID SIMMONS CHAIRMAN & CEO, PPD

avid Simmons joined

in 2012 after DPPD spending 15 years at

Pfizer, where he served as president and general manager of emerging markets. Under Simmons’ leadership, the company’s total enterprise value

was a banner year for film in Wilmington, marking a major resurgence that was already underway. This year, he has assisted with major productions, including Lionsgate-Starz with Hightown, Universal Pictures with The Black Phone and Halloween Kills, Netflix with Echoes and Florida Man, Amazon with The Summer I Turned Pretty and Fox with Our Kind of People. This year is breaking records for film in North Carolina and locally. In his role, Vassar oversees marketing, finance and

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W I L M I N GTO N B I Z 1 0 0 I N F LU E N C E R S operations for one of the largest TV and film studios east of California.

CYNTHIA WALSH CEO, BRUNSWICK COUNTY ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS

Executives. Additionally, BCAR recently opened its new office, which includes an interactive classroom. For the second consecutive year, BCAR was awarded an innovation grant through NC Realtors to replicate the Realtors Vote campaign. Walsh is also involved with Brunswick County’s Blueprint Brunswick planning effort and the Shallotte Riverfront Advisory Committee.

ynthia Walsh has worked

the Brunswick Cwith County Association of

Realtors for 15 years, serving as CEO since 2005.

WHY SHE’S AN INFLUENCER:

In a frenzied residential real estate market in which multiple offers are the norm and inventory is low, Walsh leads an organization that provides tools and support to its 1,200 members. In February, she earned the Certified Association Executive accreditation from the American Society of Association

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MARGARET WELLERSTARGELL PRESIDENT & CEO, COASTAL HORIZONS CENTER

argaret Weller-Stargell

Coastal Moversees Horizons Center’s

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57-county service area and a $43 million budget. Named director in 1995, WellerStargell began her work in counseling at Coastal Horizons in 1985.

health, mental health and other services.

WHY SHE’S AN INFLUENCER:

Coastal Horizons is frequently on the receiving end of public grant funding, most recently accepting $100,00 in November from the city of Wilmington to fund the temporary expansion of an ongoing overdose reduction and treatment program. In September, the center announced it planned to expand its opioid treatment program to Brunswick County in Shallotte. Weller-Stargell, who also is president of the Willie Stargell Foundation, has served with the Coastal Horizons for 36 years as it has grown into the largest human service organization in the region. The nonprofit provides substance use, family preservation, crisis intervention, school-based

LAURIE WHALIN PRESIDENT, NOVANT HEALTH BRUNSWICK MEDICAL CENTER-COASTAL MARKET

fter the sale of New

Regional AHanover Medical Center to

Novant Health earlier this year, Laurie Whalin moved from her role at NHRMC as vice president of clinical services to become head of Novant’s existing 74bed hospital in Brunswick County.

WHY SHE’S AN INFLUENCER: Whalin is responsible for Brunswick Medical Center,


W I L M I N GTO N B I Z 1 0 0 I N F LU E N C E R S including integrating the hospital into Novant’s Coastal Market that formed when it bought NHRMC. She also has executive responsibilities across Novant’s new Coastal Market for oncology and neuroscience service lines, pharmacy, lab, respiratory and radiology services throughout its footprint in New Hanover, Brunswick and Pender counties. During the pandemic, Whalin has co-led COVID operations during the past 18 months at NHRMC including vaccination efforts leading to 108,000 vaccines given through NHRMC. She also played a key role in the expansion of oncology services to Brunswick County in Brunswick Forest, development of two medical office buildings in Brunswick County for expansion of specialty services and creation of the Neuroscience Institute on NHRMC’s 17th Street campus.

CINDEE WOLF OWNER, DESIGN SOLUTIONS

and development

Cindee Wolf’s Lconsultant work in Wilmington goes back to the 1980s with the start of Landfall, a 2,200-acre gated community near Wrightsville Beach.

developers but some of her most gratifying work, she said, has been with small business owners. “They have previously occupied leased space, but their success has allowed them to pursue ownership of their own property,” Wolf said. “It is a thrill to work with them through the design, entitlement, construction and occupancy of their new business location.”

WHY SHE’S AN INFLUENCER:

Wolf has been involved with hundreds of local residential, office and commercial developments since the 1980s. Wolf said she believes her success can be attributed to working out problematic issues of development plans before she presents them to various government panels that have to sign off on them. The bulk of Wolf ’s work is with professional

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LANDON ZIMMER MANAGING PARTNER, ZIMMER DEVELOPMENT CO.

andon Zimmer’s firm,

in Lheadquartered Wilmington, is involved in mixed-use development

projects through the Southeast and Midwest.

WHY HE’S AN INFLUENCER:

Zimmer is helping to lead Project Grace (which could soon be renamed), a mixeduse project to redevelop a city block in downtown Wilmington owned by New Hanover County. In addition to working on Project Grace, Zimmer has helped lead rezoning efforts for more than a dozen real estate projects in the Southeast and Midwest, primarily focused on rehabilitating brownfields and infill development, totaling more than $1 billion of investment in formerly blighted and contaminated downtown areas. Zimmer also impacts the region’s business community by serving on the N.C. Department of Transportation board and representing Division 3 as well as serving as an at-large member of the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission.

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THE

INNOVATORS

T HE DISRUPTORS S HAKING THINGS UP A ND GETTING THE R E GION TO SEE THINGS IN A DIFFERENT WAY

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CHRISTIAN CARDAMONE

BROKER, ALOHA REAL ESTATE & KELLER WILLIAMS INNOVATE hristian Cardamone

a WilmingtonCisbased broker, general contractor and property manager.

WHY HE’S AN INNOVATOR:

Cardamone has recently been developing personal real estate holdings inside the fast-growing neighborhood The Cargo District, alongside the primary developer’s properties there. The district is along the corners of 16th and Queen streets. In The Cargo District, Cardamone is an ownerpartner of Coworx, a collaborative coworking space, and DSWX-Design Worxs Warehouse, a multitenant small business community of artisans and artists. In addition to his work with The Cargo District, Cardamone led the renovation of the historical downtown properties at 102 and 104 Orange St. and 202/204 Princess St. As owner of Aloha Wilmington Real Estate, Cardamone manages a large portfolio of commercial and residential properties in the greater Wilmington area. He also leads the Christian Cardamone Team at Keller Williams Innovate.

SCENE SETTER: Cardamone

has sold or leased more than 20 bars and restaurants in downtown Wilmington.

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NEAL ANDREW PRESIDENT, ANDREW CONSULTING ENGINEERS PC

eal Andrew’s firm works

marine Ninandstructural, forensic engineering

as well as overall project management. It was created by himself and John Andrew in 2004.

WHY HE’S AN INNOVATOR:

Andrew Consulting served as the consulting engineer for the Battleship North Carolina’s walkway and cofferdam projects as well as on the design and engineering team for the hull repairs of the ship. They received multiple awards for that cofferdam and memorial walkway structural design. The complicated project included building a structure around the memorial ship so that Cape Fear River water could be drained away to make muchneeded repairs to the ship’s hull. The hull’s final repairs took place this year. Other current projects include damage repairs from Hurricane Isaias on the Oak Island Pier, a bulkhead replacement for Bradley Creek Yacht Club and hurricane damage investigation at the Southport Marina.

BOARD LEADER: Andrew

will become chair of the Wilmington Chamber of Commerce board next year. He also is serving a four-year term with the N.C. Coastal Resources Commission, which prepares and adopts rules that govern development in the state’s 20 coastal counties. Andrew is vice-chair of the Wilmington/NHC Port, Waterway & Beach Commission, vice president of Masonboro.org and a member of the UNCW Coastal

SHAWN HAYES EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, EDEN VILLAGE OF WILMINGTON

ith his experience in crisis response and crisis intervention,

Hayes was recently named to head up Eden Village WShawn of Wilmington, a planned community of 32 tiny homes that will provide permanent housing for chronically homeless individuals.

WHY HE’S AN INNOVATOR: Hayes is leading an initiative in

Wilmington that aims to address the issue of homelessness. He and his team are modeling their plans for a 32-unit tiny home village on the inaugural (and successful) Eden Village in Springfield, Missouri. Housing people who have been homeless and on the streets of Wilmington for at least a year will lessen the strain on our health care system, Hayes said, adding “Our homeless friends are often found in hospitals and emergency rooms, and after medical attention is administered, they are sent back to the streets to recover. As you can imagine, this can quickly result with several return trips, at our area taxpayers’ expense.” The modular homes measure 400 square feet and are designed for single occupancy in the community on Kornegay Avenue. Each newly housed tenant will pay a permanent rent of $300 per month. Wrap-around social services will be available to residents. Engineering Advisory Board.

CHRIS ANDREWS PRESIDENT, COOL WILMINGTON PRODUCTIONS

hris Andrews founded Cool Wilmington, which has been producing

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events in Wilmington for the past 15 years, including the annual Rims on the River, a vintage car show in downtown Wilmington. One goal of the company is to draw people to the downtown area to promote businesses. Cool Wilmington provides event management, marketing strategies, graphic design, web design and social media marketing.

WHY HE’S AN INNOVATOR: Many events gathering large crowds of people were canceled during the pandemic, but Cool

Wilmington was able to bounce back this year as restrictions were lifted and more people were vaccinated. Andrews led the event management company that was responsible for overseeing Downtown Alive, an initiative to expand restaurants and retailers in downtown Wilmington with outdoor space. This year, the company has hosted the Halfway to St. Patrick’s Day Parade & Festival in September, the Downtown Wilmington Wine & Beer Walk, Rims on the River, American Craft Walk and Downtown Wilmington Holiday Tree Lighting, plus three new events: Really Cool Stuff, Veg Out Health & Wellness Festival and Really Cool Stuff Marketplace & Social Gathering. It has also hosted the Riverfront Farmers Market from March to November.

FUN FACT: Andrews is a

motorcycle and hot rod enthusiast.

ASH AZIZ OWNER, CIRCA RESTAURANT GROUP

ince moving to

23 years SWilmington ago, restaurateur Ash

Aziz has opened more than 16 restaurants, with current plans to open more.

WHY HE’S AN INNOVATOR:

Aziz plans in 2022 to open Origin Food and Drink at Autumn Hall and Raw 32, an oyster bar, off Military Cutoff Road. Origin is expected to serve “the best regional ingredients, fresh local fish, farmers market produce, a creative seasonal menu and wines from around the world,” Aziz said in March. Reflecting on Circa 1922, his restaurant in downtown Wilmington, Aziz said W I N T E R 2021

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recently that the fine-dining restaurant “has been one of those unique gems that has enjoyed 22 years of serving this community.” In addition to Circa 22, Aziz owns and operates Pizzeria Il Forno at The Pointe at Barclay in midtown Wilmington.

ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENTS Economic developers have a clear impact on the Wilmington region, connecting the area to potential job creatives and new companies. While note in the selection pool for the WilmingtonBiz100, their efforts, however, bear significance and are included in this roundup. While Brunswick County reeled in a manufacturer new to the area in 2021, tech firms led the way in economic development news for the city of Wilmington during the year. Gov. Roy Cooper announced in June that Precision Swiss Products Inc. plans to bring 125 new jobs to the area as part of locating its headquarters and a manufacturing facility in the International Logistics Park, a megasite in Brunswick and Columbus counties. Brunswick Business & Industry Development was one of the economic development agencies credited with helping to bring the company to the area. PSP produces small, high-precision parts for the aerospace, medical device and semiconductor industries and is investing more than $9 million in the logistics park facilities at the International Commerce

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Center (pictured above). September brought a jobs announcement from an existing tech firm in Wilmington. Vantaca, a cloud-based, software-as-aservice firm that works with association management companies, is expected to add 104 employees to its existing 100-person Wilmington workforce. Average annual salaries for the new jobs will be more than $80,000. Vantaca CEO Ben Currin credited Wilmington Business Development, the main economic development agency for New Hanover and Pender counties, with helping Vantaca get state and local support. In July, a legal tech company announced plans to open an office in Wilmington. New York-based Litify, which expects to hire 50 employees, operates a platform built on Salesforce.com aimed at law firms, in-house legal departments, government agencies and nonprofits. One of the most recent area economic development announcements came in October from market research firm Suzy, which plans to hire 40 employees. (Read more about Suzy on page 16). – CECE NUNN

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ON ACCOMPLISHING GOALS:

“Many years ago I wanted to be part of making Wilmington a dining destination, and I believe this community of great chefs and restaurateurs has done just that,” Aziz said. “When I came to Wilmington it was a means of a career, and in a very short time, opening these restaurants became a passion.”

it recently worked with Live Oak Bank to launch the bank’s new consumer banking platform and announced the launch of First Horizon Bank’s digital-only brand, Virtual Bank, in late summer. Apiture has rolled out significant enhancements to its current customers throughout the year, including a newly designed mobile banking experience.

BEN CURRIN CEO, VANTACA

en Currin joined Vantaca

2018 with a role in Binproject management,

CHRIS BABCOCK CEO, APITURE

hris Babcock joined

CWilmington-based Apiture in 2019 as chief

technology officer. He was named CEO shortly afterward and leads Apiture’s team that numbers more than 300 employees and serves about 350 financial institutions in the U.S. with the fintech’s API-first digital banking technology.

WHY HE’S AN INNOVATOR:

Apiture itself is an innovator, developing technologies for financial institutions that streamline digital processes and improve customers’ online banking experiences. The company’s two basic platforms are enhanced by partnerships it has formed with complementary tech providers. Apiture, established in Wilmington in 2017 as a joint venture between Live Oak Bank and Atlantabased First Data Corp., has proved an essential partner to digital banking initiatives. Under Babcock’s leadership

becoming COO in 2019 and CEO in 2020.

WHY HE’S AN INNOVATOR: As

CEO, Currin has supported the growth of the company from an early startup to 100 employees at the cloud-based, software-as-a-service firm that works with association management companies. In September, the company announced it will double its workforce as it launches a $5 million expansion. For this growth, the company will receive incentives from the city of Wilmington and New Hanover County as well as support from the state’s Job Development Investment Grant. According to a press release from Gov. Roy Cooper’s office, average annual salaries for the new jobs will be more than $80,000, creating a potential annual payroll impact of more than $8.3 million. With this growth, Vantaca, along with other fintech companies, has highlighted the Wilmington region as a technology hub in the southeast. Vantaca was also named the 2021 Coastal Entrepreneur Awards


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winner in the technology category and recognized by the 2021 Inc. 5000 list as one of the fastest-growing private companies in the U.S.

SEAHAWK CENTER: A third of Vantaca employees are UNCW alumni.

NICK DYER CEO, CATALYST CLINICAL RESEARCH

efore joining Catalyst Clinical Research in 2018, Nick Dyer spent his career in health care and life sciences. This includes working in the clinical research space with Quintiles and leading clinical operations, finance, IT and sales and marketing at PPD. In 2011, he joined Novella Clinical as chief commercial officer, and in 2016 he was

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appointed president there.

WHY HE’S AN INNOVATOR:

Since taking on the role of Catalyst’s CEO, Dyer has led the expansion of the contract research organization from 14 employees to more than 300 full-time employees as of 2021. About 150 of those are in North Carolina. Dyer also influenced the buildout of the company’s independent contractor program. The 2021 Inc. 5000 list included Catalyst as one of the fastest-growing private companies in the U.S., ranking it as No. 934. According to Inc., Catalyst was involved in several COVID-19 and oncology studies. Led by Dyer, the company has experienced a 514% growth in the past three years, according to Inc. Its growth involves several acquisitions, including Triangle Biostatistics and Acumen Healthcare Solutions. Dyer has also guided

efforts toward building the company’s diversity, equity and inclusion. Catalyst’s executive leadership team is primarily women-led, and its workforce is 70% made up of women.

KEITH HOLDEN CEO & GENERAL MANAGER, ATMC

n 2018, Brunswick

native Keith ICounty Holden was promoted

to CEO and general manager at ATMC, a member-owned cooperative providing communication services to Brunswick and Columbus counties. Holden has worked at ATMC since 1998, having served as vice president of information systems.

WHY HE’S AN INNOVATOR: As

CEO of ATMC, Holden has led the company’s efforts to connect underserved rural communities with new or faster internet service. ATMC has garnered over $42 million in funding to expand fiber optic broadband to over 20,000 rural addresses in Southeastern North Carolina. ATMC currently has multiple construction projects where ATMC is building fiber-to-home networks to provide broadband to underserved areas of Robeson, Columbus, Duplin, and Pender counties. In October, ATMC announced a multi-year, $100 million project with the goal of bringing faster internet to all its members in Brunswick County. The communications cooperative will replace all its copper and coaxial cable network within its service area with a new 100% fiber optic network. These projects will enable ATMC to be positioned to take advantage of Brunswick County’s growth

Buildings your “best friends” will love.

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910.350.0554

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DANIELLE MAHON FOUNDER & CEO, TOPSAIL STEAMER

nspired by enjoying summer

cookouts growing up Iseafood on the Jersey Shore, Danielle

Mahon created Topsail Steamer, a ready-to-cook low country boil company. Before launching the business in 2017, Mahon worked at Procter & Gamble as a consumer sales specialist, Thermo Fisher Scientific in Laboratory Equipment Division Sales and other roles.

in the years ahead.

BUSINESS SERVICE:

ATMC provides fiber optic broadband in the International Logistics Park.

ADAM HOOKS PRESIDENT, EMS LINQ INC.

s president of LINQ, Adam

oversees the dayAHooks to-day operations of the

education software company. He became vice president of LINQ in 2000, CEO in 2018 and president in 2020.

it to expand its product offerings and streamline financial and grant management for districts. LINQ partnered with two school nutrition management software providers, including the acquisition of Colyar Technology Solutions from Arizona and a merger with TITAN School Solutions from California. The company also acquired two enterprise resource planning platforms. Overall, Hooks has overseen and integrated 10 company acquisitions in four years.

COVID ADJUSTMENTS:

LINQ built an online rapid registration platform for schools.

WHY HE’S AN INNOVATOR:

LINQ provides products to K-12 schools that include accounting, finance and HR, meal management and state nutrition programs, school payments, registration and school websites. During his leadership time at LINQ, the company has grown to about 400 employees nationwide serving 3,000 districts across 50 states. Over the past year, the company has grown significantly having completed six acquisitions. In August, LINQ announced it had acquired Alio and eGrants, allowing

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EMMANUEL IBARRA OWNER AND ACCOUNTANT, ECG RESTAURANT GROUP

he Mexican restaurant El Cerro Grande has been serving traditional family-style dishes to the Wilmington region since 1991. The business has grown from one location opened by Emmanuel Ibarra’s father,

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Manuel, in the former Galleria shopping center near Wrightsville Beach to three El Cerro Grande restaurants, two El Arriero Taquerias and one Zocalo Street Food and Tequila. The group also owns four restaurants in Jacksonville.

WHY HE’S AN INNOVATOR:

Emmanuel Ibarra has helped grow the ECG Restaurant Group started by his father to a group that now operates 10 restaurants in the Wilmington and Jacksonville regions. The group is a family-run operation with Emmanuel Ibarra in charge of the accounting for the group and helping to manage about 400 employees total, 200 of whom are employed in Wilmington. In 2017, Emmanuel Ibarra helped co-found Zocalo, a modern Mexican eatery that was a departure from El Cerro Grande’s traditional menu focusing on fresher and healthier options. Currently, Emmanuel Ibarra is personally looking to open more restaurants.

COMMUNITY CONTRIBUTIONS: Emmanuel Ibarra is a member of the Wilmington Chamber of Commerce and Latin American Business Council. ECG Group also gives back to the community through WARM, Run for the Tatas and more.

WHY SHE’S AN INNOVATOR:

Under the guidance of Mahon, Topsail Steamer has grown from one location in Topsail Island to several locations including a store in Wrightsville Beach, one in Bethany Beach in Delaware, as well as three in her native New Jersey: Ocean City, Long Beach Island and Sea Isle City. The company has also been reaching more people through a partnership with Goldbelly, a national food delivery service that allows it to ship seafood pots all over the U.S. In 2021, Topsail Steamer was ranked one of the fastest-

JEFF JAMES CEO, WILMINGTON HEALTH

eff James has served as

of Wilmington Jhead Health, the largest

independent multi-specialty physician practice in the region, since 2008. It now has 1,100 employees.

WHY HE’S AN INNOVATOR:

James has not only developed Wilmington Health’s accountable care organization (ACO), he also implemented several other ACOs for physician groups around the country and formed one of the first national ACO collaboratives. ACOs are groups of health care providers who coordinate care for participating Medicare patients with the goal of improving outcomes because of the additional coordination and cutting down on medical costs. He has sat on the American Medical Association’s board and participated in several national health care public policy initiatives. As a consult, he has assisted several other large physician practices in


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growing private companies in the nation by Inc. 5000, coming in at No. 594. According to Inc., the company had an 808% three-year growth. It also became the recipient of the 2021 Travelers’ Choice Award from TripAdvisor. Mahon, who currently oversees 40 employees, was named Entrepreneur of the Year as part of the 2021 Coastal Entrepreneur Awards. Mahon also supports the local seafood industry by using fresh and local seafood from regional fishermen.

The Brunswick Community College Board of Trustees congratulates President Gene Smith on being recognized as an Influencer in the Greater Wilmington Business Journal’s WilmingtonBiz 100.

BUCKET BRIGADE: Crabby Jimbo and

The Miss Emily 2 buckets are named after her son and daughter. developing sustainable, long-range business models. In 2018, James partnered with Optum to create the Optum Digital Research Network and formed Wilmington Health’s national clinical trial company, Innovo Research. James spearheaded Wilmington Health’s efforts to develop its Medicare Advantage offering called Anchor Senior Care Advantage and he developed Wilmington Health’s soon-to-be announced commercial offering for individuals as well as large and small businesses.

Thank you for your leadership, vision, and tenacity in guiding Brunswick Community College to be named the Best Community College in the Nation* for two years in a row.

* by SmartAsset

brunswickcc.edu

EXPANDING SERVICES: New and recent projects include a free-standing ambulatory surgical center; the opening of a Women’s Center of Excellence; upfitting additional space in Jacksonville, Leland and Wilmington; and applying for additional medical facilities Certificates of Need for services such as MRIs and cardiac catheterizations.

BRETT MARTIN FOUNDER AND CEO, CASTLEBRANCH

n 1997, Brett Martin founded

a background screening ICastleBranch, and compliance management company, which relocated to Wilmington in 2002, bringing a workforce that currently has more than 400. Martin was named Tech Exec of the year by N.C. Technology Association in 2014, and he also founded the nonprofit HeartsApart.org.

WHY HE’S AN INNOVATOR: According to

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CastleBranch, the company is a leading provider of vaccination, immunization tracking and diagnostic test tracking in the United States. During the pandemic and the subsequent vaccine rollout, CastleBranch pivoted its focus to provide COVID-19related solutions to higher education organizations and hospitals. This includes the Real Vaccination and Waiver ID, which were launched in 2021 and includes a physical and virtual card that indicates whether a person has been vaccinated. It also launched CB COVID-19 Compliance, a test-tracking solution for COVID-19 test results that provides organizations with a detailed audit. These products preceded many of the vaccine mandates at various schools, health care organizations, event venues and more throughout the country. The company touts its status as “one of the first companies in the world” to issue a COVID-19 vaccination ID card.

35 MILLION: Medical

documents collected, reviewed and/or stored by CastleBranch

YOUSRY SAYED CEO, QUALITY CHEMICAL LABORATORIES LLC

rior to founding Quality Chemical Laboratories in 1998, Yousry Sayed was a professor and academic administrator at the University of North Carolina Wilmington’s chemistry and biochemistry department. Currently, he oversees the company’s 250 employees.

P

WHY HE’S AN INNOVATOR:

Quality Chemical, which provides services to the pharmaceutical industry, has undergone several expansions

Introducing Leghorn Investments a Tidewater Investment Company Project

Leghorn Investments LLC is a high-yield, subordinated debt product that finances poultry farm operations throughout the United States.

over the years. In 2021, the company announced the expansion of an 8,000-square-foot facility to support more laboratory and office space. Construction is currently underway on the two-story building on 0.6 acres at 3408 Enterprise Drive. This new building is Quality Chemical’s eighth stand-alone building in the Northchase Industrial Park and is located on a separate property about a third of a mile away from the main campus at 3220 Corporate Drive. Previously, the company underwent a 90,000-squarefoot expansion to its headquarters. With these expansions, Quality Chemical is expected to add 180 jobs over the next three years. Sayed has been leading the local company, which hires and trains UNCW and CFCC graduates. The company also has partnerships with multiple ventures to innovate development and manufacturing processes and

supports COVID-19 vaccine manufacturers through analytical testing services.

OTHER ROLE: UNCW Board of Trustees member

NICHOLAS SMITH CEO & FOUNDER, GEO OWL

icholas Smith, who

the geospatial Nstarted technology solutions

company in 2013, is an Army veteran who was a geospatial analyst working with satellite imagery and geospatial data. After earning a psychology degree from UNCW, Smith served in the U.S. Army Reserve and then worked as a contractor providing fullmotion video analysis for BAE

The Leghorn Team Merrette Moore

Managing Partner Merrette is the Managing Partner of Tidewater Investment Company, overseeing the operations of the firm. Merrette has over 25 years experience working in finance, company management and innovation.

Phoenix Stein

Principal Phoenix’s responsibilities include researching and vetting investment opportunities. She also assists with daily activities as they relate to deal sourcing, fundraising, and operations.

Connor Bolen

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Principal Connor’s responsibilities include sourcing & evaluating potential investments along with supporting portfolio companies. Connor also assists the team through building and analyzing financial models.


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Systems.

WHY HE’S AN INNOVATOR:

Smith used his geospatial technology knowledge to launch Geo Owl. Providing a demanded service in a niche industry has allowed the Wilmington-headquartered technology company to grow as an innovative startup. Currently, the company has about 100 employees, with about 20 located in Wilmington. The company has developed Patternflows, a proprietary software that collects and distributes intelligence derived from aerial or ground-based ISR (intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance operations) and can be used for any intelligence observation. Geo Owl’s primary client is the federal government including U.S. Special Operations Command, the National GeospatialIntelligence Agency, Army and the Marine Forces Special Operations Command,

among others. This year, the company was selected by the U.S. Department of Defense out of hundreds of applications to present at the Pentagon’s Rapid Reaction Technology Office’s Global Solutions meeting, which brought together highly innovative technologies.

DAVE SWEYER FOUNDER, VANTACA

s the founder of CAMS,

community association Aamanagement company,

Dave Sweyer was not able to find software for his company, so he partnered with two developers to create Vantaca in 2016. Besides founding CAMS and Vantaca, a cloud-based, software-as-a-service firm that works with association

management companies, Sweyer is also owner of Sweyer Property Management.

WHY HE’S AN INNOVATOR:

Sweyer has cemented himself as an avid entrepreneur launching and owning a majority/controlling interest in three companies. Collectively, his efforts have employed almost 450 people, with 350 of them working in Southeastern North Carolina. According to Sweyer, CAMS is one of the leading homeowner association management companies in the industry. One of his fastest-growing companies is Vantaca, having made the 2021 Inc. 5000 fastest-growing companies list and winning the technology category at the 2021 Coastal Entrepreneur Awards. This year, Vantaca also also announced a $5 million expansion expected to include doubling its workforce. For this growth, the company received

support from the state’s Job Development Investment Grant and incentives from both the city of Wilmington and New Hanover County.

VOLUNTEERING: Sweyer

is vice chairman of the fundraising campaign at Boy Scouts of America Cape Fear Council.

GEORGE TAYLOR CEO, TRU COLORS

eorge Taylor is founder,

and CEO Gchairman of Wilmington-based

TRU Colors, a business and social mission he started in 2017.

WHY HE’S AN INNOVATOR:

This fall, the long-discussed

The CIE nurtures emerging ventures and connects entrepreneurs to a world of startup support services. Whether you’re from the community or UNCW faculty, staff, student, or alumni, we’re here to accelerate the launch and growth of your business. THE CIE IS OPEN AND ACTIVELY ASSISTING ENTREPRENEURS WITH: · Virtual networking and education programs · Private offices, conference rooms, co-working space, and virtual tenancy · Team-based mentoring · Investor readiness programs · Guidance on grants and other funding · Online Givitas network for giving advice · High school entrepreneurship programs

GROW YOUR NEW VENTURE HERE

Want to help early stage ventures? The CIE welcomes mentors with startup expertise and those with specific industry knowledge and general business experience.

TAP INTO THIS COMMUNITY OF SUPPORT BY JOINING THE CIE TODAY.

www.uncw.edu/cie cie@uncw.edu | 910-962-2206 UNCW is an EEO/AA institution.

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plan for TRU Colors to begin distributing beer from its Wilmington brewery happened with a lager, TRU Light, hitting grocery store shelves in North Carolina. The company said at the time that plans are to distribute regionally in early 2022 and nationally by 2023. Taylor started TRU Colors as a for-profit brewery that hires Wilmington gang members and those involved in the gang community to help combat street violence and unite the community. Earlier this year, it started working from its Greenfield Street headquarters, an overhauled space of the former Century Mills building that houses the company’s offices, brewery and areas that support the social mission and training activities for its gangaffiliated employees. In April, Molson Coors announced it has taken a minority stake in TRU Colors. The national beverage company would also consult with TRU Colors on distribution strategy, brewing operations, brand positioning supplier relationships and other areas to get its product out. Taylor also has secured investments in the company from local business leaders.

EVONNE & DON VARADY CO-FOUNDERS, CLEAN EATZ & CLEAN EATZ KITCHEN

vonne and Don

are the E Varady husband-and-wife

team behind Clean Eatz and Clean Eatz Kitchen. Clean Eatz is a national

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restaurant and meal plan franchise based in Wilmington that was started in 2013. Clean Eatz was inspired by Evonne Varady’s health journey and includes a cafe with build-your-own bowls, sandwiches, flatbreads, burgers and wraps, as well as snacks, smoothies and prepackaged take-home meals. The business also includes Clean Eatz Kitchen, which prepares and delivers weight loss meal plans and meal prep to homes. Don Varady is the CEO of Clean Eatz Franchising, while Jason Nista is the CEO of Clean Eatz Kitchen. Evonne Varady serves as president of both companies and oversees menu development for both.

WHY THEY ARE INNOVATORS:

The Varadys have significantly grown the Wilmington-based Clean Eatz franchise to now 170 franchise licenses nationwide and four distribution centers across the country for Clean Eatz Kitchen. Two of those distribution centers are located in Wilmington and employ 30-40 people between the two. This year, Clean Eatz formed a partnership with Wilmington-based KWIPPED Inc. to allow gyms, convenience stores and other businesses access to financing for refrigeration equipment needed to store prepared meals. This partnership aims to make it easier for businesses interested in selling Clean Eatz meals, and it solves a major hurdle the company was facing when it came to expanding the distribution of its meals.

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PHOTO BY MEGAN DEITZ

SOLANGE “NIKKI” THOMPSON CEO, INDOCHINE RESTAURANT GROUP

olange “Nikki” Thompson has been a pioneer for Asian

Scuisine in Wilmington for 40 years.

WHY SHE’S AN INNOVATOR: She created the iconic Indochine Restaurant at 7 Wayne Drive off Market Street. “I am at my restaurants seven days a week at what seems like all hours of the day. I enjoy being involved, hearing the buzz around the restaurants and letting my team know that I am here for them,” Thompson said. “This helps me to dive into the little details that I love, which makes Indochine and my other stores not just a restaurant but a destination they (diners) can escape to for a moment and also have a great meal.” In December 2020, Thompson opened the first location of her next concept, Indochine Express, in Monkey Junction. She plans to expand this concept in 2022 with restaurants in Porters Neck and Leland. In April, Thompson opened Café Chinois at 3710 S. College Road in Fulton Station. This property marries Thompson’s love of delicious cuisine with beautiful artwork she has curated for many years.


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THE

CONNECTORS

THE REAL-WORLD NETWORKERS WHO BRING TOGETHER PEOPLE AND RESOURCES TO GET THINGS DONE

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Resource Center is “to create a pathway to avoid costly mistakes while providing business owners with the tools they need for long-term success.”

OTHER COUNCIL PROJECTS: Sponsored the Carolina Beach Mural Project

CHAKEMA CLINTONQUINTANA

RHONDA BELLAMY EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, THE ARTS COUNCIL OF WILMINGTON/ NEW HANOVER COUNTY

LAURA BROGDONPRIMAVERA

honda Bellamy has been in the journalism and arts industry for more than 20 years, having been a news director and talk show host for Cumulus Media and then serving as executive director of the local arts council since 2012. The council’s mission is to support artists and arts organizations through public/private partnerships that create jobs, stimulate commerce and showcase the region as an arts destination.

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DIRECTOR OF PROGRAMS AND OPERATIONS, WILMINGTON CHAMBER OF COMMERCE

aura Brogdon-

joined LPrimavera the chamber in May

in her current role after serving as the manager of programs and operations at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington’s Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship. She joined the UNCW CIE in 2013, where she cofounded the Small Business Coalition.

WHY SHE’S A CONNECTOR:

Bellamy has been spearheading the Wilmington Rail Trail project, which seeks to transform an unused railbed in Wilmington into a linear urban park with recreational and cultural amenities. The council was awarded $20,000 for the design and engineering study for this project. The council also facilitated the commission of three public art projects at Wilmington International Airport, including two terrazzo floors and a 21foot stainless steel live oak tree. Throughout 2021, Bellamy has also continued to oversee Fourth Friday Gallery Nights, which is a monthly celebration of art and culture at various downtown Wilmington galleries. This fall, through the council, Bellamy helped administer $200,000 in city of Wilmington American Rescue Plan funds, as well as $50,000 in Grassroots Arts Program grants and $25,000 in Artist Support Grants.

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WHY SHE’S A CONNECTOR:

Brogdon-Primavera has been involved with the Cape Fear Minority Enterprise Development week since it launched in 2015 and has been integral to its growth and expansion. At the chamber, she manages all of its events, councils and leadership programs. She oversees concept development, planning, logistics and directs all on- and off-site events for members. She is involved with the chamber’s 10-month immersive community program Leadership Wilmington. BrogdonPrimavera also serves on the boards of the Cucalorus Film Festival and the Making Waves Foundation, which she chairs. Since joining the chamber, she has assisted in cultivating entrepreneurs while leaning on the connections she made at the UNCW CIE. B

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VP INCLUSIVE SMALL BUSINESS, LIVE OAK BANK

n leading Live Oak’s

Small Business Inew Resource Center, which

will open soon in downtown Wilmington, Chakema Clinton-Quintana focuses on supporting growth for inclusive small businesses. She also serves on the boards of three nonprofit organizations that aim to empower underserved young people to aspire and achieve.

WHY SHE’S A CONNECTOR:

Clinton-Quintana helps individuals and small businesses – especially minority-owned businesses – by connecting them to resources, whether that means a scholarship to attend college, free courses in small business management or financing that enables business growth. She and the bank understand that, while financial help is essential, individuals and small businesses need support networks if they are to prosper. So ClintonQuintana matches students with mentors and small businesses with advisers and partners. Fundraising is another of Clinton-Quintana’s contributions to the community. She’s currently raising money for Work on Wilmington’s 2022 projects and Red Black & Love’s college scholarship fund.

LEARNING FROM OTHERS:

Mistakes are expensive when you’re learning the ropes of business ownership; for minority startups they can be perilous. ClintonQuintana says that the goal of Live Oak’s Small Business

BRENDA DIXON FOUNDER, GET THAT DEED LLC

renda Dixon is a Realtor

owner of Dixon Band Realty. She started Get

That Deed, a program that aids renters in becoming firsttime homeowners by helping them prepare to qualify for a mortgage loan. The nocost program helps people achieve financial stability and tackles the issue of housing affordability, with mortgages often being lower than monthly rent and individuals getting an asset.

WHY SHE’S A CONNECTOR:

As of September, Get That Deed achieved a milestone by helping more than 102 families in the region become first-time homeowners. From Jan. 1 to the end of 2021, it will celebrate helping families purchase over $8 million in real estate. This includes a 19-yearold who purchased a townhome and a 91-yearold who achieved firsttime homeownership. She partners with large- and small-business owners and municipalities to provide information and resources to empower, equip and encourage their employees and residents in obtaining a home. Dixon is a member of the Cape Fear Chapter of NAWIC, a national association for women in construction. She is currently working to expand the success of Get That Deed by creating a duplicatable system that can take the

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AMY GRANT

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OWNER, ART IN BLOOM GALLERY fter retiring from a

in science for Acareer more than 25 years,

Amy Grant founded Art in Bloom Gallery in 2015. The gallery highlights national and local talent, including emerging and established artists. Art in Bloom is in downtown Wilmington at 210 Princess St.

WHY SHE’S A CONNECTOR:

Through her role leading the gallery, Grant has been able to create partnerships with various local entities, from other galleries to businesses to government. This includes a partnership with the Wilmington Convention Center and other downtown galleries to create an art installation and information about galleries within walking distance from the convention center, a popup art exhibit at Mayfaire Town Center, collaboration with Cape Fear Community College’s Wilson Center for the Broadway for a Better World grant review, being a member of the Downtown Business Alliance and more. The goal of these partnerships is to help make Wilmington more visible as an arts destination and highlight the importance of art as an economic agent. Grant also started a student internship program at the gallery and is a board member at DREAMS Center for Arts Education, vice president of the Board of Trustees for Thalian Hall and a member of the New Hanover County Public Library Advisory Board.

GALLERY ARTISTS: Includes about 44 featured artists, plus seven online artists

PHOTO BY DARIA AMATO

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ISABELA LUJAN & GUSTAVO RODEA CO-CHAIRS, LATIN AMERICAN BUSINESS COUNCIL

n 2020, Isabela Lujan, a Realtor, and

Rodea, a business owner, coIGustavo founded the Latin American Business Council to connect local Latin American business owners to resources and highlight their contributions to the local economy.

WHY THEY ARE CONNECTORS: While the pandemic slowed down the business council’s launch in 2020, its efforts ramped up this year with the ability to

host more community events. Efforts this year include educating others about the impact of the Latin American community on the local culture and economy. The organization developed and promoted the inclusion of three programs in Spanish as part of the 2021 Minority Enterprise Development Week as well as business seminars in Spanish. It also connected the Latin American community to obtaining financing for their startups or to grow their businesses. Lujan is working on a database of Latin-owned businesses in the region and she, in collaboration with Coldwell Banker Sea Coast Advantage, has launched Casa de Oro Property Group, a company focused on helping members of the Latin American community access affordable housing and real estate services. Rodea is a graduate of Leadership Wilmington and is also on the board of the local nonprofit Furniture Finders.

CURRENT PROJECT: Study on the

local impact of the Latin American community

CONTINUED FROM p60 program nationwide.

WEEKLY ARTICLE: Get That Deed and Flip Those Keys

MICHEALLE GADY FOUNDER, PRESIDENT & CEO, ATRÓMITOS LLC

ichaelle Gady channeled

background in health Mher policy and health and human

services when she launched Atrómitos (from the Greek word for “fearless”), a consulting firm that works with clients to “create healthier, more resilient and more equitable communities,” according to the firm.

WHY SHE’S A CONNECTOR: Gady

has built a network of seasoned professionals that extends across

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the country and beyond. These experts bring insights and best practices to organizations – a majority of which are health care focused and are trying to make a difference in their communities. Some clients that were doubtful of their survival five years ago are now thriving, thanks to Atrómitos. “It is a really challenging time for health care providers and the community organizations that support them and their patients,” Gady said. “To succeed today they need skills and resources outside of their existing clinical toolbox. It requires an informed business strategy, nimble operations and input from different stakeholders. We provide that and facilitate the partnerships that form the basis for future value and population-based care delivery.”

IN THE PIPELINE: During 2021,

Gady and her staff have seen their clients’ needs in the areas of behavioral health integration and cybersecurity and compliance. They have set a goal to make these disciplines more accessible and affordable in the coming year.

WHY HE’S A CONNECTOR: Last

year, Johnson established the NC BIONEER Venture Challenge, a new initiative that will invite biotechnology innovators in their early stages to apply for monetary awards, intensive monitoring assistance and more. The program will focus on startups with a connection to life sciences. He also created the NC Coast Clinical Research initiative in partnership with local contract research organizations and UNCW. This initiative helps attract talent to the region and grow companies by strengthening the cohesiveness among the clinical research workforce and increasing the number of physician-led clinical research trials in the region. He established the NCEDA’s advisory committee, a board with deep local knowledge and connections with varied business, community, education and economic development ties. Through work with the Southeastern Office, the center has invested millions for research and commercialization in the region.

BOARDS/MENTORSHIPS:

Wilmington Rotary Club, InnovateNC Advisory Council, MARBIONC Community Advisory Board, tekMountain, UNCW CIE

RANDALL JOHNSON EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, N.C. BIOTECHNOLOGY CENTER, SOUTHEASTERN REGION

andall Johnson advances life sciences technology economic development in the region by connecting with key stakeholders and supporting business growth. He was named president of the N.C. Economic Development Association for the 2020-21 term. At the association, he led to the creation of its foundation in 2020, which he has chaired ever since.

R

HEATHER MCWHORTER DIRECTOR, UNCW CIE (INTERIM) & SBTDC

eather McWhorter plays a

role in providing small Hkey businesses with the tools

they need to launch and succeed. She serves as regional director in Wilmington for the SBTDC, Small Business and Technology Development Center, and as interim director for UNCW’s

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SHERI SHAW

ASSISTANT DEAN FOR STUDENT SUCCESS, UNCW COLLEGE OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES n addition to her duties at the CHHS, Sheri Shaw serves

the boards of Leadership North Carolina, Willie IonStargell Foundation, WILMA Leadership Advisory

Board, YWCA Lower Cape Fear and the N.C. Community College Foundation. This year, Shaw was appointed program coordinator for a new program aimed at recruiting and retaining minority students at UNCW.

WHY SHE’S A CONNECTOR: Shaw finds ways to connect

individuals and groups to benefit minority professionals and, ultimately, the community as a whole. One example among many is Three Ladies in Wilmington (3LW), an organization designed to welcome Black professionals new to Wilmington and help them connect with other professionals. Shaw has launched Black Woman Working LLC and moderates a syndicated podcast that enables Black women to share their setbacks and successes in working toward personal and professional goals. In tandem with Truist SVP Sandy Spiers, Shaw has launched Coffee and Conversations, an intimate group of women from different fields and backgrounds who meet for solution-focused discussions about race and diversity challenges.

CREATING CAMPUS NETWORKS: In her position at UNCW’s

CHHS, Shaw has worked to increase student engagement, expand retention initiatives and organize new outreach initiatives to connect in-person, online and extension students within the college, across campus and out in the community.

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Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship.

in community and media relations for 25 years, Linda Rawley Thompson in 2020 took the role of chief diversity and equity officer at the thennewly formed NHC Office of Diversity. The office was established with a mission to promote an inclusive and fair work environment and build a culture and community where people are respected and valued.

and equity assessment for the county. In her role, she also launched a series of webinars to discuss race, reconciliation and community healing. This year, the office created the first Equity Awards event to highlight and honor individuals in the region for their efforts in expanding and elevating equity and diversity. Thompson has been leading efforts at the office to provide free Implicit Bias Training for businesses and organizations in the county. The office helped increase business opportunities for the Minority & Women Business Enterprise Program. Thompson also helped lead outreach efforts to set up COVID-19 vaccination sites for marginalized communities at eight different locations locally.

In the past year, Thompson conducted a 120-day diversity

a series of events for 1898 Commemoration in November

WHY SHE’S A CONNECTOR:

As director of the local SBTDC office, McWhorter serves a multi-county region by counseling, training and assisting businesses and entrepreneurs. Through establishing a state SBTDC curriculum used through UNC System campuses, McWhorter streamlined a process for people with big ideas to actualize their dream. She was named interim director of the CIE in August. At the CIE, McWhorter leads in offering programs, activities and services that foster small business and entrepreneurial innovation in the region. McWhorter is involved in 1 Million Cups, an entrepreneurial initiative, Alliance for the Blue Economy, and the Coalition, a program that allows businesses to band together to more effectively serve the region.

NUMBER OF EMPLOYEES: 14

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LINDA RAWLEY THOMPSON CHIEF DIVERSITY & EQUITY OFFICER, NEW HANOVER COUNTY

fter working with

Wilmington Athe Police Department

WHY SHE’S A CONNECTOR:

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ALSO IN 2021: Worked on

MEADE VAN PELT EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, THE JO ANN CARTER HARRELSON CENTER

or the past five years,

Van Pelt has FMeade overseen The Harrelson Center, a nexus of nonprofits housed in the former county jail facility in downtown Wilmington. She also serves on three nonprofit boards to help her understand disparities, identify gaps and increase access to services among the community’s underserved population.

WHY SHE’S A CONNECTOR:

Think of The Harrelson Center as a generator, powering a variety of social service organizations that address the social


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determinants of health. Van Pelt and the center’s staff and board provide the fuel to run the generator. “My role is to effectively develop and provide for a thriving, sustainable network of nonprofits, leading and mobilizing our staff, board and all community resources to build reliable, safe and equitable access for all residents to new connections and unlimited opportunity,” Van Pelt said. Currently, she leads the center’s Unlock Hope capital campaign to double its campus, and recently adding a 300-person event space. She is committed to securing the final $1 million in 2022.

VISION FOR THE FUTURE: Van

Pelt wants The Harrelson Center to expand into providing full community service navigation for residents of the city and county. The center has applied to become this region’s Healthy Opportunities pilot, serving as a human service organization in the tri-county area.

AVERY WASHINGTON II CITY AMBASSADOR, BUNKER LABS very Washington II is

A

the city ambassador for the Wilmington chapter of Bunker Labs as well as a real estate broker with Wilmington-based Coldwell Banker Sea Coast Advantage’s Hampstead office. He is also

the vice president of Suiting Warriors and a member of the board of Cape Fear Collective.

WHY HE’S A CONNECTOR:

Washington, an Army veteran, works with veteran organizations to increase

Congratulations, Steve DeBiasi, For Emerging Among The Top 100

awareness of veteran-owned and/or operated businesses in the Cape Fear region. As city ambassador for Bunker Labs, a nonprofit that provides resources for veteran entrepreneurs, he coordinates events, including marketing them, securing venues and scheduling speakers. Washington assisted Suiting Warriors with its October Suit Drive to collect professional attire for service members transitioning to the private sector. A board member of nonprofit Cape Fear Collective, Washington assisted the organization in the acquisition of 39 residential units for the creation of a portfolio of affordable housing.

CAREER: As a broker with

Coldwell Banker Sea Coast Advantage, Washington assists clients in the sale or purchase of homes and incomegenerating property.

Under DeBiasi’s decades of leadership, our practice has emerged stronger, healthier and better than ever. Congratulations on being named among The Influencers in WilmingtonBiz’s Top 100 people who are impacting business in southeastern North Carolina—and for your role in keeping our medical and business communities so healthy!

Emerge Stronger. Healthier. Better. Stephen DeBiasi | CEO, EmergeOrtho Wilmington Region

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THE

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THE NEXT GENERATION OF LEADERS WHO ARE ALREADY MAKING WAVES (limited to those 35 years old and younger)

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WEBSTER BURRIER IV DIRECTOR OF WEALTH MANAGEMENT, DOMINION WEALTH MANAGEMENT

ebster Burrier runs the day-to-day operations of his firm and is involved in the trading and management of client investment portfolios and the financial planning process. He acts as a liaison between his clients and their other professional advisers, such as accountants, estate attorneys and real estate agents. His responsibilities also include working closely with Dominion’s marketing and technology departments to make sure all systems are integrated.

W

WHY HE’S A RISING STAR:

Burrier has created an in-depth technology suite that works with Dominion’s business model to make wealth management services more accessible to people, especially younger clients.

COMMUNITY SERVICE: Burrier is a committee chair with the Wilmington Walk to End Alzheimer’s and a volunteer with Access Wilmington. He serves on the StepUp Wilmington’s Young Professionals board and volunteers with the Plastic Ocean Project.

JARETT GATTISON DIRECTOR, COMMUNITY BOYS & GIRLS CLUB

arett Gattison in 2019

the Community Jjoined Boys & Girls Club of

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Wilmington, where he serves as director, overseeing all operations. The role is full circle for Gattison, who was originally a member of the club while growing up in Wilmington. Before being named director, Gattison worked at Communities in Schools as a student support specialist at Williston Middle School for three years.

WHY HE’S A RISING STAR: In

his role at the Boys & Girls Club, Gattison brought back the summer youth employment program, which had been dormant for several years. The program hires teens between the ages of 14 and 18 and provides them with workforce development skills as junior staff members. He also helped create the

Aria Paris Teen Basketball League, which launched during the pandemic when school sports were paused. The program helped get students active and also provided an opportunity for skilled players to get filmed and seen by college coaches. Two students participating in the league during its inaugural season secured athletic scholarships. The Boys & Girls Club facility on Nixon Street has been renovated from top to bottom under Gattison’s watch.

NUMBER OF EMPLOYEES: 12

PARTNER, EAST WEST PARTNERS

arolina Beach resident

Siegel leads CMcKay major development

projects in Wilmington for his Chapel Hill-based firm.

WHY HE’S A RISING STAR:

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MANAGER OF OSP ENGINEERING GIS/CAD, ATMC

ess than two years

joining ATMC as Lafter a GIS analyst, Taylor

Kash became the leader and manager of the communication cooperative’s GIS (geographic information system) team. He developed and designed the database used by employees to view company plant data, ATMC’s first step toward advancing its process of collecting and reviewing key data vital for the cooperative’s growth.

WHY HE’S A RISING STAR:

MCKAY SIEGEL

Recently promoted to the position of partner, Siegel has helped add to the evolution of downtown Wilmington in recent years through East West projects. Those projects include River Place, a 13-story development that brought 171 residential units and 32,000 square feet of retail to the heart of downtown, and coworking space Common Desk, which is bringing existing and new companies to Wilmington. Common Desk required the total overhaul of the building at 226 N. Front St. “McKay’s very high standard of excellence was on full display in the renovation of 226 Front Street …. McKay, while immersed in the construction of River Place, took the lead on 226, seizing the opportunity to be a creative problem

TAYLOR KASH

solver, while respecting the building’s history and architecture,” said Roger Perry, president and founder of East West Partners.

PENDING PROJECTS:

Developments planned in the area that Siegel is leading include The Range at Oleander, which could include 339 apartments, 14,000 square feet of retail and 10% workforce housing on Oleander Drive in Wilmington; the Northern Gateway project, a more-than-$90 million development that could add high-rise apartments and grocery, hotel, retail and office space to downtown; and Project Indigo, a nearly 400-acre development near Southport.

In acquainting ATMC’s employees with the new GIS mapping system, Kash and his team have seen how GIS can be used in a variety of departments to increase efficiency and have redesigned workflows to better suit the GIS system. Kash helped ATMC land $42 million in grant funds that are being used to develop 1,150 miles of broadband service in the company’s service area. This digital infrastructure will provide essential internet access to more than 16,500 underserved addresses in rural Pender, Duplin, Brunswick, Columbus and Robeson counties.

INFORMATION ACCESS:

Kash says it’s essential for everyone to have a reliable internet connection. Once these projects are complete, families and small businesses in these rural communities will be connected to the information highway that has bypassed them until now, enabling them to benefit from online resources.

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ROBERT PARKER SENIOR PROJECT MANAGER, CAPE FEAR SOLAR SYSTEMS n his position with CFSS, Robert Parker oversees day-to-day operations, identifies and hires new skilled workers and fosters the development of the company’s existing employees. He also works with business owners to design and install solar systems that save them money and meet environmental goals.

I

WHY HE’S A RISING STAR:

Parker helped Cape Fear Solar Systems grow to become the No. 1 solar installer in Southeastern North Carolina. He designed and managed the installation of Wilmington’s largest solar arrays for Coastal Beverage Co., Live Oak Bank and Trinity Landing, a new retirement community off Masonboro Loop Road. While the company is still working with Trinity Landing developer WM Jordan on that comprehensive design and installation project, the company has dozens of residential solar projects scheduled for completion before the end of 2021. Other commercial projects are in the works as well, according to Parker.

LEAN AND GREEN: Parker says

that Cape Fear Solar Systems provides cleanly produced electricity for home and business operations that also saves its customers significant money on monthly expenses.

PHOTO BY ARIS HARDING

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HAYLEY LUCKADOO MARKETING COACH & MOTIVATIONAL SPEAKER, LUCKADOO MEDIA CO.

s a sole proprietor, Hayley

coaches clients, ALuckadoo speaks to audiences, records podcast episodes and creates content and resources to help other entrepreneurs grow their businesses.

WHY SHE’S A RISING STAR:

The “Media” in Luckadoo’s company name reflects her interest in and mastery of multiple media channels. She has been featured in outlets such as Medium, Fox, NBC, Foundr and more than 40 podcasts. Her podcast is called Females on Fire. Besides appearing in media outlets, she coaches small businesses on how to increase their impact and sales through social media, she speaks and blogs on motivational topics, and she’s working on a book to encourage women to step out of their “boxes” and find their path. “When you’re motivating other people to change and leave their own stamp on the world, the possibility for impact is endless,” Luckadoo said.

finance and operations to ED last spring, sees her primary responsibility as leading the staff to create a thriving community where everyone has the opportunity to live in a sustainable and affordable home.

WHY SHE’S A RISING STAR:

McKenzie has developed financial opportunities that allow the organization to help more people: CFHH will soon serve its 500th family. She rebooted the Women Build program and developed a natural disaster program. In 2020, McKenzie created the organization’s fiveyear strategic plan. She plans to make CFHH more sustainable by fostering more relationships with large corporations as well as with individuals, small businesses and faith-based organizations. She also aims to enlarge the organization’s volunteer base, expand its ReStore presence and establish a campus she envisions as “a center for innovation, education and empowerment.” She serves on the boards of the New Hanover Disaster Coalition and Habitat NC as well as being active in the Cape Fear Housing Coalition, WILMA Leadership Institute and the Pender Long-Term Recovery Group.

OUTREACH DIRECTOR, YWCA LOWER CAPE FEAR

haniqua Palmer’s

include Jresponsibilities overseeing YWCA’s

EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, CAPE FEAR HABITAT FOR HUMANITY

auren McKenzie, who

promoted from Lwas her position as Cape Fear Habitat’s director of

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STRATEGIC PARTNERSHIP COORDINATOR, NORTHSIDE FOOD COOPERATIVE

ierra Washington forges new partnerships for the

Food Cooperative as well as planning and CNorthside conducting community engagement events. She also

manages the organization’s marketing and communication efforts.

WHY SHE’S A RISING STAR: Washington works to bring more

JHANIQUA PALMER

LAUREN MCKENZIE

CIERRA WASHINGTON

Advocacy & Racial Justice programming, the Grandparent Support Network and YWCA’s New Choices Economic Empowerment program, which has three programs to help women with entrepreneurship, job skills and financial literacy. B

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healthy options to Wilmington’s Northside food desert. She helped start Frankie’s Outdoor Market in the Northside community to improve residents’ access to fresh food before a grocery store can be developed. Her other food-related initiatives include creating a community garden next to the Hemenway Community Center where Voyage youth participants can learn about growing their own food; facilitating the Southeastern NC Health Educators Network; and piloting a project that provides funding and applied learning opportunities for students seeking a degree in a health-related field. And, working through the Northside Food Cooperative and its growing number of partners, she’s determined to bring a grocery store to the neighborhood.

HISTORY NOTE: “Prior to 1898, the Northside of Wilmington was a thriving Black community, home to over 50 foodrelated businesses,” Washington said. “After the 1898 coup, most of those Black-owned businesses disappeared. About 35 years ago, the only grocery store in the Northside closed down.”


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WHY SHE’S A RISING STAR:

During the racial unrest in the summer of 2020, local businesses began contacting the YWCA Lower Cape Fear asking for diversity training programs. In addition to providing those resources, Palmer helped spearhead the organization’s series of monthly conversations about race and diversity. She said she and her colleagues are passionate about helping companies bridge gaps, hold difficult conversations and create an atmosphere that allows individuals to be themselves. Palmer has enjoyed collaborating with a growing number of other area organizations to find and develop resources YWCA clients need to thrive.

PLUGGING IN: Palmer’s

impact isn’t limited to what she does through the YWCA. She’s involved with a cornucopia of issues and efforts: everything from racial

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justice to her Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority to UNCW’s Gender Studies & Research Center to the Senior Resource Center’s Master Aging Plan.

BARNES SUTTON DIRECTOR OF PLANNING AND DEVELOPMENT, NAVASSA

s planning chief of the

Brunswick Anorthern County town of Navassa,

Barnes Sutton is in charge of the comprehensive community planning and implementation of responsibilities regarding urban design, historic preservation, community revitalization and development, the area’s greenway, urban forestry and

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multimodal transportation.

WHY HE’S A RISING STAR:

Sutton is the planning leader in a town poised for major growth. Recently, his focus has been on ecotourism and climate resiliency. “The project has been to identify substantial wetlands, swamp forests and riparian buffers within or near the Special Flood Hazard Area that are in conservation as well as identifying adjacent parcels of land that can be added to the conservation portfolio,” Sutton said. “This effort will create a corridor that allows for natural mechanisms for reducing storm surge, recharging groundwater and creating a diverse habitat while also allowing for the installation of nature trails and water access points for ecotourists to recreate, thereby enriching both experiences.” He has also been assisting with the Resilient Coastal Communities

Program to address barriers such as limited capacity, economic constraints and social inequities through developing a portfolio of planned and prioritized projects leading towards shovel-readiness or implementation. Other roles include coordinating the development of a Comprehensive Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan and managing Navassa’s enrollment in the Community Rating System Program that will discount flood insurance premiums for residents and businesses.

ADDITIONAL ROLE: As

Floodplain and Stormwater Manager, Sutton verifies compliance for floodplain development; manages the Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) program; and researches and prepares flood determinations and elevation certificates.


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PROFILE

ACORN HUNTER ENTREPRENEUR RICHARD JOHNSON FINDS HIS LATEST VENTURE AMONG THE LIVE OAKS

M

S T O RY & P H O T O B Y J O H A N N A F. S T I L L

eet Richard Johnson 3.0. The one-time, big-city business titan of HotJobs.com fame has evolved into his latest stage, one he calls “social entrepreneurism.”

The first Johnson prototype was a man brimming with innovation, hustle and ill-advised risk. In ’99, he mortgaged his home to buy a 30-second Super Bowl ad for his company, the commercial costing nearly half the site’s total annual revenues. The trick paid off, garnering press coverage, driving up HotJobs’ notoriety and use. Yahoo bought it two years later for $458 million. His second self-iteration involved creating nonprofits, notably founding Masonboro.org in 2009. Today’s Johnson is engulfed in a series of social endeavors, honing in on a specific purpose. He founded, for one, Burgaw Now in 2019, which is infusing select businesses with capital and mentorship in an effort to boost foot traffic in the downtown rural square. Tucked away off Stag Park Road in Burgaw, Johnson spends most of his business energy at Penderlea Farms, a 500-acre property he initially bought to play around at in 2016 in an auction. “I think every kid growing up in Pennsylvania in the middle of nowhere wants a farm,” he said. It was a place he could bring his four daughters, skeet

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shoot, ride ATVs, host campfires. Before he bought it, the property was home to the late David Howard’s Burgaw Creek Nursery; Johnson made use of the lines of young oaks already there from the old nursery, bought a tree spade and began moving them around the property to his liking, framing a freshly dug pond. After juggling other crop ideas, it took him two years and 11 months to realize the farm should remain a nursery. This nursery would be different. A marketing guru, Johnson positioned Penderlea Farms as protagonist to a villain: Floridian Cathedral live oaks, the foremost oak sought by landscapers and nurseries in the region. A genetically altered lineage favored by developers, Cathedrals grow straight up, bred to rid the plant of its parent’s gnarling, winding character, according to Johnson. He said he finds the proliferation of genetically altered live oaks in the region “offensive.” “Friends don’t let friends buy Florida trees,” Penderlea’s unofficial tagline goes. Penderlea live oaks are exclusively grown from local North Carolina native oaks, preferably at least a century old. Johnson has secured agreements with a swath of property owners to stow away acorns from worthy live oaks in the region: Fort Fisher’s canopy, Hampstead’s George Washington (the chained-off Highway 17 landmark), Wrightsville Beach loop’s oaks, the Airlie Oak and its sisters. While riding the perimeter one Wednesday last month, Johnson pulled an abrupt U-turn, apologized for being obsessive-compulsive and tracked down a worker in the field to make sure

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branches weren’t pruned any higher than about shoulder height. Penderlea trees will be pruned less than industry standard, Johnson said, leaving room for crawling, low-lying branches to flourish. Though he’ll still maintain a batch of trees pruned to current nursery standards, for now, Johnson said landscapers aren’t yet interested in his more unique collection. “It will take them a while to get them to convert to: Not every tree needs to be a cookie-cutter tree for my development,” he said. This year, Johnson personally collected 10,000 acorns. About 30,000 are stowed in a refrigerator on the farm, waiting to be cycled in as staff plant about 500 a day. Not all take root, but those that do make it out of the greenhouse and into the ground. In September, Johnson was desperate. Acorn production was dry (last year, he swept up 500 from the Airlie Oak; this year, it gave him just two). Wrightsville Beach Brewery’s flagship beauty secured the season when he stowed away 3,000 acorns in one day. “That saved us,” he said. “Every single one of these has to live.” In 2019, his first season collecting, he unintentionally torched thousands of acorns while experimenting with a heating process to rid the nuts of a pesky larvae. “Mass casualty,” he said. (He has since dialed in the stovetop pest repellent routine.) Johnson admits he had no idea what he was doing getting into the nursery business. He’s leaned on Dave Jordan as a mentor, who previously owned North American Nursery Inc., also in Burgaw, while a restless mind drives the rest.


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PROFILE

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It takes five years to grow a 2.5-inch caliper tree, sold in a 25-gallon bucket – the standard size sought by developers, typically the starting point in landscaping plans. He’s halfway there: “Two-and-ahalf years from now, we’ll find out whether this whole shebang works.” He said he’s losing hundreds of thousands of dollars a year on the enterprise. Still, he has a degree of confidence in its eventual success, and as someone who doesn’t need to make money, he has no profit motive, though he’d like to break even. “Not everything has to be a zero-sum game,” he said. So far, a few nurseries and landscapers have caught onto what Johnson’s doing, though he won’t be truly open for business on the retail side until his first propagated batch reaches 2.5 inches by summer 2023 (Penderlea is open by appointment only for customers interested in smaller oaks in the meantime). For his plan to work, he’ll have to sell 4,000 trees a year, targeting a mostly wholesale audience. “If we can get to 25% retail, we might even be a little profitable,” he said. With the time and resources to do next to anything, why choose live oaks? “I’ve found any worthwhile venture takes five years before you know if it’s going to be successful,” he said. “The question is not the idea. The question is, what are you willing to commit five years to?” Johnson aims to change landscapers’ buying habits by driving demand on the retail side, with customers demanding distinctive Penderlea trees over Cathedrals. Like his other 3.0 undertakings, Johnson is toying with the code to imbue a noticeable societal shift. If Penderlea catches on, he hopes to restore the region’s landscaping for decades to come. “You’ve got to do things you enjoy doing,” he said. “And I enjoy being in a ladder picking acorns.”


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ON SET

EAST HOLLYWOOD’S CONTINUED GROWTH COULD DEPEND ON TRAINING MORE FILM INDUSTRY WORKERS

BY JENNY CALLISON

UNCW film students work at the university’s new soundstage. The school this year added graduate programs in film to train more students for the industry.

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PHOTO C/O UNCW

WO MAJOR ANNOUNCEMENTS AFFECTING THE AREA’S FILM INDUSTRY CAME WITHIN DAYS OF EACH OTHER IN EARLY NOVEMBER.

The Wilmington City Council approved a grant of $400,000 in American Rescue Plan funds to finance a five-week workforce training program for up to 90 people who would like to learn a

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trade in the film industry. And Hollywood Reporter announced that an independent fantasy adventure film starring Mel Gibson will begin production this month in Wilmington. The movie, Boys of Summer, will cap off what Wilmington Regional Film Commission Director Johnny Griffin calls “the biggest year in our history,” with an estimated spend by projects in the Wilmington area alone of about $350 million. The two developments are closely related. With a


high level of demand for new feature films, television shows who could not otherwise afford to take time off to learn and streamed content, and the soundstages and offices on a new trade. Enrollees will be matched with seasoned the EUE/Screen Gems Wilmington lot are booked solid: professionals who will teach and mentor them, according just ask Executive Vice President Bill Vassar. to McGlamery. IATSE will manage the training. Wilmington-based film crews are stretched thin – there “Our intent is to have passionate teachers who have have been as many as 1,200-1,300 people working on local been doing their crafts for 25-to-30-plus years. Maybe they films daily recently, Griffin said. are not polished professors, but they are consummate Add to that the studios’ calls for a more diverse film professionals,” she said, adding that the program does not workforce, and you have a clear need for require a college degree, but rather a steady, well-trained pipeline of behindis looking to include people coming the-scenes talent that looks more like the from a variety of backgrounds. WE’ R E EXC ITED audiences the studios’ productions hope to “If there are people out there capture. The rise of streamed content, with who are just a tad bit creative, who A BOUT IT. N ETFL IX , its hurry-up approach, has added impetus have serious critical thinking skills, WA R N ER BR OTH ER S, to expand the available talent. film and TV production is certainly “With (feature) movies, there are a viable career option that they UN IVER SA L – TH EY ’ R E target opening dates the studios plan for; might not have had in the past,” TA L K IN G TO US with television, you’re looking at spring or she said. “If we don’t reach out, (the fall,” Vassar said. “With streaming services, film trades) stay homogeneous.” SP EC IFICA L LY A BOUT it’s ‘When we finish this, we’ll stream it.’ It’s not just film industry ‘ LET’ S DO BETTER ; L ET’ S Streaming is a whole new paradigm, and specialists, like grips and gaffers, it’s not that predictable right now.” that are needed as the work piles LOOK MOR E L IK E TH E Top officials in many studios have in this region. Shortages extend COMMUN ITIES WE WOR K up committed themselves to finding and to skills as diverse as accounting WITH .’ WE’ VE SP EN T hiring a more diverse workforce, according and welding, McGlamery said. to Susi Hamilton, interim board chair “We’ve lost a lot of A LOT OF TIME AT TH E for the newly formed Film Partnership accountants,” she said. “If you like BA R GA IN IN G TA BL E of North Carolina, whose primary aim working with numbers and can sit is to help people of many backgrounds, TALK IN G A BOUT TH IS, A N D still, that’s a craft that’s in need. especially women and minorities, train for The entertainment industry is an WIL MIN GTON IS A GR EAT odd bird; the hours are different; jobs in the industry. “Most film-related jobs are behind the it’s not like working in a bank. Or P L AC E TO DO IT. N OW scenes,” she said. “Traditionally – like any you may have had welding in high TH ER E A R E FIN A N C IA L other trade, because most jobs are tradeschool, and you’re able to fabricate. oriented – those skills are handed down Those skill sets are invaluable. If OP P ORTUN ITIES. from generation to generation. So, the you are willing to learn, you should trade is a group that looks like each other. be able to come into this industry.” DARLA MCGLAMERY It’s time now to pull all interested parties Trainees will also hear from business agent to the table and give (lots of people) the local vendors, learning what smallIATSE Local 491 opportunity to train for a rewarding career. and medium-sized businesses in The more hands-on the experience you the area provide for film projects. offer, the better.” Some of the more specialized vendors – suppliers of Members of local 491 of the International Alliance cameras, lenses, props, sound grip and lighting, for of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) will be front and example – have moved to larger hubs of film production center of this initiative. such as Atlanta. “We’re excited about it,” said Darla McGlamery, “It’s not uncommon to reach out to a (supplier) who is business agent for Local 491, which represents many craft traveling to pick up stuff,” McGlamery said. film workers. “Netflix, Warner Brothers, Universal – they’re Brad Walker agrees that Wilmington now lacks as many talking to us specifically about ‘let’s do better; let’s look outlets for rental of film-production equipment. Walker, comore like the communities we work with.’ We’ve spent a owner of independent production studio Lighthouse Films, lot of time at the bargaining table talking about this, and said his company was tempted to try and fill that void. Wilmington is a great place to do it. Now there are financial “We were really hustling to rent gear, but then asked opportunities.” ourselves: Who are we? We’re content creators,” he said. Since Wilmington’s program will pay participants “So, equipment rental is only secondary. We continue to do $15 per hour to train, with the possibility of overtime pay it, but not at the expense of our people and our business.” if needed, the local film industry could attract people His wife and fellow Lighthouse Productions owner

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PHOTO BY MICHAEL CLINE SPENCER

LOCAL FILM OFFICIALS: Susi Hamilton (from left), Bill Vassar and Johnny Griffin work to help current productions and work on ways to attract new ones.

Andrea Walker said the company’s business model is a balancing act, since they want to support their colleagues in a tight-knit and mutually supportive

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film community but must also provide for their own needs. “Our rule of thumb is that if our team is not using the equipment, we are

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happy to rent it to fellow filmmakers,” she said. Another way Lighthouse supports the film community is with passthroughs, in which the company acts as a local broker for out-of-state vendors of equipment and supplies. “We charge a 4% markup so (projects) can qualify for the tax rebate,” Brad Walker said. “We’re doing that for four projects right now.” If the Wilmington region needs to build a sustainable, diverse supply of film workers and find predictable sources of specialized equipment, is there also a shortage of filmmaking facilities? Andrea Walker thinks so. “With the extensive filming going on in our area, we are in need of another studio,” she said. “This additional infrastructure will attract filmmakers to our area. This will also encourage up-and-coming filmmakers to remain in Wilmington instead of seeking opportunities in Atlanta, New York or Los Angeles.” “More facilities would be great, and there is demand right now, but building another soundstage, for instance, is a risk,” Vassar said. He acknowledged that EUE/Screen Gems’ property could accommodate more facilities but added that his studio has not lost a production that has gone elsewhere because he couldn’t find space for them. Local film officials also don’t plan to advocate for changes to the state’s grant-based film incentive. It’s attracting projects. Boys of Summer represents the kind of small feature film that works very well with the current incentive, and there are still plenty of similar projects that prefer Wilmington to, say, Atlanta, Griffin said. “We want to leave it alone and work it for a while,” he said. “The fact that the (funding) sunset provision has been removed, and that there’s stable funding for the incentive program, and that HB2 (the ‘Bathroom Bill’) has gone away, is all good. When we had HB2, Disney and Netflix wouldn’t come here. Now we’ve got a Disney series and several Netflix projects. They represent a total of about $200 million from companies that wouldn’t do business with us when we had the Bathroom Bill.”


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RESTAURANT R O U ND U P

RESTAURANT ROUNDUP

a DECADE of

cheers BY JENNY CALLISON

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| PHOTO BY TERAH WILSON


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IT’S BEEN A THREE-YEAR JOURNEY, BUT WILMINGTON BREWING CO.’S NEW EVENT SPACE AT 800 S. KERR AVE. RECENTLY OPENED FOR BUSINESS. Owners John and Michelle Savard held a soft opening in mid-November in the roughly 5,000-square-foot space that opens on one side to a deck running the length of the building. Seating on this porch overlooks a wooded area with a stream. The 3-acre lot is adjacent to the brewery and taproom’s existing location at 842 S. Kerr Ave. The Venue’s sleek interior contains a bar stocked with 15 of the company’s brews and a small shop with company-branded merchandise. Patrons can sit at tables or in a corner conversation area furnished with sofas and chairs. Shuffle bowling and foosball games are available. The Venue, as it’s called, can accommodate more than 200 people, according to Michelle Savard. The new parking lot has 56 spaces. There are plans for food trucks to stop at The Venue each week from Wednesday through Sunday. Dogwood Architecture designed the space, and Christopher Building Co. was the general contractor. The Coastal Manifest worked on all The Venue’s interior design. While The Venue is designed for special events, it will serve an additional purpose for the next year or so, Michelle Savard said. “We’re going to use it as our taproom while our old taproom

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next door is renovated,” she said. “This will give us a chance to love on our old business space.” Michelle Savard said she wasn’t sure exactly how long those renovations would take, but it could be “hopefully give or take one year, so we will operate Venue as taproom until renovations are complete.” The planned renovation at Wilmington Brewing Co.’s space will include adding fermentation space, allowing the brewery to can and keg more beer. “The canning operation has really grown and is going great,” Michelle Savard said. The Savards launched their operations in 2012. It opened originally in the space at 4405A Wrightsville Ave. that’s now occupied by Hey! Beer Bottle Shop before moving to its current location. During Wilmington’s early days of the brewery boom – before there were multiple sprawling taprooms and a buffet of locally canned options – the couple started out catering to homebrewing aficionados. At the Wrightsville Avenue shop – less than a mile from their growing campus now – the Wilmington natives stocked the ingredients, equipment and kits to cater to homebrewers, from novices to those with experience. Before they moved back to Wilmington, the couple both lived in Beer City USA while attending the University of North Carolina at Asheville. Home at the time to alreadyestablished Highland Brewing Co. and Catawba Valley Brewing Co., Asheville’s brewing scene was quickly exploding. A few years later the activity would draw the attention of Sierra Nevada Brewing Co., which announced in 2012 that it planned to build its East Coast

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brewing, bottling and distribution at a $100 million-plus facility outside Asheville. While in Asheville, the couple started homebrewing. John Savard worked at a packaging brewery and then later at a homebrew supply store. That knowledge and community building were things they brought here when they opened Wilmington Homebrew Supply. In the summer of 2014, the couple moved the supplies store to their larger, current digs on Kerr Avenue. The 11,000-square-foot building housed not only the retail shop but marked their move into being able to brew, serve and sell their own beer as well. The taproom became a spot for newcomers, regulars and families at the outdoor beer garden space. As the Savards continue to spread out physically with The Venue and expand their brewing activity through the upcoming renovation, one aspect of their early days in business nearly a decade ago won’t be moving forward with them. “After 10 great years, we will no longer be selling homebrewing supplies,” Michelle Savard said. “We will utilize the shop space as well as our old taproom to renovate and create one larger taproom for our brewery at 824 S. Kerr Ave. “We are forever grateful to our start as a homebrew supply store, but we are pivoting our business model,” she added, “and we know we need a bigger taproom to create a fun community environment just as The Venue is doing now.” -Editor Vicky Janowski contributed to this story. For more restaurant news, sign up for the Business Journal's weekly Restaurant Roundup email by going to WilmingtonBiz.com. W I N T E R 2021

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THE TAKEAWAY

SWELL SHAPER

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ason Meyer last year started Quiver Concepts, a maker of hand-shaped surfboards based in Wilmington. For each order, he works with the rider to customize their board, factoring in things such as skill level and type of surfing they plan to do. Meyer starts with blanks from Green Room Board Co., a Wilmington manufacturer of surfboard composites, and then hand shapes the boards before sending them off to another local company, Savage Surfboards, to paint, glass and polish for finishing. “One of the main reasons I started shaping was to make new, fun and different boards than I could find for sale in surf shops – asymmetric shapes, unique designs, customized art, etc.,” Meyer said. “I always encourage people to just have fun, and I love to make boards that make them stoked every time they go surf.” PHOTO BY DARIA AMATO

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