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Wilmington B iz M A G A Z I N E

JIM FLECHTNER John Gizdic Brett Martin Jim Morton

Jose Sartarelli

DAN BRAWLEY

Jay Wileman Julie Wilsey

MIKE ASHCRAFT

Carter

DAVID SIMMONS David Swain Trask Family

Mebane Boyd

Michele Holbrook

Ben David

Steve Anderson

Chris Boney

Ryan Legg

TIM MILAM Rusty

Chris Coudriet Ken Dull Jeff Earp

Brian Eckel JOHN ELLIOTT

Leslie Smith

John Monteith

Terry Espy Natalie English Cameron Family

Shane Fernando Huntley Garriott JIM WALLACE Donna Girardot

Rhonda

Bellamy Bobby Harrelson Randall Johnson Lauren Henderson Dick Jones

HAL KITCHIN Charlie Mattox PAUL COZZA Sandy & Ronnie Mcneill Jeff Morvil

Mark Maynard

Chad Paul Chris Reid

Burrows Smith

Swinny Bill Vassar Gwen Whitley Ed Wolverton

Yousry Sayed Jason

SHELBOURN STEVENS Ash

Aziz Tom Clifford Chris Cox Diane Durance Judy Girard

Jeremy Tomlinson

Duane Hixon Jeff James Richard Johnson Michael McWhorter

Carson

Bowen

Fred Meyers Dave Nathans Pete Peterson Karl Ricanek Michael

Satrazemis

JENNIFER MCCALL Gus Simmons Dave Spetrino Dave Sweyer

George Taylor Jennifer Turnage Neil Underwood Amy Wright John

FINTECH’S POWER DUO

Monteith

Alison Baringer English Evelyn Bryant Rob Burrus Jerry Coleman Dana Cook

LIVE OAK BANK’S CHIP MAHAN AND NCINO’S PIERRE NAUDÉ USHER IN THECharlie INAUGURAL WILMINGTONBIZ 100 STEPHANIE LANIER Tracey Newkirk Tammy Johnny Griffin Hardy

Proctor Jim Roberts Dallas Romanowski Elizabeth Barfield Zane

Bennett

2019 Kathryn Bruner Jenna Curry GDavid Morrison Kurt Taylor JudWINTER Watkins reater Wilmington G W Published by

Published by

reater ilmington BUSINESS BUSINESS JOURNAL JOURNAL


(910) 395-6036 | WWW.MCKINLEYBUILDING.COM HIGH-PERFORMANCE SERVICE THROUGH A HIGH-PERFORMANCE CULTURE


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JIM FLECHTNER John Gizdic Brett Martin Jim Morton Leslie Smith Jose Sartarelli DAN BRAWLEY DAVID SIMMONS David

Swain Trask Family Jay Wileman Julie Wilsey Mebane

Boyd Steve

Anderson Ryan Legg MIKE ASHCRAFT Michele Holbrook Chris Boney TIM

MILAM Rusty Carter Ben David Chris Coudriet Ken

Dull Jeff Earp John

Espy

Monteith Brian Eckel JOHN ELLIOTT Terry WILMINGTONBIZ 100

Natalie English

Cameron Family

Shane Fernando Huntley C O V E R S T O R Y:

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NTECH Garriott JIM WALLACE Chip Mahan Donna GirardotF IRhonda

Bellamy Bobby Harrelson Randall Johnson

POWER

24 PHenderson Lauren LAYERS

ENCERS 32 I N F&L URonnie Dick Jones HAL KITCHIN Charlie Mattox PAUL COZZA Sandy

McNeill Jeff Morvil

Smith

NOVATORS 46 I NBurrows Mark Maynard Chad Paul Chris Reid

CONNECTORS 56 Whitley Yousry Sayed Jason Swinny Bill Vassar Gwen Ed

Wolverton

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RISING STARS

SHELBOURN STEVENS Ash Aziz Tom Clifford Chris Cox

Diane Durance Judy Girard

Jeremy Tomlinson

Duane Hixon Jeff

James RICHARD JOHNSON Pierre Naudé Michael McWhorter

Carson Bowen

Fred Meyers Dave Nathans Pete Peterson Karl

Ricanek Michael Satrazemis

JENNIFER MCCALL Gus Simmons Dave

Spetrino Dave Sweyer George Taylor Jennifer Turnage Neil Underwood Amy Wright John

Monteith Alison Baringer English Evelyn Bryant

Rob Burrus Jerry Coleman Dana Cook Johnny Griffin Charlie Hardy

STEPHANIE LANIER Tracey Newkirk Tammy Proctor Jim Roberts Dallas Romanowski Elizabeth Barfield Bruner 2

Zane Bennett

Kathryn

JENNA CURRY David Morrison Kurt Taylor Jud Watkins Wi

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

F E AT U R E S

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BUILDING THE AREA'S ATTRACTIONS

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NAVASSA: SMALL TOWN ON THE VERGE

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RESTAURANT ROUNDUP: GULFSTREAM EXPANDS

ON THE COVER

70 photo by Chris Brehmer

Designer Suzi Drake talks with Chip Mahan and Pierre Naudé during their cover shoot while at nCino’s offices. Lining up their schedules for the photographs was no small feat now that both companies have grown significantly and nCino now has international offices that keep Naudé traveling more than ever.

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LETTER FROM THE EDITOR

Making a list,

checking it twice

Q

uick. Name 100 people you think are just killing it – who are making an impact in our area, who are helping move the needle, who are getting the community to see things in a new light. Some of you could probably come up with a list pretty easily. Some of you would say 100’s impossible, that there’s more like 250 people in Southeastern North Carolina worth noting. For us, it fell somewhere in the middle when it came time to decide on our first-ever WilmingtonBiz 100. While some names were a given, such as our cover models Chip Mahan and Pierre Naudé, who have built their fintech operations from the ground up in Wilmington and moved the local business landscape in a new direction (read more about that on page 18). Or they are managing fast-growing economic drivers, such as Julie Wilsey at the airport or Paul Cozza at the ports. Or they’re raising a potentially once-in-ageneration decision, such as John Gizdic and Chris Coudriet and the future of the hospital. Others are clearly connecting people to the right resources, such as Cameron School of Business dean Rob Burrus, or working on innovations that could disrupt their industries, such as Lapetus’ Karl Ricanek. But, of course, there is also a lot of subjectivity in the process. How do you measure one person’s impact? Is it because of the job they hold over a large organization? Is it because they’re doing work above and beyond what their LinkedIn position says they should be doing? The Business Journal’s editorial team thought long and hard – and deliberated and debated (and at times negotiated) – over all of those questions. We took suggestions from readers through a nominations campaign in print, on our emails and through our social media channels. And we added in our own names for consideration, stemming from many years of covering the business community locally. Another thing we discussed was eligibility. Other w i l m i n g t o n b i z m a g a z i n e . c o m

business journals that publish power or influencers lists also don’t include politicians and economic developers, and some do. Our thinking is that decisions of major consequence (good or bad) are part of elected officials’ expected roles. Also, how do you separate out which officeholder is more influential than the next in a 3-2 vote, for example, even if that vote is a major one? The same with the primary economic development agencies, which are tasked as part of their roles and contracts with the local governments to be impacting the local economy by attracting new jobs. The result of these monthslong talks is our inaugural WilmingtonBiz 100. Disagree? Think a key name was left off? I would hope that you do. If we only have 100 people total impacting the region’s economy, that doesn’t bode well. Feel free to send feedback to my email below. This will be an annual project for us. And while this first list takes a more long-term view of what those included have done, future versions will place an emphasis on impacts made during the year. In the meantime, read more in this year’s section that starts on page 17.

VICKY JANOWSKI, EDITOR vjanowski@wilmingtonbiz.com

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Wilmington B iz

CONTRIBUTORS

M A G A Z I N E

WINTER 2019 – $4.95

Publisher

C H R I S BREHMER CHRIS BREHMER is a Wilmington-based photographer whose work has appeared in WILMA and the Greater Wilmington Business Journal. He specializes in portraits, corporate photography, editorial and weddings. Brehmer photographed Live Oak’s Chip Mahan and nCino’s Pierre Naudé for this issue’s cover and fintech story “Live Oak’s Multiverse” (PAGE 18). chrisbrehmerphotography.com

Rob Kaiser

rkaiser@wilmingtonbiz.com

President

Robert Preville

rpreville@wilmingtonbiz.com

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

jbudd@wilmingtonbiz.com

Editor

Vicky Janowski

vjanowski@wilmingtonbiz.com

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

cnunn@wilmingtonbiz.com

Reporters

J E N N Y CALLISON JENNY CALLISON is a former Business Journal reporter who continues as a freelancer with the Business Journal, covering the banking and finance industries. Before moving to Wilmington in 2011, she was a university communications director and a freelance reporter covering a variety of beats. This issue, she details the growing footprint of Wilmington’s fintech activities in the issue’s cover story and how several of the WilmingtonBiz 100 names have played major roles in that (PAGE 18).

Johanna Cano

jcano@wilmingtonbiz.com

Christina Haley O'Neal

chaley@wilmingtonbiz.com

VP of Sales/Business Development Melissa Pressley

mpressley@wilmingtonbiz.com

Senior Account Executive Craig Snow

csnow@wilmingtonbiz.com

Account Executives Ali Buckley

abuckley@wilmingtonbiz.com

Polly Holly pholly@wilmingtonbiz.com

Brittney Keen

bkeen@wilmingtonbiz.com

L A U R A M O O R E LAURA MOORE is an English professor at Cape Fear Community College in one of the top three-rated English departments in the state. In addition to education, she has a background in public relations and journalism. Moore freelances for the Business Journal, covering the area’s hospitality industry. She takes a look at several attractions’ upcoming capital projects for “Investing in Vistors” (PAGE 70).

Business Manager Nancy Proper

nproper@wilmingtonbiz.com

Events Director Maggi Apel

mapel@wilmingtonbiz.com

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

events@wilmingtonbiz.com

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

production@wilmingtonbiz.com

MICHAEL C L I N E SPENCER MICHAEL CLINE SPENCER, owner of Michael Cline Photography, is a Wilmington-based freelance photojournalist with over 15 years’ experience working at several prominent North Carolina newspapers. He specializes in corporate, editorial, pet and wedding photography. He photographed Navassa Mayor Eulis Willis for “Preparing for a Wave” (PAGE 82). michaelclinephoto.com

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Content Marketing Editor David Dean

ddean@wilmingtonbiz.com

Contributing Designer Suzi Drake

art@wilmingtonbiz.com

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

Chris Brehmer, Logan Burke, Erin Costa, T.J. Drechsel, Kevin Kleitches, Michael Cline Spencer

Subscribe

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


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B i z B ite s BEHIND THE NUMBERS

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SIGNING UP

Grey Vick used to work in real estate. But after the housing market soured during the recession, he found his way to billboards, learning about the industry from a contact. Grey Outdoor now owns and operates over 540 billboard faces in the Carolinas and owns over 228 billboard structures. And Vick, shown above at one of his digital billboards in Leland, continues to try and gobble up more sky-high signage. One recent deal with Myrtle Beach Outdoor Advertising added more than a dozen billboard faces around Florence, South Carolina, into Grey’s collection. photo by T.J. DRECHSEL

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14,792 WILMINGTON

DURING ITS THIRD MEETING AS A GROUP, members of the Partnership Advisory Group dived into the request0-for-proposal weeds last month. The group, made up of 21 people selected from hospital trustees, NHRMC medical staff and the community, is responsible for developing an RFP to see who is interested in buying or managing New Hanover County Regional Medical Center. Because New Hanover Regional is county-owned, it falls under state laws dictating how it can solicit offers from outside players. The rules include sending the RFP, once it’s ready, to at least five health systems (though more will see it and can respond). Having an advisory group as part of the process isn’t something that’s required in those statutes. Hospital and county officials have come under criticism about the speed and transparency of the process to explore proposals since the idea was publicly announced. The advisory group has been one way they have attempted to involve more in the community in the decision-making process. “I said a month or so ago that I think this could well be the most important decision made in this county in my lifetime,” the group’s vice cochairman Bill Cameron, co-founder and president of Cameron Management, said about the hospital’s future. “It’s certainly going to rank up there.” The Partnership Advisory Group, or PAG, is expected to look at the RFP and evaluate proposals that come back. PAG co-chair Spence Broadhurst, a banking executive and former mayor of Wilmington, said he thinks the process is on track to have an RFP out by the end of the year but that there’s no magic deadline with that and it could take until early next year. While the group waits for proposals to come back for review – officials estimate that will happen in March – members are expected to also research impacts of keeping the hospital independent and a county-owned facility and ways to give NHRMC more flexibility if that were to happen. They are looking at April to come up with their recommendation on how to move forward. “If this recommendation involves some sort of partnership with another organization,” county officials have said, “additional due diligence will be done over the next four to six months before an agreement goes to the NHRMC Board of Trustees and County Commissioners for approval.”

ROSE HILL

BY VICKY JANOWSKI

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PARTNERSHIP ADVISORY GROUP TASKED TO WORK THROUGH HOSPITAL RFP

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SOUTHEASTERN NC

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PROJECTED POPULATION GROWTH DOWNTOWN WHEN CURRENT CONSTRUCTION PROJECTS ARE FINISHED

1.2M

GALLONS OF WINE DUPLIN WINERY PRODUCED LAST YEAR

Sources: Wilmington Regional Film Commission; Federal Reserve Economic Data; Wilmington Downtown Inc.; Esri, a location intelligence company; Duplin Winery


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SOUND OFF GOOD TO GREAT

HERE ARE OVER 350 METRO AREAS IN THE U.S. AND ANOTHER 500+ SMALLER URBAN AREAS all

trying to figure out how to outcompete each other for employment opportunities, residents and quality of life. At the turn of the century, Jim Collins published his iconic book “Good to Great” about companies that made the leap, many of the ideas apply to communities too. There’s no doubt Wilmington is a “good” place to live, and together we can make it “great” for all; it’s already happening. Collins’ ideas are self-evident once articulated but are worthy of repeating often, and all rely on strong individuals, leaders and teamwork within our community. Good is the enemy of great. We shouldn’t settle for a good city; we should keep striving for a great one. For example, David Swain (WilmingtonBiz 100 Power Player) has built several quality developments in the region but continues to envision great projects that fit into the fabric of our community and are more than buildings. Chip Mahan (100-Power Player) and Live Oak Bank aren’t just business as usual; they understand that technology is a tool for driving value. The mindset of the successful leaders in the community isn’t one of “do it differently.” Their mindset is of using every resource available to do it better. While good is the enemy of great, only through the development of great

A D A M J O N E S leadership and talent will we be able to achieve greatness. Just like companies, we need leaders who are relentlessly driven in pursuit of the goal. What the community’s goal is remains an open question, but folks are stepping up to make things happen. Whether it’s the chamber’s Scorecard events (Natalie English is a WilmingtonBiz 100 Influencer), Rhonda Bellamy of the arts council (100-Connector) working to connect neighborhoods and provide public access to art through the Wilmington Rail Trail or Dan Brawley (100-Innovator) and Cucalorous expanding beyond film, the community is engaging. The emergence of talented and engaged people from different walks of life will lead us to our direction, in the words of Collins, “first the Who, then the What.” Our “what?” will likely turn out to be simpler and clearer than we currently imagine. Collins calls simplicity the hedgehog principle since hedgehogs don’t run, they don’t hide, they just ball up and put their spikes out; simple, effective and unique to the hedgehog. What can we do at a world-class level that we are passionate about, and that is unique to us? Borrowing some theory from Austrian economics, the answer probably won’t come from an expensive consultant but will evolve spontaneously, through each of us making small contributions that together add up to show us and push us in the

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direction of our “what?” As part of our journey, we will have to face facts that are uncomfortable, such as inequality of opportunity, tradeoffs between development and the environment, and difference of opinion about what constitutes attractive development or where it should go. But through it all, if we maintain a culture of cooperation and discussion and continue to develop talent that understands our community, we’ll make it to great. Keep the faith. Don’t believe all this is possible? Afraid we won’t make it? We already have. The evolution of downtown is a great example (Ed Wolverton, 100-Influencer). In the last decade, streetscapes have improved, new residential development has revitalized dilapidated areas and the Wilson Center now makes an impressive statement when entering the Port City. These improvements have been driven by individuals that doggedly pursue greatness for their organizations and whose efforts add up across the community; I never tire of hearing Shane Fernando (100-Influencer) tell the Wilson Center’s story. Southeastern North Carolina has all the necessary components: a great locale, great community members and great leadership, and we will need all our talent civically engaged to reach our potential. At some point, as we continue our journey from “Good to Great,” maybe we should peek at another book of appropriate title, “Built to Last.” 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 1 9

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SOUND OFF NOT GLAMOUROUS, BUT NECESSARY

BizBites

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HE YEAR 2020 SHOULD BE AN EXCITING TIME FOR ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT IN THE WILMINGTON REGION. A NUMBER OF UTILITY EXTENSIONS WILL HELP ENTICE NEW INDUSTRIES TO THE AREA.

J I M BRADSHAW

When industrial prospects are looking to locate a new facility, site location, nearby transportation modes and infrastructure availability and capacity are critical to making the final decision. Brunswick, Pender and New Hanover counties have their industrial corridors in the right locations. They are all adjacent to four-lane U.S. highways, near Interstate 140 and within a short distance of the port and airport. Each has industrial site opportunities that range from 10 acres to over 1,000 acres. What is missing in some of those areas is sewer and water. Pender County is ahead of the game in its commerce park, which has sewer, water and roads already into the site. They have located several industries in the park in recent years. Unfortunately, there is limited sewer capacity, and they lack any large available parcels at this time.

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That may change as New Hanover County extends utilities west adjacent to U.S. 421 in its industrial corridor. This will provide sewer to existing industries in New Hanover County – meaning they could expand – as well as to industrialzoned parcels that have not been available to develop because of the lack of utilities. In early 2018, the Cape Fear Public Utility Authority awarded a $12.8 million construction contract to T.A. Loving Co. for the water and sewer project, extending access up the 421 corridor to the Pender County line. The construction was finished last month, according to the Business Journal, which reported that New Hanover County chipped in about $1.6 million of the total cost to extend about 36,000 feet of sewer and nearly 35,000 feet of water lines. In the project area, there are nearly 1,000 acres of developable land available for future industries, CFPUA has said. Discussions have occurred to extend the utilities into Pender County, opening up large parcels

M A G A Z I N E

of land for industrial development there as well. Furthermore, if extended to the Pender County Commerce Park, it would expand the sewer capacity to further develop that industrial park. Brunswick County has two industrial parks located on its border with Columbus County and adjacent to the four-lane U.S. 74/76. The 1,000-acre International Logistics Park is served with water from Columbus County but has no sewer or roads. Across the street, the 1,000-acre Mid-Atlantic Industrial Rail Park has a “dry” sewer line but no water or roads. Columbus County economic development officials applied for and gained approval for a grant from the N.C. Department of Commerce to complete the sewer utility needs of the two industrial parks that border

2020

SPARK

S PA R K IDEAS

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


BizBites

Brunswick and Columbus counties in 2020. Columbus County is a Tier 1 county, which is considered a distressed county, and has better opportunities to receive infrastructure grants. The county jointly owns the International Logistics Park with Brunswick County through a nonprofit organization. Brunswick County anticipates extending water to the Mid-Atlantic Industrial Rail Park in 2020. Thus, by the end of next year, both industrial parks will have sewer and water in place onsite. Both parks will still need to construct entrance roads to better compete with other communities for new industries. With the Port of Wilmington’s expansion, the recent completion of I-140 and the addition of thousands of acres of industrial-zoned land with infrastructure in place next year, there will be greater opportunities to market the region for industrial prospects in 2020 and beyond. North Carolina’s Southeast micro-region marketing initiative ensures that the largest economic development organizations in the Wilmington region (Wilmington Business Development, Brunswick Business and Industry Development and the N.C. State Ports Authority) will continue to work together to market these industrial parks and sites to site consultants, industrial prospects and clients as well as at targeted trade shows throughout the country. The year 2020 should be the beginning of a new era of exciting economic development successes in the Wilmington region. Jim Bradshaw served as director of the Brunswick County Economic Development Commission from 2007 until his retirement in 2015.

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 ARTICLES WITH MOST READER ENGAGEMENT IN NOVEMBER NHRMC WANTS TO BUILD heart, vascular tower on main campus AIRPORT CONSULTING FIRM focusing on new routes for ILM

IN SODA POP DISTRICT, A Safe Place to open outreach campus GLOW RECEIVES $500K grant for makerspace

CAPE FEAR SOLAR SYSTEMS aims to start downtown HQ soon

T W I T T E R P O L L : @ W I L M I N GT O N B I Z HOW DO YOU PLAN TO DO MOST OF YOUR HOLIDAY SHOPPING THIS YEAR?

AT LOCALLY OWNED STORES (IN-STORE)

24% 55%

ONLINE

21%

AT NATIONAL CHAINS (IN-STORE)

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

READER REACTIONS

ON THE NEW HANOVER COUNTY BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS VOTING TO TERMINATE THE COUNTY’S AGREEMENT WITH WAVE TRANSIT “NEW HANOVER COUNTY COMMISSIONERS WHO VOTED TO REMOVE FUNDING are making a grave mistake in my opinion. Not only are they taking away affordable transportation from those who so desperately need it (and who can’t afford to live within city limits), but they are also putting more cars on our already crowded roads.” – REBECCA BLUE

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PPD FILES NOTICE FOR PROPOSED IPO Wilmington-based PPD has announced its interest in once again becoming a public company. Pharmaceutical Product Development LLC in mid-November announced that PPD Inc., its parent company, has submitted a draft registration statement to the Securities and Exchange Commission about the proposed initial public offering of PPD’s common stock. “The number of shares to be offered and the price range for the proposed offering have not yet been determined,” a statement from the company read. “PPD, Inc. expects to use the proceeds of the offering for general corporate purposes, which may include the repayment of indebtedness.” The announcement stated that the IPO “is expected to commence after the SEC completes its review process, subject to market and other conditions.” PPD, a contract research organization,

VERTEX RAILCAR IN BANKRUPTCY FILING

was founded in Wilmington by Fred Eshelman in the mid1980s. The company went public in 1996 and was later sold to affiliates of investment firms The Carlyle Group and Hellman & Friedman in 2011 for $3.9 billion, returning then to operate as a private company. In 2017, PPD announced a deal to recapitalize and add two

new investors. That investment with a subsidiary of the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority and an affiliate of GIC, Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund, valued PPD at the time at more than $9 billion. The initial public offering is expected to commence after the SEC completes its review process, subject to market and other conditions.

TO STAY I N T H E LO O P O N T H E L AT E ST AR E A B U S I NE S S H AP P EN IN GS , CHECK OUT OUR DA I LY A F T ER NOON NE W S L E T T E R . S I G N U P AT WILM IN GTON BIZ.COM .

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Vertex Railcar Corp. faces an involuntary Chapter 7 bankruptcy petition claiming the company owes more than $45 million, mainly to one of its owners, according to court documents. The rail car manufacturer started hiring in Wilmington for its 202 Raleigh St. plant about five years ago, with CEO Don Croteau claiming the company would eventually hire more than 1,300 people. The jobs never materialized to that extent, legal issues plagued the company, and last year, officials working with Vertex Railcar announced that it would be closing. CRRC Yangtze Co. Lt., which owns part of Vertex Railcar Corp., claims nearly all of the $45.4 million in the petition, filed in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Delaware. In the filing, an order for relief, meaning the petition could move forward, was granted Oct. 15, according to court documents. The case’s status was listed at press time as, “Awaiting involuntary answer.”

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minutes

TIME IT TOOK FOR TICKETS FOR THE UNCW VS. UNC MEN’S BASKETBALL GAME AT TRASK TO SELL OUT

Source: UNCW Athletics


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BY VICKY JANOWSKI

.C. STATE TREASURER DALE FOLWELL HAS NOT BEEN SHY IN HIS CRITICISMS THIS YEAR, from calling out

transportation officials dealing with a budget crunch to the state’s major hospitals that held fast against his proposed changes on reimbursements for employees on the state health plan. Folwell, the first Republican to hold the state’s treasurer post since Reconstruction, served four terms in the state House and headed up the N.C. Division of Employment Security. In those roles, he also called for sweeping, and often controversial, reforms to shore up struggling budgets. YOU RECENTLY CALLED FOR A SHAKEUP AT THE N.C. DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION, CALLING ON GOV. ROY COOPER TO REPLACE TRANSPORTATION SECRETARY JIM TROGDON AND MOVING FINANCIAL OVERSIGHT OF THE DEPARTMENT TO THE N.C. OFFICE OF STATE BUDGET AND MANAGEMENT. WHAT PROMPTED YOU TO MAKE TAKE THAT STRONG OF A STANCE?

“For over 15 months, I have made my stance on the overspending of the DOT very clear. During that time, I told the governor, Council of State and Secretary Trogdon that they were spending money too quickly; and when they eventually did slow down, they didn’t slow down enough. This overspending has now

WHAT CAN THE 720,000 STATE EMPLOYEES, TEACHERS, DEPENDENTS AND RETIREES IN THE STATE HEALTH PLAN EXPECT TO SEE NEXT YEAR?

DA L E F O LW E L L

N.C. STATE TREASURER resulted in at least one bond rating agency noting the cash flow issue and a bailout request of the N.C. General Assembly totaling hundreds of millions of dollars. The NCDOT needs to focus on building and repairing roads, but the financial spigot needs to be within N.C. Office of State Budget and Management, which reports to the governor.” YOU’VE ALSO THIS YEAR BEEN OUTSPOKEN ABOUT THE NEED FOR MORE TRANSPARENCY IN HEALTH CARE COSTS FOR THE STATE HEALTH PLAN. YOU PROPOSED A “CLEAR PRICING PROJECT” FOR 2020 THAT LOOKED TO SET RATES FOR ENROLLEES’ CARE BASED ON MEDICARE RATES PLUS A MARKUP INSTEAD OF THE NEGOTIATED RATES BETWEEN BLUE CROSS BLUE SHIELD OF NORTH CAROLINA AND PROVIDERS. SINCE IT DID NOT HAVE THE SUPPORT OF MAJOR HOSPITALS IN THE STATE, WHAT HAPPENED WITH THE PROPOSAL?

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“We have been outspoken on behalf of those who have been hurt the worse. Those being state employees, retirees and taxpayers like them who don’t consume health care; it consumes them. After offering the major hospitals nearly a 100% profit, even those hospitals who stood to make more money did not sign up. They chose to boycott those who teach, protect and serve. Nearly 25,000 providers did say ‘yes’ and agreed to get rid of secret contracts and push the power to consume to the customer. We will be partnering with these health care providers going forward.” DO YOU PLAN TO CONTINUE TO PUSH FOR CHANGES TO THE STATE HEALTH PLAN?

“Absolutely. The State Health Plan costs are going up at a faster pace than the governor’s budget provides. Secondly, the plan has an unfunded liability of nearly $32 billion, which ranks its insolvency right behind the state of Illinois. Lastly and most importantly, the average entry-level state employee that teaches, protects and serves has to work one week out of every month just to pay the family premium.” ANOTHER LOCAL ISSUE YOU’VE WEIGHED IN ON IS THE POTENTIAL SALE OR

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C-SUITE C O N V O MANAGEMENT STRUCTURE CHANGE OF NEW HANOVER REGIONAL MEDICAL CENTER. WHAT ARE YOUR CONCERNS THERE?

“My concern is that they are trying to solve a problem that doesn’t exist. New Hanover Regional Medical Center is one of the few examples in the U.S. of a large medical center providing accessibility, quality, lower cost and profitability. That is just the kind of medical facility that should be serving the public. The vast majority of U.S. studies show these types of mergers reverse all of those positive benefits resulting in increased cost and worse patient outcomes to the detriment of the eight counties served by NHRMC.” ARE YOU CONCERNED THE CONTINUED BUDGET IMPASSE MIGHT AFFECT THE STATE’S AAA BOND RATING? WHY OR WHY NOT?

“The governor’s veto of the state budget is mainly offset by the fact that North Carolina has a law that allows state government to function past the end of the fiscal year. This is different than what people experience when the federal government has to shut down. North Carolina earns the benefit of the doubt because of our conservative budgeting that produces surpluses and rainy day fund reserves. Nearly 98% of the vetoed budget has been passed into law through other pieces of legislation. As state treasurer and keeper of the public purse, I’m making sure the nearly $50 billion in public service workers’ unfunded health care and pension liabilities remains front and center as the real threat to North Carolina’s financial future.”


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DETERMINING THE 100 The WilmingtonBiz 100 is a new 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 inaugural 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. 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.

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COVER STORY: FINTECH POWER PLAYERS INFLUENCERS INNOVATORS CONNECTORS RISING STARS

– Compiled by Johanna Cano, Vicky Janowski, Cece Nunn and Christina Haley O'Neal

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LIVE OAK’S MULTIVERSE T FINTECH IN WILMINGTON CONTINUES TO GROW AS COMPANIES BRANCH OUT

his fall, banking software company nCino notched two significant accomplishments: The Wilmingtonbased company opened an office in Tokyo, and it announced nCino IQ, which enhances nCino’s Bank Operating System with artificial intelligence and machine learning. The latest developments in the company that spun out of Live Oak Bank in 2012 mark the two Wilmington companies’ continued toehold into the financial technology world, growing their presence both in the Port City and in the industry at large. nCino’s latest steps take the company further along a path that was first envisioned in Wilmington by several bankers led by James “Chip” Mahan, chairman and CEO of Live Oak Bancshares, parent company of Live Oak Bank. Along with nCino CEO Pierre Naudé, Mahan and several other business leaders who can trace their roots somehow to Live Oak (Huntley Garriott, president of Live Oak Bank; Neil Underwood, partner at Canapi; and Chris Cox, president of Apiture) are included in the inaugural WilmingtonBiz 100 group this year for what they have built and are continuing to build upon in the fintech space. The Japanese presence represents nCino’s first foray outside the Englishspeaking world. Its other international offices are in London, Sydney and Toronto. With a Tokyo office, nCino

BY JENNY CALLISON PHOTO BY CHRIS BREHMER

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commits to providing financial technology to customers in very different cultures. And nCino’s incorporation of artificial intelligence and machine learning into its system through nCino IQ (or nIQ, for short) adds further sophistication to its financial technology offerings. “nIQ uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to increase efficiency through automation and provides insights through analytics to improve the overall customer experience,” Naudé said. “With this product expansion, we’re evolving the concept of an agile enterprise further to that of the ‘Intelligent Enterprise,’ where AI is injected into every stage of production and stands at the center of every business line we support. Our view is that these tools can improve the overall customer experience and help financial institutions become more predictive, personalized and proactive.” nCino’s announcement of nIQ stated that nearly two-thirds of financial institutions cite increasing operational efficiency as their top priority over the next one to two years. “nIQ provides effective tools


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to automate and connect banking processes, eliminate costly and laborious data entry and inform data-driven decisions to improve the customer journey,” the release stated. Mahan was an early advocate of electronic banking. In 1995 he founded Security First Network Bank, the first purely internet bank in the U.S. Live Oak’s development, and the creation of nCino as a separate entity, partly reflect Mahan’s journey with Security First and its wholly owned software company, Security First Technologies. When the Atlanta-based internet bank was acquired by RBC in 2002, Security First Technologies was

spun off as S1 Corp., with Mahan as chairman and CEO. Mahan and a small group of colleagues understood the potential power of an all-digital bank that would use technology to streamline small business lending, so in 2006 they decided to launch such an entity. Choosing the quality of life available in Wilmington over the more hectic lifestyle of Atlanta, they opened Live Oak Bank here in 2008. Driving the success of Live Oak Bank was a business model that focused on niche industry lending and the development of a proprietary banking software product to allow

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Live Oak to lend efficiently across the country and to monitor – and sometimes advise – its borrowers. Perhaps before people even used the term fintech, the Live Oak Bank team had a vision for how streamlined technology systems could power banking processes. Their beliefs have been borne out. “We are at a point in time where banks, who are highly regulated, must become more nimble and address customer needs in a much better fashion,” Mahan said. “We believe fintechs create nimbleness, but they also must understand the discipline of regulation.” W I N TE R 2 0 1 9

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LIVE OAK BANCSHARES FAMILY TREE Parent company of Live Oak Bank, a digitally focused bank that opened in 2008

Formed around a cloud-based Bank Operating System first developed to help Live Oak Bank streamline loans; spun off from Live Oak in 2012

Envisioned as a $500 million fintech fund; Canapi Ventures is advised by Canapi Advisors, a subsidiary of Live Oak

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Focused on developing digital banking tools and platforms; launched in fall 2017 and is a joint venture between Live Oak and First Data (which later merged with Fiserv)

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Today, Live Oak Bank is the city’s only publicly traded company, (Nasdaq: LOB), with a market capitalization of about $736 million in late November. In 2012, bank leaders spun off Live Oak’s software product into a new, separate entity, which they named nCino (shorthand for encino, Spanish for the live oak tree). They brought Naudé in from S1 Corp. to head up the new company. The infant financial technology company had a comprehensive vision from the outset, according to Naudé. “When we started nCino, there were just five of us in a borrowed office at Live Oak Bank, but we put up a sign on the wall that said ‘The Worldwide Leader in Cloud Banking’ to have a constant visible reminder of our

vision,” he said. “For us, it was not a question of ‘if ’ but rather ‘when.’ “Our vision and mission have remained the same: to be the worldwide leader in cloud banking and transform financial institutions through innovation, reputation and speed. Our commitment to those remains steadfast.” SunTrust Bank’s Wholesale Banking segment, which adopted nCino’s Bank Operating System in 2017, has benefited from the system, according to Sandra Spiers, city president and commercial relationship manager for SunTrust Bank in Wilmington. “nCino enables the entire relationship management team to share information seamlessly in order to facilitate faster decision making and ultimately deliver the capital they need faster to


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enable them to focus on running the business,” she said. “nCino also gives SunTrust the ability to quickly adapt the technology to changes in market conditions, regulatory changes and changes to internal business process.” Just a few years ago, one of nCino’s challenges was to convince potential client banks that moving their data to the cloud was safe and beneficial. Now, with widespread acceptance of cloud-based data storage and the rapid advancement of financial technology, the challenge is to keep abreast of – or preferably ahead of – financial institutions’ evolving needs. It’s a rare bank today that does not offer online and mobile services to its customers, said Chris Cox, CEO of Wilmington-based Apiture. Now, he said, the quest for banks is to “cater to the unique needs of their unique customer base.” Apiture, a fintech company that formed two years ago as a joint venture between Live Oak and First Data Corp., develops products aimed at helping

banks tailor their digital products and services. Since then First Data merged with Fiserv. Live Oak officials say they are looking for a new partner to replace them since Fiserv isn’t in the business of holding minority stakes in businesses, Mahan said during LOB’s third quarter earnings call this year. Financial institutions in what Cox terms today’s “mature (tech) market,” are having to constantly adjust their digital strategies. One reason is because banking customers’ expectations for how they conduct business transactions online or through mobile devices keep evolving. “Business leaders and owners are increasingly demanding more consumer-like experiences including enhanced digital capabilities and realtime information,” Spiers said. Another reason that the demand for new fintech will continue, according to Cox, is due to the increasing competition to traditional banks and credit unions from data companies and that fintechs themselves that are

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moving into the realm of banking services. “(These tech companies) are taking little bits of the chain and can often provide services better than the financial institutions can themselves, because (the techs) are focused on specific products or services,” he said. Live Oak Bancshares’ involvement with founding Apiture resulted from the banking company’s continuing certainty that technology is an essential underpinning for the financial services industry. “Fintech investments are vital, and without them, banks will ultimately fail,” Mahan said. “The challenge is getting fintechs the capital they need rapidly enough to move at the speed banks need them to innovate.” A bank’s investment in financial technology companies can be tricky, however, Mahan added. “It is challenging because a bank and a fintech are two very different business models. One is valued on a multiple of earnings, and one is valued

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W I L M I N GTO N B I Z 1 0 0 in employee counts, physical footprint – despite having no branches like a traditional retail bank – and activity in other technology-focused financial projects. As head of Live Oak, Mahan heads the only publicly traded company headquartered in Wilmington and the largest SBA 7(a) lender in the nation. His influence on growing a fintech cluster from the ground up in Wilmington, however, hasn’t stopped there. He’s also co-founder of nCino, a cloud-based banking software built on the Salesforce platform. Mahan serves on the board of directors for Wilmington-based Apiture, a joint venture between Live Oak and First Data that focuses on creating next-gen technology for financial institutions. He is also a director of Payrailz, a digital payments company. First bank position: Wachovia Bank & Trust Co. in WinstonSalem, 1973 Number of employees: 550+

JAMES “CHIP” MAHAN III CHAIRMAN AND CEO, LIVE OAK BANCSHARES

rior to founding Live Oak,

was the chairman and PChip CEO of S1 Corp. and founder of Security First Network Bank, the world’s first internet bank. Under his leadership, S1 grew to become a $234 million software and services provider in only six years, averaging more than 200% growth year over year. At its peak, S1 had a market capitalization of $7.8 billion.

WHY HE’S A POWER PLAYER: In

2008, Live Oak Bank, a subsidiary of Live Oak Bancshares, opened in Wilmington, where it has since remained while growing

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on a multiple of revenues. So from a governance and investor perspective, it can be challenging,” he said. Apiture is not Live Oak’s only fintech involvement. In February 2018, the company announced its Live Oak Ventures unit had rebranded as Canapi Inc. and would invest in companies that supply banks and credit unions with innovative technology. It has enrolled several other banks as partners in the investing entity. “Canapi has the mission to partner with and invest in companies that provide new platforms for the banking industry,” Live Oak’s release stated at the time. Asked about the current status of Canapi’s activities, Mahan said recently that it’s still early days for the startup. “Canapi will aim to invest in next-generation fintechs to provide solutions and efficiencies to the banking industry,” he said. “It’s a changing world, and we believe our investments will ultimately create the next generation financial institution other banks will model.” How has Live Oak Bank’s decision to locate its fledgling disrupter bank in Wilmington played out? Chip Mahan and Pierre Naudé are both included on this year’s WilmingtonBiz 100 in the Power Players category. Read more about the other 98 starting on page 24.


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PIERRE NAUDÉ CEO, NCINO

ierre Naudé was named CEO

nCino’s spinoff from PtoLiveguide Oak Bank in 2012 as a separate tech entity. Naudé crossed paths with Live Oak founder Chip Mahan from Atlanta-based S1 Corp., where Mahan was previously chairman and CEO. Naudé had been in global senior management at Unisys Corp. before that. He came to nCino with years of experience in retail banking software.

WHY HE’S A POWER PLAYER:

Watching nCino grow from five people in a corner office at Live Oak Bank into its own entity as a worldwide leader in cloud banking with offices

in five countries and over 800 employees has been the ultimate career highlight for Naudé. In Wilmington, he said nCino has found the infrastructure, talent and resources to propel it from a small startup to an industry leader. During nCino’s first seven years, the firm focused on transforming financial services by building a single, cloudbased Bank Operating System that could be leveraged by financial institutions. nCino is also investing time, funds and research and development into making the platform more intuitive through the use of artificial intelligence and machine learning. More than 250 financial institutions in multiple countries are now using nCino. Other 2019 lists: American Banker named nCino the “Best Fintech to Work For” in the country; Forbes ranked it No. 20 on its “Cloud 100” list of private cloud companies in the world

Live Oak now employs more than 500 people and recently completed its third office building on its Tiburon Drive campus. The bank remains the top SBA 7(a) lender in the country in terms of loan value but has moved also into other government-backed loan programs and offers financing to businesses in more than 30 industries. In just two years, Apiture’s Wilmington staff has grown to 135. It has 45 additional employees in its Austin, Texas, office. In October, it moved from downtown Wilmington to space at the Live Oak campus. nCino now employs over 800 people globally and occupies more than 130,000 square feet of office space in a Mayfaire office park. The fintech has raised roughly $230 million since its founding and is valued at more than $1 billion. It’s finding recruitment of new talent increasingly easy, according to its CEO. “Being a technology company outside the tech hubs like Silicon Valley, Seattle and Austin continues to be advantageous for several reasons. Wilmington is an ideal place to recruit talent,” Naudé said. “This year alone, we’ve had 10,000 people apply for jobs at nCino, and we’ve hired just over 200. I would say that we are still doing very well being based in Wilmington and are proud to call this city the home of our worldwide headquarters.”

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POWER P L AY E R S THE BUSINESSPEOPLE AND OFFICIALS HAVING THE GREATEST IMPACT ON THE REGION’S BUSINESS AND ECONOMIC LANDSCAPE

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CAMERON FAMILY he history of the Cameron family in the area harkens back to before the Civil War and extends into the Port City today.

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WHY THEY’RE POWER PLAYERS:

In the 1950s, Bruce Cameron Jr. and Dan Cameron began acquiring property that would become Figure Eight Island, developed by the Camerons, their cousin Raiford Graham Trask and investor Richard Wetherill. In addition to numerous civic and philanthropic contributions over the years, Cameron family members continue to be among the largest landholders in New Hanover County and remain a driver on significant projects. Today, Cameron developments are transforming the city’s midtown, among other sites throughout the area, including The Pointe at Barclay. More buildings are underway at the development, which is adjacent to other Cameron projects, The Element apartments and The Offices at Barclay. Additional projects: Another part of the Cameron family is planning a development project on Shipyard Boulevard. Graham Cameron Land LLC has proposed two, three-story buildings that would include medical and professional office space and a restaurant.

PAUL COZZA EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, N.C. PORTS

ith longtime experience in the marine logistics industry, Paul Cozza was appointed the N.C. State Ports Authority’s executive director in

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2014. Cozza leads more than 200 employees and is responsible for authority activities, including those at the Wilmington and Morehead City ports, and Charlotte Inland Port. He previously held executive roles with major logistics companies and served in the U.S. Army.

WHY HE'S A POWER PLAYER:

Since Cozza joined N.C. Ports, the Port of Wilmington has experienced significant growth. Cozza has overseen a more than $221 million capital improvement plan aimed at modernizing the port facilities. At the Port of Wilmington, he also plans to oversee the deepening and widening of the Wilmington Harbor to make it more competitive. Cozza facilitated the reintroduction of the port’s intermodal rail service in 2017, after 30 years. The port also expanded cargo service lines and saw a record in container traffic volume in the 2017-18 fiscal year when it moved more than 322,000 TEUs. Army job: Helicopter pilot

to manage various aspects of students’ clinical rotation compliance requirements, particularly those needed for nursing and allied health programs. Through its online platforms, it also helps students manage their clinical rotation experiences digitally in areas such as scheduling and evaluations. The company serves clients in all 50 states, plus the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, reviews 4.5 million records annually and represents 80% of all nursing students nationwide, according to the company’s website. Besides growing his threeperson startup to hundreds of employees, Martin has led efforts to provide an accelerator program for startups. As the founder and CEO of tekMountain, an incubator, Martin has provided coworking space and resources to Wilmington startups, many of which have grown and “graduated” out of the space. CastleBranch and tekMountain occupy two buildings on Sir Tyler Drive. Birthplace: Montreal Previous jobs: Professional stage actor and voice coach

MICHELE HOLBROOK GLOBAL SUPPLY CHAIN PROJECT MANAGER, CORNING INC.

s Corning’s global supply

project manager, Achain Michele Holbrook

is leading, planning and tracking strategic worldwide supply chain projects for the company’s Optical Fiber and Cable division and works to increase standardization and improve efficiency of business processes.

WHY SHE’S A POWER PLAYER:

BRETT MARTIN FOUNDER AND CEO, CASTLEBRANCH

rett Martin graduated from

University of Western Bthe Ontario with a bachelor’s

in economics and then received a master’s degree in theater from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. In 1997, Martin founded CastleBranch, a background screening and compliance management company, which relocated to Wilmington in 2002. 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 A POWER PLAYER:

By deciding to establish CastleBranch’s headquarters in Wilmington, Martin has created a workforce of over 400 people in the area. CastleBranch started out as a background check company but has expanded

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TIM MILAM PRESIDENT, COLDWELL BANKER SEA COAST ADVANTAGE

im Milam bought Coldwell

Sea Coast in 1997, TBanker growing the firm into a

residential real estate giant that in 2018 had 7,100 sales and $1.7 billion in sales volume in New Hanover, Brunswick, Pender, Onslow and Carteret counties. Milam was inducted into the Wilmington-Cape Fear Home Builders Association’s Hall of Fame this year.

WHY HE’S A POWER PLAYER:

For two decades, his company has been the No. 1 market leader in Southeastern North Carolina and a member of the Coldwell Banker International

Holbrook previously oversaw operations at Corning’s Wilmington optical fiber plant, one of the largest in the world. In 2017, the Wilmington facility celebrated a significant corporate milestone, the delivery of Corning’s 1 billionth kilometer of optical fiber. She also provided strong organizational leadership for plant operations before, during and after Hurricane Florence hit in September 2018. Holbrook moved into her new role, and Russ Lopatka started as plant manager, this summer. Even as she has taken on a new broader role with Corning, Holbrook remains in Wilmington and continues to make an impact locally. She is second vice chair of the Wilmington Chamber of Commerce board this year.

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JOSE V. SARTARELLI CHANCELLOR, UNCW

ith a corporate

in Wbackground the international

pharmaceutical industry and higher ed administration, Jose Sartarelli became UNCW’s sixth chancellor (its ninth leader) in mid-2015. Before taking the position, he was West Virginia University’s College of Business and Economics dean and chief global officer.

WHY HE’S A POWER PLAYER:

JOHN GIZDIC PRESIDENT AND CEO, NHRMC

n 2016, John Gizdic was appointed to head up New Hanover

succeeding retiring president and CEO Jack IRegional, Barto. Gizdic started at NHRMC in 2005 as vice president of

JIM MORTON PRESIDENT, CFCC

strategic planning and business development.

im Morton has more than 20 years of leadership experience in industry and economic development sectors. He joined Cape Fear Community College in 2015 as vice president of business and financial services and later became executive vice president. Morton was named the college’s president in 2018.

WHY HE’S A POWER PLAYER: Even without the current

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discussion about the hospital’s future, Gizdic easily would be among this year’s Power Players. As head of NHRMC, he is in charge of the region's largest employer (more than 7,000 employees) and dominant health care provider that continues to expand its physical footprint. During Gizdic’s time as president and CEO, the health system has seen significant growth in its patient volumes, revenues and services even as industrywide changes are transforming reimbursement models. Gizdic and New Hanover County Manager Chris Coudriet this summer announced a process to look at the future of the county-owned hospital, including accepting proposals from outside health systems interested in buying or managing NHRMC. An advisory board was assembled to research those options as well as maintaining the county’s ownership of the hospital. The ultimate decision, however, rests with the county commissioners and hospital’s board of trustees.

WHY HE’S A POWER PLAYER:

As CFCC’s president, Morton directs and manages all administrative and academic operations as well as facilities and budget. CFCC grew its student enrollment by 5% from last year. The college has developed several new programs and short-term training to fill workforce gaps, helped with business recruitment efforts through its customized training program. Last year, it launched an electrical lineworker training program and has developed a Construction Institute, a training program on skills such as masonry, plumbing and carpentry for entry-level jobs

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Wilmington with SEA-Path, a new dual admission pathway for students created through an agreement with the university that was signed in October. CFCC recently relocated its barber school to its campus in downtown Wilmington and is expanding its Burgaw campus. College employees: 1,200

During Sartarelli’s time as chancellor, UNCW has seen significant growth both inside the classroom and on campus grounds. The school has set records for annual student enrollment numbers – nearly 17,500 this fall – as well as for graduation figures and philanthropic giving. Last year, the university received a commitment for a $10 million gift, the largest in the school’s history, and held an endowment worth $98 million at the end of the last fiscal year. New academic degrees, including doctoral offerings in psychology and nursing practice, were added, and its Carnegie Classification level went up to “Doctoral Universities: High Research Activity.” As student and degree numbers have grown, so has construction activity, with $400 million in campus improvements and new buildings such as Veterans Hall as well as hurricane-related repairs, including extensive renovations at Dobo Hall. As chancellor, Sartarelli is responsible for more than 2,300 employees, making UNCW one of the largest employers in the region. Extra credit: Sartarelli attended Michigan State University as a Fulbright scholar.


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DAVID SIMMONS CHAIRMAN AND CEO, PPD

avid Simmons was named

chairman and CEO DPPD’s in 2012. He joined PPD after 15 years with Pfizer Inc., where he served as president of the emerging markets and established products business units. More than 30 years after Fred Eshelman started the contract research organization, its headquarters remains in Wilmington.

WHY HE’S A POWER PLAYER:

Under Simmons’ leadership, PPD’s total enterprise value has tripled, and the number of company employees has doubled. It announced last month that its parent company, PPD

Inc., filed notice with the SEC stating interest in an initial public offering. The company previously went public in 1996 and was later sold to affiliates of investment firms The Carlyle Group and Hellman & Friedman in 2011 for $3.9 billion, returning then to operate as a private company. During Simmons’ time as head of PPD, it recapitalized in 2017 in a deal that valued the company at $9 billion. PPD was named best CRO provider at the World ADC Awards this year. In 2017, Simmons was named the recipient of the Louis V. Gerstner Jr. Excellence Award by The Carlyle Group for leading a Carlyle portfolio company. Simmons serves on the board of directors for Albany Molecular Research Inc. and the board for Edelman Financial Engines. In his philanthropic efforts, he serves on multiple advisory boards and is on the board of directors for The First Tee of Greater Wilmington.

Current projects: Over 950 clinical studies across 92 countries Company employees: More than 22,000 in 46 countries; 1,500 locally

TRASK FAMILY he Trask family can trace

roots in the Cape Fear Titsregion back to the 18th century, later making a name for themselves as successful lettuce farmers and then landowners and prominent developers.

WHY THEY’RE POWER PLAYERS:

The Trasks purchased land in the 1950s that would one day become a master-planned, mixed-use development on Eastwood Road called Autumn Hall, now considered a soughtafter address in the region that’s

set to grow with plans for more retail, residential and office space. The development helped set the tone for an area that has drawn wealthy residents and high-paying employers to what is considered one of Wilmington’s major financial districts. Trask Land also developed Earth Fare grocery storeanchored Renaissance Market shopping center on Military Cutoff Road. The center also includes West Marine, Blaze Pizza, Starbucks, Verizon and a nail salon. Members of the Trask family started out as farmers. Over the years, they used their farm land to enter the development industry, with Raiford Graham Trask Sr. creating major subdivisions throughout Wilmington. He also developed Duck Haven Golf Club, which is now Autumn Hall, among other numerous contributions, including donating or selling land for what is now the

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On behalf of the CresCom Bank Team Marshall Cooper Lee Bunch Ronnie Burbank Area Executive City Executive Commercial Lender

Congratulations

to the WilmingtonBiz 100 honorees!

Member FDIC

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JULIE WILSEY AIRPORT DIRECTOR, WILMINGTON INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT ulie Wilsey has served ILM

She landed the Jforrole20asyears. the airport’s leader in

2013 after serving as deputy director. Previously an Army engineer officer, Wilsey first joined the airport in 1999 as director of facilities. She earned an airport executive certification from the American Association of Airport Executives in 2008 and an MBA in 2015 from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.

WHY SHE’S A POWER PLAYER

Under Wilsey’s leadership, ILM set an annual record of more than 934,000 passengers in 2018, up 12% from the previous year. In September the airport was tracking at 16% growth, as ILM officials watch for the 1 million passengers mark this year. The airport’s recent progress is attributed to the addition of United Airlines last year and several new nonstop flights Wilsey and her team helped rein in for business travel. United, the airport’s third and newest carrier, came after four years of conversations. The airport is now working with the area’s tourism industry to find an inbound destination to try and go after a low-fare carrier that could bring more visitors to the area. On top of new flights, Wilsey is overseeing the $60 million airport terminal expansion and renovation project, now in its second phase. Once complete, the multiyear project is expected to grow the airport’s terminal by 75%. Outside the terminal, ILM is recruiting developers for an airport hotel, gas station and warehouse/ distribution facility. Wilsey is responsible for the airport’s 50 employees. ILM reports an economic impact of nearly $1.8 billion a year on the local economy.

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CONTINUED FROM p28 campus of the University of North Carolina Wilmington. UNCW’s 5,200-seat Trask Coliseum, where some of the school’s most popular sports games are played, bears his name. Raiford Graham Trask Sr.’s son and grandson, Raiford Trask Jr. and Raiford Trask III, respectively, have developed Autumn Hall and other current and forthcoming projects in the Cape Fear region. Number of note: Trask Land has developed over 500 residential lots since 2010.

grade school teachers buy the supplies and books they need. To date, the Teachers Fund has awarded over 1,500 grants totaling more than $300,000. Company employees: 376 sales associates, 70 staff members

JAY WILEMAN PRESIDENT AND CEO, GE HITACHI NUCLEAR ENERGY

ay Wilman began his

with GE as a Jcareer nuclear fuel engineer in

DAVID SWAIN OWNER, SWAIN & ASSOCIATES

CEO, INTRACOASTAL REALTY CORP.

avid Swain founded his firm nearly four decades ago.

that time, he’s been active in the development of DSince a multitude of income-producing properties, including

shopping centers, office buildings, warehouses, free-standing financial institutions and national restaurant chains. The son of a schoolteacher, Swain and his wife in 2009 donated $1 million to UNCW to found the Swain Center for Business and Economic Services.

WHY HE’S A POWER PLAYER: Swain’s development vision can be seen throughout the Wilmington area and beyond, in existing developments in North Carolina and South Carolina and a $250 million project coming to Military Cutoff and Eastwood roads in Wilmington called CenterPoint. Planned as a retail, hospitality, office and residential center, CenterPoint is expected to include a seven-story full-service hotel, and Swain’s son, Jason, is a partner in the development. In addition to the hotel, CenterPoint is also expected to include one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments above retail space; retail shops and restaurants that combine national chains and local boutiques; first-class office space; and two multi-level, structured parking decks. Included in David Swain’s extensive development portfolio is The Forum, a shopping center on Military Cutoff Road that was one of the heralds of high-dollar, high-profile construction that came in subsequent years to the corridor. During the early phase of his career, David Swain developed and constructed in excess of 45 apartment complexes. He currently owns 27 of those properties. Since 1979, a division of Swain & Associates has specialized in the development of retail shopping centers and has developed, constructed or redeveloped about 80 properties. Swain Management LLC continues the management and leasing of the shopping centers within the Swain & Associates portfolio.

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im Wallace founded

Realty as a JIntracoastal boutique firm in 1976, and since then, the independent real estate agency has grown to hundreds of agents and hundreds of millions of dollars in sales. It’s one of the largest and most successful independent real estate companies in Eastern North Carolina, Wallace said.

WHY HE’S A POWER PLAYER:

The company and its agents have been instrumental in the development of the region over the years, including landmark real estate projects such as Station One at Wrightsville Beach, Lumina Station, the Parkside at Mayfaire and Seagrove communities and the Spartina Townhomes. Most recently, Intracoastal Realty Corp.’s agents were selected as the brokers for the River Place development in downtown Wilmington. Last year, the agency had nearly 3,000 in closed sales and almost $1 billion in sales volume in the tri-county area. What he's most proud of: Intracoastal Realty’s Teachers Fund, established in 2005 to help public and private kindergarten through fifth-

Wilmington. He held various roles in GE businesses during his career before returning to Wilmington in 2012 to serve as COO and senior vice president of nuclear plant projects at GE Hitachi. Wileman was named GE Hitachi’s leader in 2015.

WHY HE’S A POWER PLAYER: Wileman has been

leading nuclear technology advancements and solidifying contracts at GE Hitachi, during an overall period of restructuring and changes at the corporate level to keep General Electric afloat. GE Hitachi, an advanced nuclear reactor technology and services firm, part of GE’s power business, has two agreements in Europe that could bring its latest small modular reactor technology to commercialization. The company has acquired a decommissioning firm and gained a new contract this year. Its nuclear fuel business, Global Nuclear Fuel, is also making headway with test assemblies of its newest fuel products, among other fuel contracts. The company, which shares its site in Wilmington with GE Aviation, reports around 2,800 employees across the campus. Years with GE: 25 Community outreach: Chairman of the 2019 Cape Fear Heart Walk next year’s chairman of the United Way of the Cape Fear Area’s annual campaign


Congrats to the WilmingtonBiz 100! We strive to help you accelerate your success. We help successful businesses and professionals design and implement a detailed plan and process that seeks to optimize their growth and profitability. Contact us to find out how.

Stephen Gaskins, CFPÂŽ Knox Gibson, MBA CEO & Founder Assistant Vice President

Erin Connor Operations Manager

Tena Aull Client Services Associate

(910) 207-0509 | SeacoastWealthWilmington.com 1908 Eastwood Road Suite 217, Wilmington, NC 28403 Securities offered through LPL Financial, member FINRA/SIPC. Investment advice offered through Stratos Wealth Partners, Ltd., a registered investment advisor. Stratos Wealth Partners, Ltd. and Seacoast Wealth Management are separate entities from LPL Financial. LPL Financial Representatives offer access to Trust Services through The Private Trust Company N.A., an affiliate of LPL Financial. The SmartVestor program is a directory of investment professionals. Neither Dave Ramsey nor SmartVestor are affiliates of Seacoast Wealth Management, Stratos Wealth Partners, or LPL Financial.


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 CHANGEMAKERS, IN FRONT OF OR BEHIND THE SCENES

THE INFLUENCERS

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STEVE ANDERSON OWNER AND DEVELOPER, SAMM PROPERTIES

salesman since high

when he started Aschool, selling clothing, Steve

Anderson is still a salesman of sorts today but of a much larger product that he works to create.

WHY HE’S AN INFLUENCER:

Anderson has impacted the Mayfaire/Landfall submarket. In 2011, he embarked on The Offices at Mayfaire, a complex that would grow to The Offices at Mayfaire I through VI. Anderson is also the developer of Bradley Creek Station, a project underway on Oleander Drive, Howe Creek Landing, The Offices at Airlie and the 17th Street Medical Park. Anderson, whose partner is another Influencer pick, Mark Maynard, has developed 420,000 square feet in the Mayfaire/Bradley Creek area and more than 550,000 square feet of additional commercial retail and office space. First deal: In high school, selling a batch of Lacoste shirts he bought from a manufacturer

Grise Middle School with about 85 members and has grown to four campuses and about 5,000 members as of 2017. The locations include a 90,000-square-foot facility in Wilmington, which Ashcraft designed; a 6-acre site in Southport; a future church site in Leland where the congregation currently meets at Belville Elementary School; and a campus in New Bern. PC3 has expanded its number of employees to 70 and has also expanded its reach beyond the region. The church has a podcast that is streamed by soldiers and listeners in other states. Ashcraft received a Service Above Self award for

the church's relief efforts after Hurricane Florence. Hobby: Surfing

joined the multigenerational company Boney Architects, which later merged with LS3P. He has served as LS3P’s Wilmington Office Leader and Senior Living Practice Leader, and in his current position focuses on business development for the entire firm, which has eight offices across three states.

WHY HE’S AN INFLUENCER: On

CHRIS BONEY CHIEF RELATIONSHIPS OFFICER AND PRINCIPAL, LS3P

s part of the architecture

with longtime roots in Afirm Wilmington, Chris Boney has played a role in designing a number of marquee projects in the Port City. In 1997, Boney

SHANE FERNANDO EXECUTIVE AND ARTISTIC DIRECTOR, CFCC WILSON CENTER hane Fernando opened one of the largest and most

advanced performing arts center in Stechnologically Eastern North Carolina with the Wilson Center at

the architecture side, Boney has influenced the look and feel of some of Wilmington’s largest projects in recent years. He served as design principal in charge on buildings such as Cape Fear Community College’s Union Station and Wilson Center, Live Oak Bank’s headquarters and NHRMC’s Women’s & Children’s Hospital But his work outside of the office has been significant as well. With the Wilmington Chamber of Commerce, for which he chaired the board in 2015, Boney and others worked on the group’s Cape Fear Future initiative and made sure to have a voice in the development of New Hanover County’s first comprehensive plan. Among his other business and community roles, Boney also has served as chairman of the Wilmington Planning Commission, helping to rewrite the Central Business District zoning ordinance. Current boards: USS Battleship North Carolina Commission chair and Cameron Art Museum trustees

CFCC. It has drawn national Broadway tour productions and A-list stars that have in turn attracted more business to downtown Wilmington.

WHY HE’S AN INFLUENCER: Some of the center’s numbers

MIKE ASHCRAFT SENIOR PASTOR, PORT CITY COMMUNITY CHURCH

ike Ashcraft co-founded

City Community MPort Church in 1999 after

deciding to start a church designed for people who don’t go to church or follow a religion.

WHY HE’S AN INFLUENCER: Port

include ticket revenue of more than $17.5 million; more than $1.1 million in taxes collected; nearly 340,000 tickets sold; 36 national Broadway tours; and an estimated annual impact of $17 million. Among his other accomplishments, Fernando serves as an adjunct professor for UNCW’s Department of Communication Studies, worked on the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee and spearheaded the concept and fundraising for the UNCW Millennium Clock Tower. Current projects he’s involved in include serving as programming consultant and trustee, Thalian Hall Center for the Performing Arts; president, N.C. Presenters Consortium; member, Screen Actors Guild and American Federation of Television and Radio Artists; trustee, DanceUSA; and advisor, National Dance Project.

City Community Church started at the auditorium at Rolandw i l m i n g t o n b i z m a g a z i n e . c o m

RUSTY CARTER CEO, ATLANTIC PACKAGING

usty Carter joined his

business full Rfamily’s time in the 1970s and

has been at its helm for more than 40 years. The firm’s acquisition of Crown Box Co. in Wilmington in 1980 established its Wilmington headquarters. He leads 1,250

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PHOTO BY KEVIN KLEITCHES

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

KEMP BURDETTE RIVERKEEPER, CAPE FEAR RIVER WATCH

K

emp Burdette joined Cape Fear River Watch in 2008. He was named Riverkeeper in 2010. In that role, he serves in many capacities as an advocate, educator and protector of the Lower Cape Fear River. Prior to his roles with the nonprofit, he served in the U.S. Navy and was a Peace Corps volunteer.

WHY HE’S AN INFLUENCER:

Under Burdette’s leadership, Cape Fear River Watch has played a major role in the local GenX and PFAS water contamination issue. The nonprofit reached out to researchers and pulled together experts for local forums on the topic. And as it worked to raise community awareness, the organization also took legal action against The Chemours Co., alleging years of contamination of the Cape Fear River through the company’s operations at its Fayetteville Works facility in Bladen County. The state’s consent order last year that came out of that action helps hold the company responsible to fix water and air pollution caused by GenX and other PFAS. Cape Fear River Watch continues to meet with state regulators and Wilmington, Delaware-based Chemours to work through the order, which includes building a thermal oxidizer at the plant. The technology was included in the firm’s planned $100 million investment at its facility to reduce air and water emissions by at least 99%. Recently the consent order again came into play with water supplies at a Cumberland County school where two PFAS compounds exceeded levels outlined in the order, meaning that Chemours is responsible for supplying a water filtration solution there. Burdette is also working to curb pollution associated with industrialscale factory farms in the Cape Fear River Basin. In addition, the nonprofit works to restore migratory fish populations that have seen decline over the past century due to dams along the Cape Fear. It advocated for coal ash pond clean up in the region. Burdette serves on the advisory board for N.C. Conservation Network, and on the Waterkeeper Council for the Waterkeeper Alliance, a global clean-water advocacy organization, representing 35 Waterkeepers of the South Atlantic Region. Rollin’ on a River: Burdette has paddled the entire Cape Fear River.

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CONTINUED FROM p33 employees nationwide, with 100 local employees.

WHY HE’S AN INFLUENCER:

Carter’s family business began in the 1940s as Atlantic Publishing, which ran a weekly Pulitzer Prize-winning newspaper that is still in operation today. Carter oversaw the company’s branching out into packaging equipment and materials as the Atlantic Packaging business. The company now has 16 domestic locations and two offshore facilities in the Dominican Republic and Honduras. In 2016, Carter passed on the president role to his son, Wes, who envisioned and opened Atlantic’s Research and Solution Center in Charlotte. Atlantic Packaging is finalizing an expansion on its North 23rd Street headquarters this year; a growth of its paper converting capacities in Columbus County; and warehouse expansion in Charleston, South Carolina. It’s also opening distribution centers in Reno, Nevada, and Dallas. Headquarters addition: 16,000 square feet

implementer – for several major issues that can impact county residents and businesses. The biggest one right now is, of course, the yearlong review into county-owned New Hanover Regional Medical Center’s future. He’s also had a hand in other major projects during his time with the county. In 2012, New Hanover County implemented its first strategic plan, which was updated in 2018. Other public-private developments in the pipeline that Coudriet could play an influential role in include the potential redevelopment of the Government Center off South College Road and whatever changes the Project Grace proposal goes through in downtown Wilmington. County employees: 1,800

BEN DAVID DISTRICT ATTORNEY, 6TH PROSECUTORIAL DISTRICT

urrently in his fifth term,

David was first elected CBen as the district attorney

CHRIS COUDRIET COUNTY MANAGER, NEW HANOVER COUNTY

hris Coudriet has been in

county manager post Cthe since 2012 after serving as

assistant county manager for four years. Before coming to New Hanover County, he was the county manager in Franklin and Washington counties.

WHY HE’S AN INFLUENCER:

As the chief administrator for New Hanover County’s government, Coudriet is over a $399 million budget. While he operates under the direction of the five-member county board of commissioners, Coudriet is the face – and the policy

for the district that covers New Hanover and Pender counties in 2004. David is a past president of the N.C. Conference of District Attorneys.

WHY HE’S AN INFLUENCER:

David calls the DA’s office the largest law firm in the district because of its staff size – 45 people. David oversees the organization, which prosecutes 5,000 felonies and 20,000 misdemeanors a year, but also in his role has taken on highprofile law and order issues. In 2017, he filed an injunction against more than 700 criminal street gang members from associating with each other. The injunction, which ended this year, was noted as the first of its kind in the state though it did receive criticism for its scope. David also went after several hotels on Market Street that were sites of ongoing

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To each of the

Seahawks HONORED

being by the Greater Wilmington Business Journal: You’re one of a hundred on this list, and

one in a MILLION to us!

Thank you for representing UNCW so well.

You’ve made us very proud!

An EEO/AA Institution


W I L M I N GTO N B I Z 1 0 0 I N F LU E N C E R S criminal activity, getting owners to implement more security procedures through consent agreements. On the opioid epidemic front, David along with his brother, Jon, the DA for the district that includes Brunswick County, last year announced an initiative to request higher bond amounts for those arrested for selling heroin and other prosecutorial moves. Partnering up: David cofounded the employment nonprofit Hometown Hires (now StepUp Wilmington) with Live Oak Bank’s Chip Mahan

JEFF EARP PRESIDENT, FUNSTON FARMS, BRUNSWICK FOREST AND FUNSTON CO.

eff Earp describes himself

and farmer Jaswhoa landowner has a construction

company. But he remains invested in and was instrumental in the development of the master-planned community Brunswick Forest.

WHY HE’S AN INFLUENCER:

KEN DULL PRESIDENT, MCKINLEY BUILDING CORP.

cKinley “Ken” Dull began

construction career in Mhis 1985, founding McKinley Building in 1992. Since then, the company has become one of the city’s leading, locally owned commercial builders with more than 300 projects in its portfolio.

WHY HE’S AN INFLUENCER:

Dull has literally had a hand in some of the most highprofile projects in the region, including Sawmill Point in downtown Wilmington and The Offices at Mayfaire I-VI to name just two. Dull has also served on numerous civic and professional boards. They include the city of Wilmington Planning Commission (chairman of the board for four years) and the New Hanover County Planning Board (chairman for three years). In the past, he has also served on boards for Wilmington Business Development, Cape Fear Academy, Wilmington Housing Authority and several banks. Political hat: Dull serves on the Wrightsville Beach Board of Aldermen, after being elected in 2017.

Brunswick Forest is a nearly 5,000-acre tract that the Winnabow native helped develop and build beginning in 2005, along with Lord Baltimore Capital Corp. The high-profile community not only contains thousands of homes but also contains a major commercial portion used by Brunswick County residents from miles around. Earp continues to be involved in Brunswick Forest and other development projects, earlier this year expressing his concern over a potential Cape Fear Crossing route through Brunswick Forest. Residential lots developed in Brunswick Forest so far: 3,200

volume ($275 million last year), managed more than 3 million square feet of commercial space and developed $250 million in commercial real estate. Among Eckel’s current projects are Autumn Hall’s next phase, Woodlands at Echo Farms, Renaissance Apartments and a fifth Publix Grocery Store for the company, this one in Carolina Beach. Eckel served as chairman of the Business Alliance for a Sound Economy for two years as the organization restructured and focused on the advocacy needs of the regional business community. Eckel serves on the NHRMC Board of Trustees and the boards of BASE, the Wilmington chamber and the Wilmington-Cape Fear Home Builders Association. He is also a member of the Partnership Advisory Group evaluating the future of NHRMC. Company employees: 23

JOHN ELLIOTT DIRECTOR OF GOVERNMENT AND COMMUNITY RELATIONS, DUKE ENERGY'S EAST REGION

ohn Elliott has more than

decades of experience Jtwo in the electric utility

business. He covers 43 counties that make up Duke Energy’s east region in North Carolina. Elliott was also chairman this year of the Wilmington Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors.

WHY HE’S AN INFLUENCER:

BRIAN ECKEL PARTNER, CAPE FEAR COMMERCIAL/ GHK CAPE FEAR DEVELOPMENT

rian Eckel co-founded

Fear Commercial BCape with Vin Wells in 2001,

and has had a major impact on commercial real estate, development and the local business community ever since.

WHY HE’S AN INFLUENCER:

In 18 years, the company has achieved $1.5 billion in sales

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Through his role at Duke Energy, Elliott is responsible for building and managing relationships with local governmental officials and customers in the east region. Elliott oversees seven employees in his region. Working with community partners, the company serves as a catalyst by addressing issues and advancing opportunities that enhance the local and state business climate. It has joined N.C. Ports on a project to raise power lines

LAUREN HENDERSON CFO, CASTLEBRANCH

auren Henderson joined

LWilmington-based CastleBranch in 2006

and currently serves as its chief financial officer. She holds a bachelor’s degree in business management from Ramapo College of New Jersey and received her MBA from the University of North Carolina Wilmington in 2012.

WHY SHE’S AN INFLUENCER:

As CFO, Henderson provides executive leadership for all financial aspects of CastleBranch, a company with about 400 employees. She previously held several accounting, finance and management positions with the company before becoming chief financial officer in 2014. In 2013, she joined the UNCW Cameron Executive Network as a mentor to business school students and the Women’s Impact Network of New Hanover County. She was also an advisory board member for WILMA’s Women to Watch Leadership Initiative between 2015 and 2017. In 2016, she became a member of Cape Fear Community College’s accounting advisory board, and in 2017 joined the boards for both the Good Shepherd Center and Wilmington Business Development.

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NATALIE ENGLISH

for the future being canceled or stalled by the state. And last year, she helped form the chamber’s African American Business Council, to connect and grow the African American business community. She has also helped create a business emergency center to aid future storm recovery. English has increased chamber membership and revenue and led its transition to a new accounting platform, membership database and web presence. She was also elected this year to serve on the board for the Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives. Years as a chamber executive: 20

atalie English has

English leads a staff of six at the chamber, which markets the region and creates networking and educational opportunities for businesses. English recently helped spur a regional transportation advocacy group in the wake of local road projects scheduled

EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, CFPUA

im Flechtner, who

a chamber of Nbeen commerce executive

WHY SHE’S AN INFLUENCER:

JIM FLECHTNER named executive Jwas director in 2013, leads

PRESIDENT AND CEO, WILMINGTON CHAMBER OF COMMERCE

for more than 20 years. She began her role as president and CEO of the Wilmington Chamber of Commerce in 2017, after serving 11 years with the Charlotte Chamber of Commerce, including as its chief public policy officer.

Companies. Throughout downtown, she has coordinated the sale or lease of numerous historical properties for tech and business service companies. Other restaurant development: PinPoint Restaurant, The District, Tarantelli’s and Platypus & Gnome

TERRY ESPY PRESIDENT, MOMENTUM COMPANIES

erry Espy’s career in real estate development and brokerage spans more than 30 years.

T

WHY SHE’S AN INFLUENCER:

Espy is currently involved in innovative projects in downtown Wilmington as it continues to become revitalized. She is assisting in the development of the commercial component of South Front District by Tribute

an organization with 300 employees and an $85 million operating budget this fiscal year. Flechtner previously served as chief operations officer for the utility before being promoted.

Fear River, the area’s source of drinking water. CFPUA has started work on a $43 million project to add enhanced capabilities at the Sweeney Water Treatment Plant to treat for PFAS. Flechtner has also guided CFPUA’s impact on local economic development, often in partnership with New Hanover County, the city of Wilmington and others. This includes recent work to provide new water and sewer infrastructure along U.S. 421 to the Pender County line and water service in northern New Hanover County, to help business growth and real estate development. The utility provides water and sewer services to about 200,000 people in New Hanover County. Number of accounts: 71,000

WHY HE’S AN INFLUENCER:

Flechtner has been key in CFPUA’s response to local water-quality issues involving emerging contaminants such as GenX and other PFAS, including monitoring the water and implementing plant upgrades. In 2007, the utility filed a federal lawsuit against Chemours and DuPont after the discovery of the contaminants in the Cape

HUNTLEY GARRIOTT PRESIDENT, LIVE OAK BANK

untley Garriott currently

as president Hserves of Live Oak Bank,

a subsidiary of Live Oak Bancshares. Prior to joining Live Oak, Garriott was a partner at Goldman Sachs

ELECTED OFFICIALS’ MAJOR MOVES While elected government officials were not included in the WilmingtonBiz 100, they without a doubt have a large impact in the community. From the potential sale of a government-owned hospital system to public-private partnerships in residential and commercial developments, elected officials are making major decisions. NEW HANOVER COUNTY: Perhaps the most pressing issue for commissioners this year was whether to move forward with exploring the sale of NHRMC. In September, commissioners voted 3-2 to move ahead to

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receive proposals from possible buyers or management partners. They will have a say on any final offer if one is negotiated. This year, county commissioners also approved a resolution to pursue a public-private partnership for the redevelopment of the government center at 230 Government Center Drive. Other issues include the decision to end the county’s agreement with Wave Transit and the continuing exploration of different options for Project Grace, a publicprivate project in downtown Wilmington.


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 its Investment Banking Division and served as cohead of the firm’s Banks and Specialty Finance team within the Financial Institutions Group. Over his 20-year career at Goldman, Huntley covered regional banks throughout North America and held a variety of roles focused on traditional investment banking, private equity investing, debt capital markets and risk management. He was named managing director in 2007 and partner in 2014. He earned a bachelor’s degree in mathematics and economics from the University of Virginia, where he was a Jefferson Scholar.

WHY HE’S AN INFLUENCER:

Garriott became Live Oak’s bank president in the fall of 2018. In the role, he is head of the daily operations of Live Oak Bank, the only publicly traded company headquartered in Wilmington and a digitally focused bank serving customers across the country. Live Oak has been named the top SBA lender in the nation, USDA lender of the year in 2019 and the BAI Global Innovation Award winner for converting all bank operations to the cloud. Current community projects: NourishNC, Cape Fear Habitat for Humanity, Collective Impact and IDEA Roundtable

DONNA GIRARDOT CHAIR, ILM AIRPORT AUTHORITY AND NEW HANOVER COUNTY PLANNING BOARD

board, Girardot played a pivotal role in getting different groups negotiating and on board with New Hanover County’s comprehensive plan. She also is the planning board representative for New Hanover County’s current Unified Development Ordinance process. Another role: In 2003, she founded Business Alliance for a Sound Economy and was its CEO for 10 years.

onna Girardot’s

in the Dinvolvement business community and civic issues in Wilmington include 11 years as the executive director of the Wilmington-Cape Fear Home Builders Association, to name just one leadership role. She is in her second year as chairwoman of Wilmington International Airport.

WHY SHE’S AN INFLUENCER:

In her role on the airport authority, she is helping to steer ILM through a $60 million expansion project. She has worked with state legislators to secure funding for the airport, and, among other goals, aims to secure more carriers for ILM. She has also drafted and advocated for federal, state and local legislation and regulation on issues promoting regional economic development aimed at protecting the environment and the area’s quality of life. As head of the planning

CITY OF WILMINGTON: Construction for River Place (opposite page), an $80-million mixed-use project on Water Street developed by East West Partners and the city, is slated to be done in 2020. East West Partners also submitted a $90 million proposal for a mixed-use development on North Front and Third streets this year. In October, City Council accepted the proposal. City council in November approved contract revisions and allocated $11.16 million in additional funding for North Waterfront Park, a 6.6-acre park with a concert venue. PENDER COUNTY: More than a year

BOBBY HARRELSON OWNER, THE HARRELSON CO.

eveloper Bobby Harrelson

created more than 100 Dhas residential communities in

HAL KITCHIN

WHY HE’S AN INFLUENCER:

PARTNER, MCGUIREWOODS, AND CHAIR, UNCW BOARD OF TRUSTEES

Southeastern North Carolina.

Harrelson might be best known in the Wilmington area for jump-starting the growth that has come to northern Brunswick County, first with the Magnolia Greens community, then Waterford and Compass Pointe. In the 1970s and ’80s, he built the first condos in Carolina Beach. Throughout his more than 58-year career, he has

later, Pender County officials are still working to get funds to pay for Hurricane Florence repairs at the stillclosed county courthouse. Exterior and interior repair work was underway as of press time. Officials are coordinating payments from FEMA and insurance to cover the cost of the courthouse repairs and are looking at contributions from the Golden LEAF Foundation. BRUNSWICK COUNTY: The $1.1 billion Cape Fear Crossing project, which sought to find another connection between Brunswick and New Hanover counties over the Cape Fear River, was put on hold this year after NCDOT

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consistently purchased land in areas that were not yet popular yet have since seen tremendous growth. Along with Compass Pointe, current projects include Campus 1003 on South 17th Street in Wilmington and Highland Forest in Shallotte. Another major contribution was the Jo Ann Carter Harrelson Center, a nonprofit corporation named for his late wife, which has been in existence for 14 years. There are currently 18 nonprofit partners in the building. Lot counts: Harrelson developed 2,200 lots in Compass Pointe, 1,200 in Magnolia Greens and 800 in Waterford.

al Kitchin is a partner

the law firm of Hwith McGuireWoods LLP. His expertise includes antitrust, business tort and breach of contract cases, as well as bankruptcy, real estate and land use law. A member of the N.C. Bar Association, Kitchin is past president of the New Hanover County Bar Association’s Young Lawyers

stopped all plans and design work due to lack of funding. One goal for Brunswick County Commissioners is to request that NCDOT initiate a comprehensive transportation plan for Brunswick County that includes municipal and other county partners. One key issue during the 2019 municipal elections in northern Brunswick County was a reverse osmosis plant to filter GenX out of the area’s drinking water. Steve Hosmer and Barry Laub were both elected to the Brunswick Regional Water and Sewer H2GO Commission on the promise of proceeding with the plant. – JOHANNA CANO

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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 Division and past chairman of the N.C. Bar Association’s Antitrust & Complex Business Disputes section. He attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill as a Morehead Scholar and earned his law degree from Wake Forest University School of Law.

WHY HE’S AN INFLUENCER:

Kitchin’s role extends beyond his law practice to numerous community affairs, including being elected chairman of the University of North Carolina Wilmington’s Board of Trustees this year. He has been a member of UNCW’s Board of Trustees since 2013. The UNC Board of Governors reappointed him to a second term as a UNCW trustee through 2021. Kitchin also has served as chair of the Wilmington Chamber of Commerce's board and the Cape Fear Future Foundation. Kitchin is a former member of the Coastal Horizons Center’s board and a former member of the city of Wilmington’s Vision 2020 Oversight Committee.

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CHARLIE MATTOX MARKET PRESIDENT, BB&T

n 18-year veteran of BB&T,

Mattox has held ACharlie various roles with the Winston-Salem-based bank including in commercial banking, retail banking and bank operations. He was recognized as one of the highest-performing market presidents within BB&T for 2018 and 2019.

WHY HE’S AN INFLUENCER:

Mattox is responsible for the leadership and financial performance of the BB&T Commercial Teams in the Wilmington, Brunswick County and Columbus County markets, which includes more than 30 bank branches, $1.3 billion in loans and $2.6 billion in

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deposits. Mattox will be a key local figure in the BB&T and SunTrust Bank merger integration to Truist. As of press time, the $66 billion merger was set to close Dec. 6 after receiving approval from federal regulators. Truist is expected to become the sixth-largest bank in the U.S. Chamber role: Led the Choose Cape Fear regional marketing initiative

MARK MAYNARD PRESIDENT AND CEO, TRIBUTE COMPANIES

ark Maynard Sr. began

career in real estate Mhisdevelopment while still in college in 1982, starting as sole

proprietor in real estate investing and building in 1985 and eventually founding Biltmark in Wilmington in 1999. Biltmark evolved and expanded into Tribute Companies Inc.

WHY HE’S AN INFLUENCER:

Through his companies, Maynard has created highprofile developments in Wilmington, including the South Front District, and throughout the Southeastern U.S. The South Front District has won accolades for repurposing unused industrial and public housing properties and breathing new life into the area. Maynard has developed 10,000 residential units during his career. Tribute Companies owns and manages 6,000 units in North Carolina and South Carolina. The corporation has also built multiple for-sale condominiums and townhome communities, along with single-family communities and retail, office and hospitality developments. Local philanthropy: Local


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SANDY & RONNIE MCNEILL PRINCIPALS AND OWNERS, LIBERTY HEALTHCARE AND REHABILITATION SERVICES

rothers John “Sandy”

Jr. and Ronald BMcNeill “Ronnie” McNeill are

continuing their family’s line in health care that goes back more than a century.

WHY THEY'RE INFLUENCERS:

In its industry, Liberty is one of the largest players in North Carolina. It runs a network of skilled nursing facilities and continuing care retirement communities (including Carolina Bay at Autumn Hall), home care hospice services and the state’s oldest pharmacy – McNeill’s Pharmacy in Whiteville, among others. Outside of their work, the brothers also have had significant influence in the local economy, playing an early role in PPD’s start. In 2011, the McNeill brothers and their wives donated what was at the time UNCW’s largest philanthropic gift, which benefitted the university’s nursing and business schools. The school named its nursing building in the family’s honor.

Monteith founded the firm in Charlotte in 1998.

WHY HE'S AN INFLUENCER:

Signs of the impact Monteith and his company have had on the Cape Fear region can be found via major projects throughout the area. In addition to overhauling an historic downtown Wilmington building for its new headquarters, and being involved in school construction, repair and renovation, the company has done work for New Hanover Regional Medical Center and on Wilmington International Airport’s current expansion. In addition to his CEO role at his firm, Monteith founded the Camp Schreiber Foundation in 2010, helping at-risk youth develop into college-educated leaders. In June, the company moved into the more than 7,000-square-foot building at 208 Princess St. in Wilmington. 

DICK JONES JEFF MORVIL OWNER, MORVIL ADVERTISING + DESIGN GROUP

eff Morvil began his design career in South Florida, where he worked at two advertising agencies on accounts including Florida Tourism, Cigna, Marriott International and Northern Trust. He founded Morvil Advertising + Design Group, previously known as Art by Morvil, in 1985.

J

WHY HE'S AN INFLUENCER:

JOHN MONTEITH CEO, MONTEITH CONSTRUCTION CORP.

onteith Construction

a Wilmington Mopened office in 2005. John

PHOTO BY LOGAN BURKE

founders and longstanding sponsors, Maynard and his wife, Anna, started and chaired the first JDRF Hope Gala held in Wilmington in 2004.

Morvil’s agency has created marketing and branding for many Wilmington businesses and organizations. Through its services, Morvil has helped companies in the area gain recognition with advertising and branding that is seen throughout the community. Those include Wilmington International Airport, UNCW, EmergeOrtho, Cape Fear Commercial,

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PRESIDENT AND CEO, YMCA OF SOUTHEASTERN NORTH CAROLINA

ick Jones has served as president and CEO of the

of Southeastern North Carolina since April DYMCA 2003. Jones is responsible for working with the local YMCA board to build its future and collaboration in the region, as well as develop staff, programs and services. Jones oversees the entire YMCA of Southeastern North Carolina association and a staff of more than 300.

WHY HE’S AN INFLUENCER: Jones’ leadership has help

expand the YMCA of Southeastern North Carolina from a single branch to a multi-branch association that includes two YMCA facilities in New Hanover County and a residential camp in Pender County. He has led efforts to raise funds for the Y, including millions for the redevelopment of the Nir Family YMCA, which opened last year after undergoing years of reconstruction from a fire in 2015. In opening the Nir Family YMCA and Midtown YMCA over the past three years, membership enrollment has increased by 40% to more than 11,000. The YMCA has also taken on managing city pools. The Y raises more than $500,000 annually to support children, families and programs that benefit the community. Jones’ current projects include working with community leaders to develop a larger YMCA presence throughout Southeastern North Carolina, including in Columbus County, and expanding the impact of its programs and services throughout the region.

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GWEN WHITLEY PRESIDENT AND CEO, LOWER CAPE FEAR HOSPICE ith decades of experience in

industry, Gwen Whitely Wthe leads 380 employees at

Lower Cape Fear Hospice. Among her many responsibilities as CEO, she shapes the agency’s vision, mission, values and strategies, as well as polices.

WHY SHE'S AN INFLUENCER:

Whitley has dedicated 30 years of her career to improving access to health care and services to area residents, primarily in their homes. Her leadership led to the establishment of outpatient palliative care clinics in the region. She also spearheaded Lower Cape Fear Hospice’s dementia program for New Hanover County residents. The organization is also extending services out to other counties. Lower Cape Fear Hospice has been awarded a grant to address the shortage of registered nurses in home health and hospice agencies, and is partnering with Cape Fear Community College’s RN program to pilot the project. Whitley recently announced an organization name change to Lower Cape Fear LifeCare in 2020, which reflects the agency’s growth in services beyond end-of-life care.

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CONTINUED FROM p41 Battleship North Carolina, NHRMC, among many others. Projects the company has worked on include website development for WIMCO Construction and the new video wall at NHRMC Surgery Center. Over the past 34 years, Morvil has grown the business from a one-man endeavor to its current 15 employees. Designed: UNCW’s mace, which is carried by the chief faculty marshal at commencement

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

had Paul previously

a partner at Arnolt Cwas Partners LLC, a private

equity firm headquartered in Indianapolis. He is a secondgeneration legacy owner of Commercial Realty Co., one of the region’s oldest commercial real estate brokerage and development companies (founded in 1972). He worked in the investment banking industry, principally specializing in the distressed securities area, and worked for Salomon Brothers, JP Morgan Chase & Co. and Colony Capital.

the past 18 years. Bald Head Island Ltd. employees: 325

Paul leads the entity that is the principal developer and resort operator of Bald Head Island, an island resort that’s 12,500 acres and 3 miles off the southern coast of Southport in Brunswick County and contains some of the highestpriced real estate in North Carolina. He also currently serves as managing partner of Harbor Island Partners LLC, a private equity firm headquartered in Wilmington since 2000. Harbor Island has invested in more than 20 companies over

University, Chris AAuburn Reid went to work for

WHY HE'S AN INFLUENCER:

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CHRIS REID

South Kerr Avenue; the renovation of Atlantic Packaging; and the Friends School of Wilmington expansion. The company’s headquarters is at 1022 Ashes Drive in Renaissance Park across from Mayfaire in Wilmington. The firm built the office building and now occupies the second floor. Company employees: 65+

PRESIDENT AND COO, THOMAS CONSTRUCTION GROUP

fter graduating from

Miller Building Corp. He then went to work for several major contractors before returning to Wilmington to start Thomas Construction Group in 2005.

WHY HE'S AN INFLUENCER:

Reid leads a company responsible for a number of notable projects in the state and throughout the region. In Wilmington, the firm’s recent work includes Uncommon Lofts, a student housing development on

YOUSRY SAYED PRESIDENT AND CEO, QUALITY CHEMICAL LABORATORIES

ousry Sayed is a former

and General Yprofessor College director at

UNCW. He has headed up Quality Chemicals since 1998.

WHY HE'S AN INFLUENCER: Quality Chemicals was

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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 founded with just one client – Merck – but is a growing enterprise that now serves about 100 clients, from the top 10 to 15 pharma companies in the world to virtual firms. Sayed currently is working on building a 90,000- to 100,000-square-foot laboratory for the company as well as establishing a new company in Wilmington called Pyramid Pharmaceuticals, for new products, new drug delivery technologies and discovery of new cancer drugs. He and his wife made a $5 million corporate donation to UNCW to support the development of new pharmaceutical sciences and chemistry programs. The UNC Board of Governors appointed him to the UNCW Board of Trustees for a term through 2023. Company employees: 240

.

spending from productions since 2000. This year, Wilmington has experienced the most projects since 2014. The stage complex is the nucleus for production activity in the region. Vassar oversees 32 employees at the 50-acre, 10-stage facility – one of the largest full-service production operations in the East. Vassar will continue to make an impact on the industry at the state level as a member of the new Governor’s Advisory Council on Film, Television and Digital Streaming. He is also vice-chairman of the Wilmington Regional Film Commission board. Year studios established: 1984

SHELBOURN STEVENS PRESIDENT, NOVANT HEALTH BRUNSWICK MEDICAL CENTER ext year Shelbourn Stevens will mark 30 years with the

health system. He started his career NWinston-Salem-based with Novant as a respiratory therapist. Stevens became

ED WOLVERTON

WHY HE’S AN INFLUENCER: With 820 employees Novant Health

PRESIDENT AND CEO, WILMINGTON DOWNTOWN INC.

president of Novant Health Brunswick Medical Center.

Brunswick Medical Center is one of the largest employers in Brunswick County. Even before he took on the president role, Stevens was instrumental in the building of the current hospital and its move from the aging Brunswick Community Hospital in 2011. Outside hospital walls, Stevens also grew Novant Health’s coastal-area medical group from two clinics in 2006 to 27 today. Beyond county lines, the hospital this year partnered with NHRMC to add AirLink transport services on the campus of the Brunswick hospital. Stevens also helped form the Novant Health Foundation Brunswick Medical Center to serve the unmet health care needs in the community. Stevens worked with the foundation to bring mobile mammography services to Brunswick County. He served on Novant Health’s Winston Salem market diversity action council until 2006 and helped form Novant Health Brunswick Medical Center’s diversity action council in 2007.

JASON SWINNY WILMINGTON SITE LEADER, GE AVIATION

ason Swinny has worked

GE Aviation for Jwith 20 years, beginning his

career out of college with GE in Kentucky. He has served in his current role for five years.

WHY HE'S AN INFLUENCER:

Swinny has overseen local hiring efforts at GE Aviation in Wilmington, with more than 200 new employees over the past five years. GE Aviation has also made significant investments at the Wilmington site during that time with more than $150 million invested in new equipment and expansion. Swinny sits on the board of directors for the Wilmington Chamber of Commerce and the board of advisors for Communities In Schools of North Carolina, Jobs for North Carolina’s Graduates program. Swinny oversees about 700 employees at the local GE Aviation site. Career with GE: 20 years

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finance. He has been a senior manager with the studio’s New York-based parent company EUE/Screen Gems Ltd. for more than 20 years.

WHY HE'S AN INFLUENCER:

BILL VASSAR EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT, EUE/ SCREEN GEMS STUDIOS

ill Vassar oversees all

of the Wilmington Baspects operation, including

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Vassar has played a vital role in helping recruit film and television projects to the region, including one of the state’s largest productions, Marvel’s Iron Man 3, which shot in 2012. The projects have had significant economic impact on the Wilmington area, which has seen $1.6 billion in direct

d Wolverton came to

Wilmington in 2013 from EGreensboro, where

he served as director of the downtown program there and before then in Wichita, Kansas; Charlotte; and Savannah. He served two terms on the International Downtown Association board and is a past chair of the N.C. Downtown Development Association.

WHY HE'S AN INFLUENCER:

Wolverton heads up Wilmington Downtown Inc., where he has played a role in helping attract more than $610 million in new commercial, residential and hospitality investments to the district since he started. Under the direction of a 38-member board, Wolverton works with local leaders to promote the economic growth development of downtown. In 2016, he helped usher in a municipal service district for downtown – an idea that had some pushback but was ultimately approved by the Wilmington City Council. Employees: 2 full time and 2 part time


It’s always a pleasure to recognize the achievement of our clients.

Congratulations to all those recognized in the WilmingtonBiz 100! Your achievements inspire us all. rsmus.com

RSM US LLP is the U.S. member firm of RSM International, a global network of independent audit, tax and consulting firms. Visit rsmus.com/aboutus for more information regarding RSM US LLP and RSM International.

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W I L M I N GTO N B I Z 1 0 0 I N N O VATO R S

THE INNOVATORS – THE DISRUPTORS SHAKING THINGS U P AND GETTING THE REGION TO SEE THINGS IN A DIFFERENT WAY

THE INNOVATORS

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ASH AZIZ OWNER, CIRCA RESTAURANT GROUP

ongtime Wilmington

Ash Aziz Lrestaurateur has run some of the most successful eateries in the city while also not being afraid to test out new concepts.

WHY HE’S AN INNOVATOR: Aziz’s was called “a truly iconic figure in the Wilmington restaurant scene” by Lindsey Hess of Wilmington-based commercial real estate firm Cape Fear Commercial, one of the brokers who helped him last year to sell three of his prominent restaurants, Boca Bay, Brasserie du Soleil and Osteria Cicchetti, to Raleigh-based Urban Food Group. Circa Restaurant Group retains ownership of Circa 1922 and Il Forno Pizzeria. Aziz is cooking up a new concept for River Place, a major mixed-use project under construction in downtown Wilmington. “This new venture will continue the Circa Group’s trademark pairing of great food and detailed service,” he said in a Greater Wilmington Business Journal story in 2017. “We intend to create and maintain a restaurant that is comprehensive and exceptional in its attention to every detail. The guest experience will be honest, real and fresh.” Newest spot: The anticipated restaurant size of Aziz’s River Place concept is 5,000 square feet.

DAN BRAWLEY CHIEF INSTIGATING OFFICER, CUCALORUS FILM FOUNDATION

Wilmington native, Dan Brawley graduated from Duke University with a

A

bachelor’s degree in art and art history. After graduation, Brawley was a preparator at Cameron Art Museum. Brawley got his start at Cucalorus as a volunteer and eventually became its executive director in 1999. For the third year, Brawley has been elected president of the Film Festival Alliance. In 2003, he founded and has managed Jengo’s Playhouse, a movie and performance theater with art studios and rooms for resident artists.

WHY HE’S AN INNOVATOR:

Brawley has helped grow the

Cucalorus Film Foundation to four film festivals, a residency program and community education initiatives. Through Cucalorus, Brawley has brought together artists and thinkers to the region and has promoted the Wilmington area as a film production location and highlighted the city’s legacy in the film industry. Brawley has also helped expand Cucalorus Connect, a two-day conference on technology and innovation. During his time at Cucalorus, the foundation has contributed more than $40,000 in grants to emerging filmmakers.

Average numbers of movies he watches in a year: 500

CHRIS COX PRESIDENT, APITURE

hris Cox, who received

MBA from Duke CanUniversity, has more

than 20 years of experience in banking, mobile commerce, product innovation and technology strategy. He worked at Atlanta-based First Data as head of digital banking and joined Apiture when it opened its Wilmington headquarters in 2017.

WHY HE’S AN INNOVATOR:

RICHARD JOHNSON

ENTREPRENEUR, TURTLE COVE ENTERPRISES s the former founder and CEO of HotJobs.com, a job

site, Johnson led a risky marketing campaign for Asearch the company that paid off and led to the growth and

eventual sale to Yahoo for $400 million. Since then, Johnson, now a Wilmington resident has started organizations in the region, part of Turtle Cove Enterprises, with a focus on rural business revitalization and the environment.

As the president of Apiture, Cox leads a team of banking experts and technologists who are seeking to modernize how financial institutions interact with their customers through digital channels. Cox’s background in financial services and technology has guided his leadership in establishing and growing the Live Oak and First Data (now Fiserv) venture as a standalone business. Through his position, Cox is part of the growing fintech scene in Wilmington. Since opening in 2017, Apiture has created about 160 technology jobs in the region and has worked with UNCW and CFCC to recruit talent.

WHY HE’S AN INNOVATOR: As a semi-retired entrepreneur,

Johnson is leading efforts to benefit communities and promote businesses in rural areas. Johnson started Masonboro.org, a nonprofit that focuses on the preservation and education of Masonboro Island. As part of his social entrepreneurship efforts, Johnson founded Burgaw Now, a campaign that seeks to revitalize Burgaw and bring businesses back in the area. To incentivize businesses, Johnson purchased buildings to be renovated and leased to business owners. So far, Johnson has been working with Panacea Brewing Co., which will open a brewery and restaurant, and Fat Daddy’s Pizza, both slated to open in 2020. Burgaw Now also has a website with a blog and has partnered with the N.C. Blueberry Festival to host events that highlight the town. Johnson also owns Penderlea Farms in Burgaw, a live oak tree farm focused on preserving native live oaks. Also oversees: Boat manufacturing facility Swanspoint

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DIANE DURANCE DIRECTOR, UNCW CENTER FOR INNOVATION AND ENTREPRENEURSHIP

hrough launching and

three companies, Tgrowing Diane Durance gained entrepreneurship experience which currently guides her

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TOM CLIFFORD OWNER AND FOUNDER, WITHOUT LIMITS n and off the track, Tom

has made strides. He OClifford started as a personal trainer in a small, local gym. He started Without Limits in 2007 when several local athletes approached him about helping them improve their running. Clifford, a former competitive runner, welcomed the idea of getting back into the competitive nature of the sport he missed.

WHY HE’S AN INNOVATOR: Clifford has helped Port City runners push themselves to new goals. He worked with Olympic Trials qualifier Christa Iammarino when she won her first-ever marathon (the Quintiles Wrightsville Beach Marathon) in 2010 and is now helping Brittany Perkins for the 2020 Marathon Olympic Team Trials in Atlanta. But it’s not just the coaching of 75 athletes where Clifford is making his mark. He also has raised the bar for road races in the area, drawing local and competitive runners from other cities who infuse visitor money into the local economy. He started the Wrightsville Beach Marathon, which is now called the NHRMC Wilmington Marathon, in 2010, that has become the largest participatory running event in Southeastern North Carolina. Without Limits, partnering with Go Time Race Management, also recently took over the popular Battleship Half Marathon that started in 1998. This year, the event sold out at 2,000 runners. In all, Clifford is now management and race director of six events and two major events. Without Limits also partnered with Dr. Scott Tunis and dietitian Diana Davis to create the Without Limits Runners Daily Vitamin. One of his personal records: A marathon time of 2 hours, 29 minutes (and 21 seconds)

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CONTINUED FROM p47 role at the CIE. After building those companies, Durance became president of MiQuest, a Michigan organization that connects ventures with funding. She joined the CIE as its director in 2016 where she works to connect businesses to resources and lead them through an accelerator program.

WHY SHE’S AN INNOVATOR:

As the director of the CIE, Durance connects more than 100 early-stage student, faculty and community innovative ventures with resources to launch and grow their business. Durance has fostered connections in the startup ecosystem throughout Southeast North Carolina. Durance is an advocate of renewable energy and sustainable fisheries, and through the CIE, she hosted Fish 2.0, an organization that connects seafood ventures with investors. As a result, two Wilmington-based companies were invited to present at the Fish 2.0 global summit in November. Under her leadership, the CIE has also grown its Youth Entrepreneurship Program, and it now hosts the Chancellor's High School Innovation Competition and monthly meetup. She also leads an effort to fuel support in arts and innovation-based ventures.
 Led the aquaculture startup: Harvest Food & Fisheries


Girard was also president of HGTV.

WHY SHE’S AN INNOVATOR:

Setting aside the influence Girard had in television, she appears this year as an innovator for the work she did after moving to the area. She and Georgia Miller took inspiration from the Young Women’s Leadership Network singlegender schools in New York aimed at preparing at-risk girls to attend college. It took convincing the state legislature to pass a measure, but GLOW, the state’s first allgirls charter school opened in 2016, and this year the school moved into its a campus on land donated by the Cameron family. With her Food Network connections, Girard has brought several celebrity chefs to Wilmington for fundraisers for the school in recent years. Award bling: When she retired in 2008, Girard received a Lifetime Achievement Emmy

DUANE HIXON CEO AND CO-FOUNDER, N2 PUBLISHING

uane Hixon has lead

N2 DWilmington-based Publishing as CEO for 15

years. He started the company in 2004 from his home, launching the company with president and co-founder Earl Seals.

WHY HE’S AN INNOVATOR: As the

JUDY GIRARD FOUNDER, GIRLS LEADERSHIP ACADEMY OF WILMINGTON (GLOW)

efore retiring in the area

had a Binlong2008,careerJudyasGirard a television

executive that shaped popular culture – several times. She rebranding the Lifetime network and developed the Lifetime Original Movie franchise. She served as president of the Food Network 1998-2004 and helped usher in the celebrity chef show.

head of N2 Publishing, Hixon’s leadership helped propel the company’s growth and success as a publisher of print-only custom magazines in a digital era. The firm has grown from one monthly publication in 2004 to more than 1,000 publications across the U.S. In 2016, Hixon lead the company’s transition to a franchise model. This year, the firm was ranked the fifth fastestgrowing franchise in the U.S. by Entrepreneur magazine. The firm has also been named to the Inc. 5000 list of fastest-growing privately held companies for eight consecutive

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W I L M I N GTO N B I Z 1 0 0 I N N O VATO R S years. The company has been recognized as a “great place to work” by several publications. Hixon oversees more than 1,200 full-time and 800 parttime workers with 200 local employees. Hixon is readying the firm for its next phase to diversify N2’s services but said he wouldn’t be ready to share details until early next year. Outside the company, Hixon and his wife, Rebecca, spearheaded N2GIVES, which has donated $8 million to nonprofits that combat human trafficking. Number of clients: 30,000+

JEFF JAMES CEO, WILMINGTON HEALTH

eff James has served as

of Wilmington Jhead Health since 2008. He was previously chief financial officer

and chief operating officer for Christie Clinic in Illinois.

WHY HE’S AN INNOVATOR: In his role, James is responsible for the overall strategy of Wilmington Health, a multispecialty group practice with 200 providers covering 37 specialties in 22 locations. During his time the group has tripled in size. Beyond his management position, James also has kept an eye on the changing health care landscape. Before valuebased care became the norm – and an emphasis of federal reimbursements – James was talking about costs of care and population health data. He has helped developed several accountable care organizations, including Wilmington Health’s, which in 2013 ranked No. 1 nationally. In 2017, he was a founding member of Innovo Research LLC, which promotes clinical research as a care option and is designed to assist ACOs in the strategic implementation of clinical research.

RYAN LEGG CEO, MEGACORP LOGISTICS

yan Legg and his

Denise, founded Rwife, MegaCorp Logistics in

2009. The logistics company specializes in full and less-than truckload shipments throughout the United States, Mexico and Canada. As CEO, he runs the company made up of about 350 employees.

It was also ranked No. 1 on Business North Carolina magazine’s 2019 North Carolina Mid-Market Fast 40 list, which ranked firms based on gains in workforce and revenue for two consecutive years. According to the report, the firm had more than 500,000 loads and earned more than $1 billion in sales since 2009. The firm moved into its new headquarters off Ashes Drive earlier this year. HQ buildings purchase: $7.4 million

WHY HE’S AN INNOVATOR:

Nonmedical background: James is a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps.

MegaCorp Logistics has seen significant growth over the past decade. The company has expanded its reach across North America and has consistently been named among firms on the Inc. 5000 list of America’s fastest-growing private companies. It made Inc. magazine’s annual list for the fourth time this year, reporting $294.1 million in revenue in 2018.

JENNIFER MCCALL CO-FOUNDER AND CEO, SEATOX RESEARCH INC.

ennifer McCall, who

a doctorate Jreceived degree in biology with a

concentration on immunology

If you are considering buying or selling a home, we would love to hear from you! We would like to put our experience, knowledge and work ethic to use in helping you with all your real estate needs.

Contact us today:

910.509.1924 KeithBeatty.com

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5,800 +

$1.4 billion

top ranked

Eastern NC’s first Real Estate Team established in 1998

Over 5,800+ properties successfully sold for buyers and sellers

Closed sales volume of over $1.4 billion dollars

Consistently ranked by Real Trends & Wall Street Journal as one of the top real estate teams in the US

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W I L M I N GTO N B I Z 1 0 0 I N N O VATO R S from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, cofounded SeaTox Research Inc. After earning her Ph.D., McCall enrolled in UNCW’s postdoctoral program in business of biotechnology while also getting an MBA at the Cameron School of Business.

WHY SHE’S AN INNOVATOR:

In 2013, McCall and her husband founded SeaTox, a biotechnology research and development company that McCall said develops a faster and easier process to test shellfish for marine toxins. The company has earned about $2 million in federal and state grants to develop scientific products for public use, and in 2017, McCall was awarded a $1.47 million grant from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences to develop userfriendly tests for marine toxins that contaminate commercial seafood. SeaTox, located in UNCW’s CREST Research Park, has allowed other biotech startups to use its laboratory and resources to support the business community. As an assistant professor in clinical research at UNCW, McCall has also been working on efforts to support workforce development in biopharmaceutical and clinical research industries. Involvement: Innovate SENC

than 70 in 2019. McWhorter has strategically grown Mojotone locally, and in 2018 relocated operations to a newly upfitted building in the Pender Progress Industrial Park. The company has made a name for itself as an amplifier cabinet builder and amplifier parts supplier in the music industry. It has landed major customers including Rush, Lenny Kravitz and ZZ Top. The firm has also become an original equipment manufacturer for Gibson Brands Inc. and LERXST Amplification and an OEM supplier for Fender Musical Instruments Corp. Mojotone is working on a program with the Pender County school system to provide skilled trade training to help build local careers. McWhorter also serves on the Wilmington Business Development board. Years in Burgaw: 14

FRED MEYERS FOUNDER AND PRESIDENT, QUEENSBORO.COM / THE QUEENSBORO SHIRT CO.

red Meyers started the

CEO, MOJOTONE

ichael McWhorter is

for the firm’s Mresponsible short-term and long-term

strategic planning and manages all operations and resources at its Burgaw facility, which began operations in 2005. Mojotone was originally founded in 2000 in Winston-Salem.

WHY HE’S AN INNOVATOR: Over the past 14 years, Mojotone’s workforce has grown from 12 employees starting to more

CO-FOUNDER AND CHIEF DATA SCIENTIST, LAPETUS arl Ricanek, a professor of computer science at

co-founded Lapetus Solutions Inc. in 2015. KUNCW, He graduated from N.C. A&T State University with

in the early Fcompany 1980s in New York City.

MICHAEL MCWHORTER

KARL RICANEK

Queensboro was one of the first companies to offer custom logo apparel to the business community. In the 1990s, Meyers moved the business to Wilmington and launched the firm’s first website. Meyers is still actively managing the business, which has 150 employees.

WHY HE’S AN INNOVATOR: For

nearly 40 years, Meyers has consistently grown the firm and successfully navigated the business through the dawn of the internet and mobile devices. He has led the company’s innovations in its manufacturing, software development, customer experience and web and social media direct-to-consumer marketing.

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a doctorate in electrical engineering. Ricanek is also the director of the UNCW Institute for Interdisciplinary Identity Sciences (I3S). As the director of I3S, Ricanek has gardened more than $18 million in research grants and contract submissions. He is also the co-director of the Center for Advanced Studies in Identity Science at N.C. A&T and began his training in artificial intelligence and machine learning while working with the U.S. Department of Defense.

WHY HE’S AN INNOVATOR: Through his startup, Ricanek has

been leading efforts in the fields of artificial intelligence, machine learning, facial analytics and health, aging and data science, among other areas. Lapetus and its co-founder, S. Jay Olshansky, a professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago, have created tools and platforms that help predict aging, health and life expectancy. This information can be used by individuals, insurance, cosmetic and marketing companies, among others. Since 2015, the company has raised more than $4.6 million in funding, according to filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, which Ricanek said was due to its innovative use of technology. The products developed by Lapetus were derived from Ricanek’s research in biometrics and facial recognition. Through a selfie and a questionnaire, Lapetus is able to predict life events that can reduce life insurance carriers’ underwriting costs and time. Lapetus currently has 15 employees, according to its website and Ricanek holds several patents on facial analytics products. He is also is a member of international scientific working groups for biometrics, machine learning and face recognition and he shares his insights in those fields to organizations and governments. Previous work: Naval Undersea Warfare Center

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Photo c/o Brunswick BID

Queensboro also renovated for its operations a 100,000-square-foot, 1950s industrial building on 13th Street. Meyers’ current company projects include Uberizing its customer experience and simplifying the firm’s supply chain to prepare it for scalable national and international growth. Year company founded: 1982

ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENTS Economic developers have a clear impact on the Wilmington region connecting the area to potential job creators and new companies. While not in the selection pool for the WilmingtonBiz 100, their efforts, however, bear significance and are included in this roundup. New Jersey-based Pacon Manufacturing plans to relocate some operations to Navassa to create 299 jobs and make a capital investment of $37.6 million, Gov. Roy Cooper announced in April during a visit to the Brunswick County site. North Carolina’s Southeast, an agency covering 18 counties, and Brunswick Business and Industry Development (Brunswick BID), helped to recruit the business. Brunswick BID executive director Bill Early said Pacon was prepping for operations sometime in 2020. The company plans to move its manufacturing and distribution from New Jersey to Navassa. Pacon develops and manufactures wipes, pads, towels and liquids for the consumer, industrial and medical industries. Steve Yost, president of North Carolina’s

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Southeast, said his agency is now working to conduct a regional industry and business sector analysis of its region supported by a $148,000 federal grant. Meanwhile, Brunswick BID and Columbus County economic development officials are working on a project to develop water and sewer infrastructure at two megasites at the county line. Brunswick BID has been developing its first strategic plan this year. Wilmington Business Development (WBD), the agency that serves New Hanover and Pender counties, said it is recruiting developers to construct buildings of 100,000 square feet or more to meet market demand. Two companies are looking to invest in land at Pender Commerce Park. One could create 50 jobs. WBD will create a master plan for the New Hanover County-owned, 120-acre Blue Clay Road industrial site. It also helped support South-Tek Systems, which announced plans this fall to relocate from the North Kerr area to U.S. 421 and grow to 75 employees in a year. – CHRISTINA HALEY O’NEAL

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DAVE NATHANS OWNER, URBAN BUILDING CORP.

Wilmington resident

1987, David Nathans Asince played a role over the

years in revitalizing downtown Wilmington and continues those efforts today.

WHY HE’S AN INFLUENCER:

When a fundraising effort and other attempts didn’t work to save St. Andrews Presbyterian Church from imminent destruction, the more than 130-year-old building at North Fourth and Campbell streets in downtown Wilmington faced an uncertain future. Nathans bought it from the city of Wilmington in 2008, restored the structure and opened the Brooklyn Arts Center at St. Andrews, an events venue. Nathans, who co-founded Plantation Inc. with David Spetrino before Spetrino bought the company around 2004, still owns the property. During the decade he worked with Spetrino, Nathans and Spetrino redeveloped an old junkyard that took up an entire city block, bordered by Third, Hanover, Fourth and Brunswick streets, into a five-story office building and other structures. Nathans is working on the Wilmington Rail Trail and converting the old Independent Ice Co. building into condominiums/apartments. BAC fact: On March 25, 2011, the Brooklyn Arts Center was granted its certificate of occupancy.

PETE PETERSON CEO, MANUFACTURING METHODS

n his role at Manufacturing

Pete Peterson IMethods, oversees the company,

founded in December 2006. Peterson also leads two other companies housed within Manufacturing Methods’ Leland operation, Lucid Innovative Technologies and K9000 Dog Wash USA LLC.

WHY HE’S AN INNOVATOR:

At Manufacturing Methods, Peterson has overseen the application of new precision and lean manufacturing techniques, invested in new machinery and grown its workforce at the Leland-based facility. The company provides a range of services, including custom machining, metal fabrication and powder coating. On top of the firm’s work as a contract manufacturer, Peterson helped launch in 2017, Lucid Innovative Technologies, a medical, dental and surgical device manufacturer. And last year, Peterson formed K9000 Dog Wash USA in partnership with Australia-based Tru Blu K9000 Dog Wash, to manufacture, sell and distribute the dog wash machines brand. Company employees: 40

MICHAEL SATRAZEMIS CEO AND PRESIDENT, FILMWERKS

ichael Satrazemis founded

a Rocky MFilmwerks, Point company that

provides production services for broadcasts and events, in 1999. He started in the North Carolina industry by furnishing power and lighting for live


W I L M I N GTO N B I Z 1 0 0 I N N O VATO R S sports broadcasts of NASCAR races. When Filmwerks started, it provided mobile stages and studios for the TV industry, including Dawson’s Creek and One Tree Hill. Since then, the company has been meeting the demand for sports, events, concerts and political broadcasts.

WHY HE’S AN INNOVATOR:

Satrazemis leads a company that has grown from 58 employees in 2015 to 150 employees now. The company is in charge of providing power and set design for some of the most notable broadcasts, including the Super Bowl, World Series, U.S. Open, PGA events, political conventions, debates, primaries and presidential inaugurations. Through a series of acquisitions, including that of Hale Electrical in 2019, Satrazemis has added to the company’s geographic reach, inventory and talent. This year, the company is working on designing the 2020 Super Bowl in Miami and will be involved in broadcast elements of the 2020 presidential election events. Career start: California-based Hollywood Rental

Simmons was responsible for the Optima KV project, the first project to connect agricultural organic wastes to the natural gas pipeline. Optima KV pulled wastes from multiple farms to send to a gas upgrading site. The Optima TH project in Tar Heel is expected to do a similar process, but instead of from the farm, the wastes from the world’s largest pork processing facility will undergo anaerobic digestion and gas upgrading with plans for it to become the second project in the state to connect to the natural gas pipeline. Source expert: Simmons prepares independent engineering reviews for lenders and financiers who are unfamiliar with bioenergy projects.

A LIFE PLAN COMMUNITY

Anything but Retiring AT PLANTATION VILLAGE, residents enjoy beautifully appointed homes and state-of-the-art wellness center, gourmet cuisine and a rich, active lifestyle on 56 acres in Porters Neck. In 1988, we pioneered the first Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC) concept in southeast-ern NC and have 28 years of success and financial stability. As the region’s only non-profit CCRC, we reinvest all “profits” back into the community to ensure it remains the premier choice for active retirees.

BURROWS SMITH MANAGING PARTNER, RIVER BLUFFS

ongtime local developer

Smith came out LBurrows of retirement in 2007 to

GUS SIMMONS DIRECTOR OF BIOENERGY, CAVANAUGH & ASSOCIATES

us Simmons, who earned a bachelor’s degree from N.C. State University in biological and agricultural engineering, joined Cavanaugh in 2001 as agricultural services director, serving as project manager to help the state evaluate innovative approaches for managing agricultural wastes.

G

WHY HE’S AN INNOVATOR:

Simmons worked with Duke University evaluating different technologies to optimize wasteto-energy projects, which led to the REPS requirements for some of the state’s energy to come from waste resources.

create with partners the unique community of River Bluffs, a riverside neighborhood of custom homes with amenities and commercial space, in Castle Hayne. He and his family also created Dockside Restaurant in 1983 and ran it until 2006, when they sold it to the Yow family.

WHY HE’S AN INNOVATOR: The

$4 million sewer connection to River Bluffs that Smith’s company paid for is expected to have a community-wide impact for Castle Hayne, one of New Hanover County’s final frontiers for development. Additionally, River Bluffs is one of the largest low-impact developments in the area and the state, Smith said, with no direct discharges of stormwater into the Northeast Cape Fear River barring a hurricane-type rain event. “Our main focus is showing how to develop without destroying all of nature,” he said. “We save trees, which is one of

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OUR FIRST-CLASS AMENITIES INCLUDE: Community auditorium

A choice of apartments, villas and cottage homes

Leisure and concierge services

State-of-the-art Wellness Center with saltwater pool

Access to neighboring Champions Assisted Living and Davis Health Care when and if the need occurs

24-hour security staff On-site clinic staffed 24/7 Transportation to shopping, grocery stores and doctors’ appointments

Lifetime Residency Guarantee – residents will never be asked to leave should they be unable to meet their financial obligations.

It is Never Too Early to Begin Planning for Retireme nt PLEASE CALL US AT 910.772.3188 TO SCHEDULE A TOUR P

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C O M

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W I L M I N GTO N B I Z 1 0 0 I N N O VATO R S our biggest draws with buyers.” He consults for others who want to develop their land, steering them in an environmentally friendly direction. First development: Kerr Ave Office Park

LESLIE SMITH OWNER, L S SMITH INC. AND MODERN URBAN DEVELOPMENT

eslie Smith has been in

contracting in the Lgeneral multifamily and general contracting field for 25 years.

WHY HE’S AN INNOVATOR:

Smith envisioned creating a unique community in Wilmington when he started buying property near his Queen Street home around 2014. These days, the area he’s created, which centers around Queen Street between 15th and 16th streets, is known as The Cargo District. The district includes co-working space, numerous businesses and apartments made from shipping containers, which is how its name was derived. To Smith, The Cargo District is a result of forging partnerships with several businesses to offer affordable space, not only for startups but also for the long-term growth of those businesses. The district offers creative workspaces and experiences, Smith said. At work: Some of the businesses in district are encore magazine, Half United and Coworx.

Nathans – originally Plantation Fine Homes, then Plantation Building Corp. and now PBC Design+Build with his current partner Kyle Henry.

WHY HE’S AN INNOVATOR:

Spetrino has helped revitalize downtown Wilmington with his company’s projects, including condominiums, townhomes and single-family houses. These days, his company works with a diverse set of clients, projects and locations, from high-end custom homes to creating market rate apartments through redevelopment of downtown properties. His company also builds in some of the region’s most compelling neighborhoods, including Landfall, Wrightsville Beach and Autumn Hall. Spetrino and his firm keep the surrounding areas in mind when it comes to their projects. “We have an obligation to build spaces and places that affect more than our clients or ourselves; we need to make sure our neighbors benefit as well,” he said. “The trust and confidence that the community places upon us is not something we take lightly.” Spetrino is also active in the region’s business community via numerous roles, such as serving as last year’s president of the WilmingtonCape Fear Home Builders Association. Company employees: 24

DAVE SWEYER ave Sweyer started Vantaca,

community association Damanagement software

FOUNDER, PBC DESIGN+BUILD

ustom homebuilder Dave Spetrino founded his company in 1997 with Dave

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company, in 2014. Sweyer is also owner of Sweyer Property Management, a residential management agency and CAMS, a community association management company.

WHY HE’S AN INNOVATOR:

When Sweyer was not able to find software for his company CAMS, he partnered with two B

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JENNIFER TURNAGE CO-FOUNDER AND CEO, MYBEEHYVE ennifer Turnage was

direct sales through Jdoing network marketing

GEORGE TAYLOR CHAIRMAN, TRU COLORS, UNTAPPD AND NATIONAL SPEED

eorge Taylor is chairman

Wilmington-based Gofcompanies National Speed and Untappd. He is also the founder, chairman and CEO of TRU Colors, a local for-profit company that employs gang members as a way to combat violence.

WHY HE’S AN INNOVATOR:

CEO, VANTACA

DAVE SPETRINO

developers to create Vantaca. Through Vantaca, Sweyer found a solution for the HOA industry that provides customized workflows, processes banking transactions and communicates via email, text or alert. It also has a business intelligence tool that offers analysis to help HOA management companies understand customer and employee performance. The company has steadily grown and recently moved to an 8,500-square-foot space at 7040 Wrightsville Ave. As the CEO and owner of Vantaca, Sweyer is leading a team that provides an innovative solution using technology to meet the industry trends of residential management companies Membership: Corning Credit Union Board of Directors

Taylor has been launching companies for more than 30 years. His background as a businessman and entrepreneur has helped form three local companies and create jobs. As chairman, he plays a vital role in Untappd, which is led by his son Kurt. The growing tech company employs more than 100 people and transformed a multistory downtown property on Front Street for its headquarters. He has also helped lead National Speed, a Wilmingtonbased car performance company open a location in Wilmington and Richmond,

businesses and found the digital tools she needed lacking. So she and business partner Megan Sumrell launched myBeeHyve, a contact management system, which launched in 2017.

WHY SHE’S AN INNOVATOR:

While growing the startup, Turnage also has taken on a role to help other female entrepreneurs in funding their early-stage projects. She is a co-founder and screening committee chair of xElle Ventures, an angel fund of women investing in womenled businesses based in North Carolina. xElle was started by Triangle-based entrepreneur and investor Robbie Hardy. As part of the core group of 15 founders, Turnage has been busy the past several months helping add members to the fund, including some in Wilmington. Though the plan is to make investments statewide, because Turnage is based in Wilmington she plans to focus on the local area. Accredited investors pay an annual membership fee of $500 and each member decides whether to participate in an investment with a minimum of $2,000 per investment.


W I L M I N GTO N B I Z 1 0 0 I N N O VATO R S Virginia. The business opened the Virginia shop last year with plans in the future to grow into other markets. George Taylor’s most recent project has been years in the making, having first announced TRU Colors in 2017. The company plans to renovate the former Century Mills building off Greenfield Street, to build offices, a brewery and restaurant, and support its social mission. Century Mills property purchase: $950,000

NEIL UNDERWOOD PARTNER, CANAPI

eil Underwood serves as

of fintech venture Npartner fund Canapi and president

of Live Oak Bancshares, the holding company of Live Oak Bank. Before coming to Live Oak, he was general manager of S1 Corp., where he was responsible for the S1 Enterprise Retail division.

such as Finxact, Payrailz, DefenseStorm and Greenlight. nth Degree: He holds a degree industrial engineering from Georgia Tech.

WHY HE’S AN INNOVATOR:

Underwood’s list of accomplishments is a long one in the fintech arena in Wilmington, providing a major boost to the region’s economic development and fintech prominence. He co-founded numerous companies, including Live Oak Bank, nCino and Apiture. He’s also co-founder of and partner in Canapi, a fintech venture fund planned to be more than $500 million. Underwood remains active in the companies he’s helped start, with the exception of nCino, having retired from nCino’s board about six years ago. Through Live Oak’s venture arm, Underwood has incubated and helped raise capital for companies focused on digital bank transformation

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

AMY WRIGHT PRESIDENT, BITTY & BEAU'S COFFEE

nspired by her two

Bitty and Beau, Ichildren, Wright opened Bitty

& Beau’s Coffee in 2016 to advocate for the employment of people with intellectual and development disabilities (IDD). 


WHY SHE’S AN INNOVATOR:

Wright found a way to address the large unemployment percentage rate among people with IDD by opening coffee shops that hire them and create an inclusive environment in the community.

The business started out at a 500-square-foot building on Wrightsville Avenue with 19 employees and has grown to 100 employees in four locations. That includes a 5,000-squarefoot location in Wilmington as well as locations in Charleston and Savannah and a future coffee shop in Annapolis, Maryland. Wright describes Bitty & Beau’s Coffee as a “human rights movement disguised as a coffee shop.” Wright was recognized at CNN’s Hero of the Year in 2017, received the William C. Friday Award in 2019 and was UNCW’s Distinguished Citizen of the Year in 2018, among other awards, which include Bitty & Beau’s being named a Coastal Entrepreneur of the Year. The company has also launched the social media campaign #notbroken to spread the message that people with disabilities are not broken. Upcoming location: PPD headquarters coffee cart
 Official Coffee of: Rachael Ray Show

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

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W I L M I N GTO N B I Z 1 0 0 CO N N E C TO R S honda Bellamy has served

director of Rastheexecutive arts council since

ALISON BARINGER ENGLISH EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, N.C. AZALEA FESTIVAL

lison Baringer English

the N.C. Azalea Abecame Festival’s executive director in 2015, after the organization promoted her to the role. She first started working with the festival as its office manager and then coordinator.

WHY SHE’S A CONNECTOR:

The sheer size of the annual event requires English to be a connector – to its board, to her staff that includes seasonal employees, to sponsors to celebrity guests and to over 1,000 volunteers. She coordinates with over 80 community leaders to plan and execute the festival’s events, a slate of activities from parades to concerts to street fairs over five days in April. Overall, an estimated 300,000 people will go to something on the schedule. Their experience has a lot to do with what English and her team come up with each year. During English’s time as executive director, the festival – entering its 73rd year in 2020 – has grown in size and economic impact. She has an eye on marking the 75th anniversary on the horizon. National connection: Serves as secretary on the International Festivals & Events Association’s foundation board

it formed in 2012. Bellamy has more than 20 years of experience in broadcast news. She was previously the news director for Cumulus Media’s five-station radio cluster in Wilmington and hosted a daily talk show. She recently tapped back into those radio skills with the art- and culture-based show “Around Town with Rhonda Bellamy” on WHQR.

WHY SHE’S A CONNECTOR:

Through various projects and partnerships, Bellamy over the years has looked for ways to infuse art into Wilmingtonians’ daily lives. The council’s Fourth Friday Gallery Nights is a monthly crawl covering more than 20 galleries and art spaces in downtown Wilmington. The council curates a fine art gallery inside Wilmington International Airport’s terminal. It also curates the Pedestrian Art public sculpture program, installing 10-12 temporary sculptures each year. Right now, the group is serving as the lead agency for the Wilmington Rail Trail project, with plans to develop an abandoned railbed from Water Street to the Love Grove neighborhood. A pedestrian plaza with cultural and recreational amenities is in the works. Community honor: Was part of the inaugural class of Living Legend Award winners from the city’s Commission on AfricanAmerican History

MEBANE BOYD DIRECTOR, NHC RESILIENCY TASK FORCE

ebane Boyd has directed

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

New Hanover County Mthe Resiliency Task Force

since July 2018. The group works across systems – including schools, health care providers, the faith-based community and more – to create traumasensitive and resiliency focused

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organizations. WHY SHE’S A CONNECTOR: Since becoming head of the task force, Boyd has seen the effort grow to more than 110 organizations and nearly 600 individuals who are engaged in the community-wide campaign. “While we tend to focus on human service agencies and schools as the primary location to engage with individuals who are needing assistance in coping with trauma, the workplace is emerging as a prime place to reach those in need,” Boyd said. Leading by example: Boyd also connects with other communities across the state that are working on similar projects around childhood trauma.

JOHNNY GRIFFIN

DIRECTOR, WILMINGTON REGIONAL FILM COMMISSION ohnny Griffin has served

region’s film industry Jthe for more than three

ROB BURRUS DEAN, UNCW CAMERON SCHOOL OF BUSINESS

ob Burrus, who received

in economics Rhisfromdoctorate the University of

Virginia, started at UNCW as a professor of economics. He was named dean of the Cameron School of Business in 2015. Burrus has published 34 peer-reviewed articles. He also received the Chancellor’s Teaching Excellence Award in 2004. Burrus serves as the president of the Academy of Economics and Finance. His research areas of interest include drug policy and economics of hurricanes.

WHY HE’S A CONNECTOR: Being

the dean of the business school means that Burrus manages about 100 faculty and staff, as well as having responsibilities in budgeting, fundraising, hiring, creating innovative programs and managing enrollment and curriculum. During his time as dean, the school has helped connect students with local employers. It also connects professionals to executive education

decades. He became director of the Wilmington Regional Film Commission in 1999, Griffin is one of the first 10 film commissioners in the world to obtain the designation of Certified Film Commissioner by the Association of Film Commissioners International.

WHY HE’S A CONNECTOR: In

his 20 years as director of the nonprofit corporation, Griffin has assisted in recruiting over $1.6 billion in local film and TV spending. Since Wilmington picked up The Georgetown Project – a working titled film starring Russell Crowe – this fall, production spending by area projects is estimated to be about $150 million in 2019. Griffin, the film commission’s sole employee, is responsible for marketing the region, assisting productions with hiring efforts, working with state and local elected officials to maintain and enhance the film incentive program and scouting potential locations. His work in the industry will continue at the state level as he sits on the new Governor’s Advisory Council on Film, Television and Digital Streaming.

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W I L M I N GTO N B I Z 1 0 0 CO N N E C TO R S opportunities at the Swain Center and Small Business Technology and Development Center. Burrus and faculty have also helped with the development of new online programs. With the school’s recent $10 million gift from David Congdon, Burrus will work on establishing the David S. Congdon School of Supply Chain, Business Analytics and Information Systems. Edited: Academy of Economics and Finance Journal

business seminars to more than 1,500 small business owners in New Hanover and Pender counties. Fed accolade: In 2016, Coleman received the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Collaboration and Partnership award.

DANA COOK PRESIDENT AND OWNER, JULIA'S FLORIST

ith a background as an

Dana Cook Waccountant, wasn’t looking to own a

JERRY COLEMAN REGIONAL DIRECTOR CFCC SMALL BUSINESS CENTER

erry Coleman started as

Fear Community JCape College’s Small Business

Center director in 2016. He has decades of experience in business and consulting. He previously was an owner in his family’s consumer products manufacturing company in Wilmington.

WHY HE’S A CONNECTOR: In

his role at the center, Coleman is responsible for overseeing the center’s program services, quality, sponsoring and coordinating local initiatives that enhance program delivery of the CFCC’s Small Business Center. He helps provide counseling, training, guidance and resource information for a range of businesses. He helped with the 2017 establishment of The Coalition, a collaboration of more than a dozen nonprofit organizations that support small businesses in Southeastern North Carolina. The CFCC Small Business Center provided one-on-one business counseling to more than 230 prospective and existing business owners in the 2018-19 fiscal year. That resulted in 33 new business startups, creating more than 130 new local jobs. It also provided 90

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floral shop in Wilmington. But it was a random connection and conversation that led her to eventually buy Julia’s Florist, which has operated at 900 S. Kerr Ave. in Wilmington since 1996. Cook bought the business in 2008 and has expanded it since then. In 2016, she opened a design center nearby in the Crossroads center on Kerr Avenue, and she said recently that she’s planning another expansion.

WHY SHE’S A CONNECTOR:

While business has been strong, it’s Cook’s presence outside the store that lands her among this year’s connectors. Between her work with nonprofits, high-profile boards and other businesses, she is someone whose networking web spreads far. She previously served as a Guardian ad Litem board member, domestic violence courtroom advocate, assistant treasurer for the Cape Fear Garden Club and member of the CFCC Foundation board. These days, much of her time outside of work is spent as a New Hanover Regional Medical Center trustee, a seat she was reappointed to earlier this year. She also sits on the NHRMC Foundation’s board. Flower power: Since 2010, Cook has administered an annual flower grant program to area nonprofits in need of arrangements for their fundraising events. B

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EVELYN BRYANT

CEO, NORTHSIDE BRIDGE BUILDERS velyn Bryant is the founder of Northside Bridge

a grassroots organization that aims to educate EBuilders, and provide resources to those undergoing hardships. She is also a legal assistant, community activist, volunteer and mentor.

WHY SHE’S A CONNECTOR: After Hurricane Florence hit

the area in September 2018, Bryant and Northside Bridge Builders volunteers made sure resources and relief supplies made their way to Northside residents. Those outreach efforts have continued, operating out of space on Princess Street. Bryant is vice president of the YWCA Lower Cape Fear board and has chaired the group’s Community Outreach Committee and Stand Against Racism Committee for the past four years. Bryant, who has served in the state advocacy pilot cohort for North Carolina, also formed the YWCA’s Potluck for Peace locally that started in 2016 and once a quarter brings more than 100 people from the community together to discuss local race relations over food and fellowship. Bryant also chair of the joint county-city Community Relations Advisory Committee and secretary for the New Hanover County Board of Elections. She is one of 21 people chosen to serve on the new Partnership Advisory Group, which is providing input in looking at future ownership models for New Hanover Regional Medical Center.


Murchison, Taylor & Gibson PLLC would like to congratulate our clients and friends for the contributions and impact they’ve made in our region. We are proud to see the recognition of those who help make the Greater Wilmington area what it is today. (910) 763-2426 | www.MurchisonTaylor.com 1979 Eastwood Road, Suite 101, Wilmington, NC 28403 12 North 5th Ave, Wilmington, NC 28401

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Keeping promises to our community for over 27 years

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CHARLIE HARDY DEAN, UNCW COLLEGE OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES

harlie Hardy received a

in kinesiology Cdoctorate and psychology from

Louisiana State University. Before becoming the founding dean of UNCW’s College of Health and Human Services in 2011, Hardy was a professor and founding dean of Georgia Southern University’s public health college.

WHY HE’S A CONNECTOR:

Throughout his career, Hardy has helped rural and medically underserved communities. As the founding dean of UNCW’s CHHS, Hardy oversees the academic, research and service programs for the school which has grown from 1,598 enrolled students in 2010 to 4,290 this year. The school has an annual budget of over $21 million dollars. Hardy leads a group of 265 total employees at the school including 130 full-time faculty. To meet demand for its programs, Hardy and his team have been working on the launch of two new degree programs in 2020, a master of health care administration and master science in athletic training. Gold medal: In 1988, Hardy was a visiting scientist at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

of the Durham-based N.C. Biotechnology Center, which has 70 employees. In his role as executive director, Johnson develops working relationships with both area and international professionals and other agencies in the biotechnology industry.

WHY HE’S A CONNECTOR: As

the area’s leader for the group, Johnson helps strengthen economic development through projects and initiatives in a range of sectors including marine; agricultural and industrial biotech; and clinical research. At the state level, he oversees initiatives through the N.C. Economic Development Association, in which he serves as board vice president. Johnson has made connections with national and international companies recently exploring the region for industrial biotech operations. The area’s clinical research cluster is also growing and benefiting from the UNCW’s FuseCR Center (Center for Clinical Research Workforce Development), in which he played a role in helping get off the ground. He is also pulling together partners on a project with the N.C. Clean Energy Technology Center to improve energy resiliency in the state. CRO cluster: Created the N.C. Coast Clinical Research Initiative, an economic development initiative, in partnership with UNCW and local contract research organizations

STEPHANIE LANIER RANDALL JOHNSON

(910) 395-6036

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EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, SOUTHEASTERN OFFICE, N.C. BIOTECHNOLOGY CENTER

andall Johnson is the

director of Rfounding the Southeastern office

OWNER AND BROKER, LANIER PROPERTY GROUP; FOUNDER, THE INSPIRATION LAB

tephanie Lanier opened

Property Group, a SLanier boutique real estate firm in Wilmington, in 2012. She also created The Inspiration Lab, a women’s membership

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JEREMY TOMLINSON PRESIDENT, CAPE FEAR CRAFT BEER ALLIANCE hile Jeremy Tomlinson is in the

world as a small business Wtech technology adviser at Enfuse

Technology Solutions, he contributes to the Wilmington beer industry as president of the Cape Fear Craft Beer Alliance. Tomlinson has led the alliance since it was founded in 2016. He also founded and owns Port City Brew Bus, a Wilmington brewery tour company, and publishes the biannual Wilmington Ale Trail magazine, a free publication that provides a guide to breweries and craft beer.

WHY HE’S A CONNECTOR: Through

the local beer alliance, Tomlinson has led efforts to provide resources and connections for those in the beer industry. That includes providing support for new brewery owners. He is a point of contact for many local government officials and tourism firms on behalf of the Wilmington-area craft beer community. As the alliance’s president, Tomlinson serves as a liaison between the group and local and state officials to address legislation that affects the industry. Tomlinson founded Cape Fear Craft Beer Week, a tourism-driven marketing campaign that highlights the growing local craft brewery scene and the local beer culture. As the group’s president, Tomlinson has also led the Cape Fear Craft & Cuisine, a beer-and-food pairing event. This year, the alliance launched Craft on the Coast, a marketing campaign featuring a website that seeks to attract tourists from outside of Wilmington and the state to local breweries. In his role, Tomlinson shares the economic impact breweries have had on the region, such as 400 brewery jobs and between $20 million and $23 million in yearly sales. Separate from the alliance, Thomlinson is also part of Marchtoberfest, a spring beer festival at the Wilmington Convention Center. PHOTO BY KEVIN KLEITCHES

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CONTINUED FROM p60 community through which she is able to connect working women with one another and the greater business community.

WHY SHE’S A CONNECTOR:

Lanier’s leadership roles also include chair of the UNCW Alumni Association an executive committee position with the Wilmington Chamber of Commerce, which she said allows her to reach a larger audience within the business and education communities while constantly advocating for working women. This year Lanier planned and ran The Inspiration Lab’s annual conference in November, where more than 300 women from North Carolina and beyond gathered in downtown Wilmington. She has also been the recipient of the NC Realtors Rising Star Award and was named to an international list of real estate influencers by Inman News. On stage: Was a TEDxAirlie speaker in March

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TRACEY NEWKIRK FOUNDER, U-NEX-O!/CHAIR, AFRICAN AMERICAN BUSINESS COUNCIL

racey Newkirk, who left a corporate career to start her own business, serves as chairwoman of the Wilmington Chamber of Commerce’s African American Business Council. She previously worked as director of talent acquisition and strategy for Verizon Wireless.

T

during the 1898 coup. Newkirk shares her message about what can be done to heal the divide, one that many in the community say can still be felt in the area today, with groups throughout the Wilmington region and its business community. She is also a certified personal resilience practitioner, as well as a board member with the Wilmington Chamber of Commerce and Wilmington Area Rebuilding Ministry (WARM). Birthplace: Leland

WHY SHE’S A CONNECTOR:

Newkirk worked with chamber head Natalie English to form the council to help African American business owners gain more connections and influence within the local business community. She regularly speaks on the topic of intentional inclusion, on the premise that Wilmington suffered an intentional divide

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TAMMY PROCTOR DIRECTOR OF TOURISM AND PIO, PENDER COUNTY

ammy Proctor was hired as

County’s tourism TPender director in 2015. She later

took on the role of the county’s public information officer. She has 23 years of experience working in newspapers in Ohio. Also in Ohio, she spent six years working part time as a director for a chamber of commerce. Locally, she spent more than a year as director of the Greater Topsail Area Chamber of Commerce.

WHY SHE’S A CONNECTOR:

Proctor has two vital roles for Pender County. As tourism director, she promotes the county’s businesses, beaches and other area attractions. Proctor oversees three employees in the county’s tourism department. She also distributes county information and updates to media and residents through her public information officer role. During and after Hurricane Florence, which caused widespread damage in Pender County, Proctor spread info about the storm, recovery efforts and marketing messages to try and attract beach visitors back to the area this summer. Tourism plays a major part in the county’s economic


W I L M I N GTO N B I Z 1 0 0 CO N N E C TO R S development. Proctor helps to attract visitors to the county through media campaigns and provides data and information, such as summer populations needed by businesses. The organization also spearheaded a shop local program during the holidays. Proctor serves on the Friends of the Mountain-toSea Trail board, N.C. Beach, Inlet & Waterway Association board, the Greater Topsail Area Chamber of Commerce board, and serves as chair of the N.C. Coast Host board. Spooky nods: A Ghost Walk the tourism department created recently received two national awards

JIM ROBERTS FOUNDER, NETWORK FOR ENTREPRENEURS IN WILMINGTON

im Roberts, who

from the Jgraduated University of Florida with a bachelor’s in advertising, has spent his career providing resources and connections to entrepreneurs and startups, most recently through Network for Entrepreneurs in Wilmington (NEW). Previously, Roberts was the director of the CIE and community development director for Bunker Labs.

WHY HE’S A CONNECTOR:

Through NEW, Roberts hosts free monthly events that connect entrepreneurs, investors, service providers and others interested in entrepreneurship. Over 60 angel investors and venture capitalists from Raleigh and Durham have spoken at NEW events. He also founded Wilmington Angels for Local Entrepreneurs, which works to find local and regional startups for members to invest in for growth. He helped raise funds to bring the local chapter of Bunker Labs to Wilmington.

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Roberts helped launch the Connect Conference in partnership with Cucalorus. As a connector of entrepreneurs and investors to opportunities, Roberts has been building the “coastal corridor,” a two-way path he sees that connects resources from the Raleigh/ Durham ecosystems to local Wilmington entrepreneurs. Committees part of: NC IDEA and NC Tech Association

DALLAS ROMANOWSKI CEO AND CO-FOUNDER PERFORMANCE CULTURE

allas Romanowski is the

up Performance Dheads Culture Inc., a cloud-based performance management platform.

It is a spin-off company from Cornerstone Business Advisors, a company founded by Romanowski and Rich Novak in 2008. Romanowski previously worked as a business development executive for IBM and management consultant for Accenture.

WHY HE’S A CONNECTOR: Over

the years, Romanowski has played a role in the success of a number of businesses, ranging from Fortune 5000 level to small companies. He’s coached more than 100 business leaders in the local region with a focus on business growth and company culture. Many of them have become familiar names as they’ve grown in recent years. Clients have included N2 Publishing, ARC Transit, MCO Transport, Coastal Beverage, Marpac, Filmwerks and more. Romanowski mentors UNCW students as part of the Cameron Executive Network. Wordsmithing: Romanowski wrote a leadership book called “Performance Culture.”

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RISING

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

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ZANE BENNETT EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, PLANTATION VILLAGE

ane Bennett graduated

Florida Atlantic Zfrom University with a

bachelor’s in business administration in marketing and management. He received an MBA at the University of North Carolina Wilmington. Bennet started his career with Life Care Services Corp., which manages Plantation Village, in San Diego as an associate administrator. He then became an administrator in a Milwaukee location and two years later the executive director of Plantation Village in Wilmington. Bennett is also a board member at the nonprofit ACCESS of Wilmington Inc.

WHY HE’S A RISING STAR:

As the executive director of Plantation Village, Bennett has led efforts to keep the retirement community up to date with the latest technologies. Last year, it launched an online resident portal where residents can access daily schedules, sign up for events, log work orders and communicate with their neighbors. Bennett is looking to integrate the system with Amazon Alexa and Google Home so residents can use voice commands. During his time at Plantation Village, it has increased the lowest wages of its employees by 20% and will increase it again by 10% next year in an effort to provide a living wage. Number of Employees: 150

ELIZABETH BARFIELD HEALTH EQUITY EDUCATION SPECIALIST, NHRMC

lizabeth Barfield, who grew up in Wilmington, returned

Port City after graduating from the University Etoof the North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She works in New

Hanover Regional Medical Center’s Health Equity department, a department whose goals include reducing health disparities in the community.

WHY SHE’S A RISING STAR: Barfield strives to improve

relationships and communication between health care providers and patients. She organized a health literacy campaign centered on engaging physicians to use plain language when communicating with patients, spoke at a conference at UNC on implicit bias and lead community conversations around racial reconciliation through an organization called Be The Bridge. Barfield has also spoken at events for local schools, the Wilmington Chamber of Commerce and various panels to bring attention to disparities in the community. Currently, she is spearheading a committee at NHRMC focused on eliminating disparities for LGBTQ+ members of the community and working to increase engagement throughout the organization on the topic of implicit bias and cultural humility through training sessions and coaching to ensure equitable health outcomes. Additionally, she’s a member of StepUp Wilmington’s board of young professionals; a small group leader at her church; secretary of ONYX, an African American employee resource group at NHRMC; and Community Partnerships Group Leader for a transformation team at NHRMC focused on enhancing organizational culture.

s a graduate from the

of North AUniversity Carolina Wilmington,

CARSON BOWEN GENERAL MANAGER, WILMINGTON SHARKS BASEBALL

manager, Bowen worked his way up the chain of command at Wilmington Sharks. This year, the Coastal Plain League, which includes 16 summer collegiate baseball teams, named the Wilmington Sharks the league’s organization of the year. During his time with the local league, in-stadium attendance has increased by 32% from 2017 to 2019. Game-day revenues have also increased, doubling from 2018 to 2019. With the Sharks, Bowen works on community projects including the Sharks Around the Bases program, a literacy and reading comprehension effort for second-grade students that has reached nearly 6,000 students in three counties. He also helped develop the Heroes Box program, which recognizes community heroes and their families. Player Bowen helped get drafted: Alec Bohm-Philadelphia Phillies

Carson Bowen received a bachelor’s degree in marketing in 2015. His career at Wilmington Sharks started in 2014 where Bowen had the role of broadcast intern. A year later, he became

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director of ticket operations and media, then the director of baseball operations and finally general manager in 2018. Carson also serves on the Board of Young Professional of Communities in Schools of Cape Fear.

WHY HE’S A RISING STAR: From a broadcast intern to general

KATHRYN BRUNER CITY LEADER, BUNKER LABS

athryn Bruner, a real

broker with Kestate Intracoastal Realty,

recently moved to North Carolina in 2010 when she was stationed with the Coast Guard to conduct search and rescue operations. After leaving the Coast Guard in 2017, she became heavily involved in the Wilmington community.

WHY SHE’S A RISING STAR:

Bruner serves as city leader for a national veteran nonprofit organization called Bunker Labs, which recently started a chapter in Wilmington. In that role, she connects veterans and military spouses with resources to start their own business and become successful entrepreneurs.

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DAVID MORRISON COACH AND OWNER, DF MORRISON CONSULTING avid Morrison began

career in the Dhis nonprofit world as a

board member for many nonprofit organizations in the area, including ACCESS of Wilmington. He graduated from UNCW with a bachelor’s degree in English and professional writing and then went on to get a master’s degree in public administration. Throughout his career, Morrison has been a nonprofit adviser at the CIE, a coach at QENO and lecturer at Cape Fear Community College’s Small Business Center.

WHY HE’S A RISING STAR:

n n n n n n n n n n

LITIGATION CONSTRUCTION DISPUTES MEDIATION, ARBITRATION, & COLLABORATIVE LAW REAL ESTATE DEVELOPMENT & ZONING EMINENT DOMAIN & CONDEMNATION LICENSING DISPUTES CONTRACT DRAFTING TITLE INSURANCE BANKING LITIGATION LIENS

(910) 777-5995 hamletandassociates.com 5215 Junction Park Circle, Suite 202, Wilmington, NC 28412 66

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While working at the CIE, Morrison has helped develop its nonprofit policy and has worked one-on-one with various nonprofits. He has hosted many workshops with information for nonprofits at Cucalorus Connect, the CIE and CFCC’s Small Business Center. She is a Rotarian, ambassador with Port City Young Professionals and volunteer with Cape Fear Equine Rescue. She frequently speaks on panels and events for the military community. Couple goals: Bruner and her husband, Zach, renovate distressed properties

In 2017, Morrison launched DF Morrison Consulting, an advising nonprofit firm with a focus on helping young nonprofits with their launch. So far, Morrison has helped more than 20 organizations achieve their nonprofit status. Through his consulting business, he helps nonprofits with strategic planning, fundraising efforts and board development. DF Morrison Consulting partnered with EntreDot to offer a 10-week nonprofit entrepreneurship program online. First career: Journalist networking events to connect young people entering the career field. Curry graduated from the University of North Carolina Wilmington with a bachelor’s degree in communication studies. Previously, she was the director of marketing at McColl & Associates and Little Wing Marketing. In 2017, Curry ventured out on her own with the launch of Remedy Digital Agency.

WHY SHE’S A RISING STAR: In

JENNA CURRY FOUNDER AND PRESIDENT, PORT CITY YOUNG PROFESSIONALS

s the founder of Port

Young Professionals ACity (PCYP), Jenny Curry facilitates free monthly

2009, a year after graduating college, Curry founded PCYP as a small passion project to unite young professionals. Since then, the group has grown to thousands of members who are connected to volunteer opportunities, businesses, area events, job openings and personal and professional development opportunities.


W I L M I N GTO N B I Z 1 0 0 R I S I N G S TA R S PCYP hosts live events, has social media outreach and a mobile app that connects business and nonprofits to an audience of young professionals. As the owner and lead digital strategist at Remedy Digital Agency, Curry leads marketing campaigns for local businesses. In 2017, Curry became the co-owner of Wilmington Today, a yearly hardbound guidebook for Wilmington visitors and newcomers. Number of professionals PCYP serves: 3,000

KURT TAYLOR CEO, UNTAPPD

n 2012, Kurt Taylor

Next Glass, Ifounded a startup that created

personalized beer and wine recommendations for its users. In 2016, the company merged with beer social networking app Untappd, now a subsidiary of Next Glass.

WHY HE’S A RISING STAR: Over the past three years, Untappd has grown to millions of users worldwide. In 2018, the software company was ranked as the fastest-growing technology company in North Carolina by Deloitte Technology Fast 500. Untappd had 2,809% growth in three years, according to Deloitte data. Over a short span of time and under Taylor’s leadership, the company has grown to 110 employees with headquarters in downtown Wilmington. The company is also a three-time Inc. 500 recipient, an Inc. best workplaces recipient and it ranked on the Entrepreneur 360 list. Taylor also ranked on Forbes 30 under 30 list in the food and drink category in 2015. In 2018, the app had about 8.6 million users.
 Started career at: Fennebresque & Co.

JUD WATKINS OWNER, WRIGHTSVILLE BEACH BREWERY

ud Watkins, who grew

with his Jupfatheroystering and grandfather

in Wrightsville Beach and Masonboro marshes, opened Wrightsville Beach Brewery in 2015. He was recently elected to the executive committee of the N.C. Craft Brewers Guild’s board. He also serves on local boards including at the Small Business and Technology Development Center and the Bird Island Reserve Advisory.

WHY HE’S A RISING STAR:

Since its opening, Wrightsville Beach Brewery has grown to 70 employees, all of whom are not affected by seasonal layoffs. The brewery also implemented its “11%” program where it donates 11% of proceeds from its beer of the month to 11 nonprofit partners throughout the year. This year some of the nonprofits included paws4people and the Brigade Boys & Girls Club. The brewery is currently undergoing its third expansion in three years to increase its capacity. The brewery this year acquired two 40-barrel fermentation tanks, which might be two of the largest tanks to ever be installed in Wilmington, Watkins has said. 40 barrels is the equivalent of 80 large kegs or more than 1,200 gallons of beer The driving factor behind the large tanks was the demand for Wrightsville Beach Brewery’s flagship beers including its Kölsch Krush, Signal Fire Session IPA and Airlie Amber Ale. Wrightsville Brewery received an N.C. Coastal Federation Pelican award for business engagement and support of the state’s coast. Beer award: Best Pale Ale gold medal, 2019 American Palate Awards

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THE SCENE WilmingtonBiz Events

Snapshots from the WilmingtonBiz After Hours, Health Care Heroes Awards, and WILMA's Women to Watch Awards.Stay tuned to upcoming events at WilmingtonBiz.com.

Trudy Solomon, Rebecca Rider-Yogg, Jenean LaCorte and Brandy Edwards at the Health Care Heroes Awards.

Jessica Loeper joins family and friends at WILMA's Women to Watch Awards.

Regina Fisher and Hanson Matthews at the Coalition's Business Roundtables.

Suzy Diggle-Fox stands up as she is recongnized at the Health Care Heroes Awards.

Lauren Henderson and Pam Fortenberry-Slate at WILMA's Women to Watch Awards.

Tamika Bierlein and Johnsie Davis at the Health Care Heroes Awards.

Susan McCarley, Jennifer Merritt, Annette Boring, Eleanor Arsenault and Kerry Kasotski and friends gather at the WilmingtonBiz After Hours at Bluewater Grill.

Ryan Bisplinghoff, Walt Rapp, Spencer Beard and Luke Dalton at the Coalitions Business Roundtables.

Paul Hrvol and Ashley Miller at the WilmingtonBiz After Hours at Bluewater Grill.

U PCOM I NG EVE NTS Book on Business Launch January 29, 2020

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Power Breakfast March 3, 2020

WilmingtonBiz Conference & Expo March 18, 2020

Coastal Entrepreneur Awards May 21, 2020


Jay Bryant, Andrew Pierce and friends at the WilmingtonBiz After Hours at Bluewater Grill.

Finalists in Education: Jessica Gaffney, Kellie Griggs, Darlena Moore, Crystal Sutherland and Kendall Tidey at WILMA's Women to Watch Awards.

Kelly Brown with friends at the WilmingtonBiz After Hours at Bluewater Grill. MaLisa Umstead and Dawn Ferrer at the Health Care Heroes Awards.

Belinda Phillips at the Health Care Heroes Awards.

Tracy Weekman joins friends at the WilmingtonBiz After Hours at Bluewater Grill.

Anna Hardy DeRita, Becky Hardy, Gale Herring, Cathy Poulos, Lifetime Achievement Winner Charlie Hardy and George Poulis at the Health Care Heroes Awards.

WilmingtonBiz After Hours May 27, 2020

Power Breakfast June 18, 2020

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WILMA Leadership Accelerator July 15, 2020

Angela Livingston, Victoria Oxendine, Jessica Williams, Jill Veovi and Christy Spivey at the Health Care Heroes Awards.

WilmingtonBiz After Hours July 29, 2020

WilmingtonBiz After Hours September 23, 2020

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INVESTING

IN VISITORS

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HE CAPE FEAR AREA HAS A MULTITUDE OF ATTRACTIONS THAT WELCOME TOURISTS AND RESIDENTS ALIKE EACH YEAR.

BY LAURA MOORE

PHOTOS BY T.J. DRECHSEL

In recent years, area attractions such as the Fort Fisher State Historic Site, Battleship North Carolina and N.C. Aquarium at Fort Fisher have played host to far greater numbers of visitors; in addition to this added burden of use,

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BIG CHANGES TO AREA ATTRACTIONS ARE ON THE ITINERARY FOR 2020

Hap Fatzinger, executive director of the N.C. Aquarium at Fort Fisher

time and weather have taken their toll on these structures. Finished upgrades from 2019 and planned projects for 2020 at these points of interest are creating a buzz for new opportunities and interesting possibilities in the year ahead.

NATURAL HABITAT

The N.C. Aquarium at Fort Fisher conservatory, home to the aquarium’s albino alligator and mascot, Luna, and Maverick, its rescued bald eagle, is currently closed due to the replacement


of the facility’s roof and fire suppression system. These changes and others are a part of a multimillion-dollar project proposed to repair and renovate the aquarium, as well as to bring new residents to the facility. The work began Nov. 4 and is expected to take six months, officials said. In January, the aquarium will break ground on a new otter habitat that will be home to Asian smallclawed otters, the smallest of the otter species. “We are excited to tell a different story about otter species and how these thrive in family units that are multigenerational,” aquarium executive director Hap Fatzinger said. “We look forward to talking about family and to engage our visitors with these animals.” The repairs to the conservatory, to include the roof and fire suppression pipe replacement, is a $2.2 million project that is funded through state repair and renovation funds combined with aquarium division funds, which are revenues from aquarium operations, according to Fatzinger. During construction, general admission tickets are being reduced by $3 during the partial closure. Once complete, the new roof will provide better, more translucent light flow to support a healthy plant environment, and the new otter exhibit will be “fantastic to walk into,” Fatzinger said. The new otter habitat will be built using aquarium division funds and private support through the N.C. Aquarium Society. Money from the state budget, $5 million in appropriations, is expected to support future renovation plans that are in design at this time. A new home also is coming for Maverick, the bald eagle, who is currently living in the aquarium’s behind-the-scenes area while his new habitat in the site’s gardens is built. Officials are looking to add a friend for him, another rescued animal to share space in the outdoor habitat, which is planned to open Memorial Day weekend. The spot also will be home

RENDERING C/O FRIENDS OF FORT FISHER

FORT FISHER STATE HISTORIC SITE

plans to rebuild and expand the current visitors center to accommodate the nearly 1 million visitors who tour the Civil War fort each year.

to the aquarium’s 25 box turtles. Memorial Day weekend will also feature the opening of the Butterfly Bungalow where hundreds of butterflies from South America will fly among flowering plants. “This is an immersive space,” Fatzinger said, “where visitors can go into this beautiful environment and have butterflies fly all around them and even land on them.”

MODERN HISTORY

In 2020, the Fort Fisher State Historic Site will grow, and that growth means visitors will have a better chance to interact with the site as soldiers had during the Civil War and to understand the story of

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the fort. It also means there will be more options for using the space for education and celebration. “We are expanding our exhibits. Today the average museumgoer expects interactive exhibits, so that requires an update,” said Christine Divoky, executive director of the Friends of Fort Fisher. “History is not a static thing, so we are shifting to highlight different facts and give visitors a different, more interactive aspect. We have taken a look at how we’re telling the Fort Fisher experience.” A new two-story visitors center will be built as well as the reconstruction of some original outside exhibits. Officials plan to establish a more interactive exhibit, W I N T E R 2019

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PHOTO C/O BATTLESHIP NORTH CAROLINA

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PHOTO C/O BATTLESHIP NORTH CAROLINA

and three outdoor mounds will be reconstructed, providing increasing interactivity for visitors. “Our earthen mounds have been lost to the ocean and time, so we are reconstructing our earthworks, our mounds, so visitors can get a much better understanding of this formidable wall of defense,” Divoky said. Just south of Kure Beach, the Confederate fort played a key role during the Civil War in keeping Wilmington’s port open to blockade runners. It fell in January 1865 toward the end of the war. The current visitors center was built in 1965, and at the time it was built to serve 25,000 visitors a year. Now the Fort Fisher State Historic Site hosts more than 900,000 visitors to the property annually, according to Divoky. “No matter how you look at it, we have far exceeded the original intention of the building,” she said. A bigger auditorium is in the plans as well. The current one holds 80 people, which is far too


small for the large groups the site regularly receives. There also are plans to have a multipurpose space to be used as a classroom or as an event space. “Now the grounds can be rented, but this will give an internal component for meetings, weddings and business retreats,” Divoky said. “We do not charge admission, so this gives us an opportunity to be self-sustaining as well as to be flexible for education options. This is exactly what our staff has wanted for education, exhibits and capacity to better serve large numbers of visitors all at once.” Plans are set to break ground during the fourth quarter of 2020. The cost is estimated at $23 million, but that is not the final budget as the project is still in its design phase. According to Divoky, $7.5 million from state funding is needed for the building, and that (as of press time) is still tied up in the ongoing state budget negotiations. “These things take time,” Divoky said. “We hope to be included in the

final budget, and we have our own campaign to fund the exhibits.”

GETTING SHIPSHAPE

In 2019, the Battleship North Carolina saw a lot of action. Construction crews were able to finish construction on a new visitors center and a new walkway around the ship. In the coming year, the ship will receive more updates, including the much-needed repairs to its hull. “We completely redid our visitors center after it was destroyed by Hurricane Florence,” said Stacie Greene Hidek, the battleship’s marketing director. “It was a blessing in disguise, so now we are sturdy for future storms. And we have a new roof, new windows with improved wind ratings and a reliable generator, which will help in the future.” The fresh new building for visitors to enjoy includes a newly designed Legacy Gallery honoring the ships carrying the name North Carolina. The visitors center also features a Window on Wilmington.

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“Downtown looks at us all the time; now we get to look at it,” Hidek explained. In addition, a new area of the ship was opened for the first time in decades. A cold storage area now is available for viewing. It is the ice maker facility where visitors can still see the bells that sailors would ring if they got locked in the refrigerator. Officials with the historic attraction, a World War II battleship that was decommissioned in 1947 and towed to its current spot in the Cape Fear River in 1961, are starting to take bids at the Battleship to do the necessary repairs to the hull. “Now that the repairs to the cofferdam are in place and fully functioning – it was tested and came through with flying colors,” Hidek said. “The hull will be cut open, and we will replace it with steel that is to be donated by Nucor steel.” The battleship’s development campaign expects the hull work to cost $4 million. If it costs more, reserve funds from fundraising will be used, Hidek said.

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J O N AT HA N BAR F I E L D Chairman, NHC Board of Commissioners

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A DA M J O N E S Regional Economist, UNCW’s Cameron School of Business

B I L L SAF F O Mayor, City of Wilmington

DAV E S P E T R I N O Founder, PBC Design + Build

J O DY WAI N I O Managing Broker, Keller Williams Realty

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INNOVATION + HOUSING:

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Community, business, and real estate leaders came together recently to tackle the tough questions surrounding the Wilmington region’s significant growth and demand for housing. Will new home construction actually solve housing affordability problems or is reallocation of existing housing part of the puzzle? Should we be looking to other communities for solutions or focusing on mistakes they made so we can avoid them? A full house at UNCW’s Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship heard a frank conversation about moving the needle on providing quality housing priced within the reach of teachers, service workers and others in the working class. This event was hosted by the Greater Wilmington Business Journal and Majestic Kitchen & Bath Creations. What follows is an edited transcript of the discussion.

ADAM JONES: Right now the U.S. economy is doing really well. Unemployment is near record lows. The stock markets are ticking all time highs. We’re seeing wage growth. Anytime we’re at full employment and you’re at the top, there’s really nowhere to go but down. So we all get a little bit nervous, but don’t forget things are pretty good right now. And that’s true in the local region as well. Now when things are going real well like that, we start to focus on some of these other issues that I think are really important. I joke with my students that income inequality’s really a good problem to have because that means we have income, opposed to most countries in the world who are focused on how to generate income. So let’s talk a little bit about affordable housing for a second. We hear an awful lot about cost burdened households and severely burdened households. And those numbers for a cost burden is typically thought of as 30 percent or more of their income going to paying for housing costs. So if we think of these cost burdens and you’re thinking about housing costs as a fraction of income, there are two pieces to that. We’re spending a lot of time focused on the cost side; we want to think about the income side as well. Both of those pieces are contributing to our problem. So you’ve got rising home costs, rising rents, which is true nationwide, and you have income that’s rising but not as quickly. So what do potential solutions look like? The way we tend to think about things in economics, we think about markets and we think about matches between supply and demand, but we often miss the fact

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that we’re all different. We all have different desires, needs, wants. And if we’re going to solve these housing issues, we need to start thinking about the individuals, what is their specific need and how do we meet that, not just the average home price. We need to think about how do we provide the types of housing and units that certain folks want. This could be single family, this could be multifamily which means we need lots of different types of houses. So if we think about the other side of the ratio that doesn’t get as much attention, where are the jobs that we are creating in the region? We’ll focus on New Hanover County since that’s where we’re sitting with the top three industries in terms of job creation. We’re trade, transportation, utilities, professional and business services — which is a reflection of the region growing and New Hanover County and, specifically, the city of Wilmington becoming the urban anchor — and leisure and hospitality. So those are your types of work. I’m not sure it’s surprising to anybody when we start to think about the wages that go with those. Trade, transportation, utilities has an average annual wage of $37,000 a year. Professional and business services is considerably higher, at about $55,000 a year. And leisure and hospitality average is $17,800 a year. Those are the folks that we’re trying to figure out how to help, and it’s gonna be really hard to do it.

We’re spending a lot of time focused on the cost side; we want to think about the income side as well. Both of those pieces are contributing to our problem. Adam Jones Regional Economist, UNCW Cameron School of Business

JODY WAINIO: So you’re talking about supply and demand. I pulled up some numbers from the MLS to show how many homes are available for sale in New Hanover County, it could be a condo, a town home, a manufactured home, or a single family home. In the under $150,000 category there are currently 69 homes on the market, which is very small. If I look at the absorption rate — how many months worth of inventory we have on the market — that gives us 2.9 months worth of inventory. But when I look at the quality of the homes in the area, in that price range, a lot of them are in town. These need a significant amount of rehab and they’re just not the right fit for a first-time buyer or someone new to this who lives paycheck to paycheck. If I go up a little bit more in price to $200,000, I’ve got 88 homes on the market, but that’s only 1.6 months worth of inventory. And then $200,000 to $250,000 there were 121 homes, which is 2.2 months worth of inventory. So even though the numbers get a little larger as you go up, the supply is far from sufficient. ADAM JONES: You talk about these different income ranges, right? If we open up land to build, where are the builders going to build? Are they going to build in this lower income end or are they going to say, well, my margins and my profit are higher up on the upper income?

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DAVE SPETRINO: Everyone in this room believes that everyone needs a home. As to Adam’s point, as we have stabilized and regrouped and reset, we are able to put our efforts toward our community. We continue to see a more diverse range of buyers as opposed to just the retirees that I dealt with in the 1990s. If everyone does what they’re supposed to do and meets the form and the intention, then we’re good. You build an accessory dwelling unit which has 7,000 square feet behind the 1,100 square foot house it’s a really cheap way to get one less person out of the challenges of housing affordability. It’s not going to solve the problem, but it’s a tool we should do a better job at. And this city is working on that. JONATHAN BARFIELD: I’m glad we’re having a conversation, but to me it’s a bit late. I took the trip with the Chamber of Commerce down to Charleston about four years ago. They found that people were driving 30, 40, 50 miles away to work because you couldn’t afford a home in Charleston proper. And four years ago when we were having this conversation on how do we make an impact and attack this problem, and here we are so many folks not being able to afford a home. For me, home ownership is a way to establish a real wealth in a way that people who look like me are able to extend wealth to their families by having home ownership and transferring their equity in that property to the family once someone passes on or mom and dad gives the home to their children. Looking at the fact that the county has raised its minimum wage last year to $15 an hour, that’s just over

$31,000 a year. If you’re a single person working for $31,000 a year there’s really not a home that you could afford to buy anywhere in New Hanover County. So these people are looking in Brunswick and Pender County as a way to at least have a home. How do we retain those folks in our community when housing affordability is really not there? I think that’s going to be our challenge. BILL SAFFO: It is a supply and demand issue, you need to understand that the city of Wilmington is about 98 percent built out. There’s demand for affordable housing, and the wages are rising, but not as fast as the costs. So what you’re seeing every single day when you’re dealing with traffic issues that you see people that are in the affordable housing business going farther and farther out, 15 miles, 20 miles out. You find the land availability, number one, and then the cost structure to put in the infrastructure. You’ve got about 41 square miles left in the county to develop, which is about the same size as the city of Wilmington. We’re going to have to partner with the county if we’re going to be able to attack anything with regard to affordable housing because that’s where the land availability is. Then the other part is as the population grows further out, you’re going to have to really talk about an improved public transportation system, which would make a lot of sense for us to be able to place people in here. That’s something that I hope that we can continue to work on with the county commissioners. The demand is much greater than the supply. This region is going to continue to grow west and it’s going to

As we have stabilized and regrouped and reset, we are able to put our efforts toward our community. We continue to see a more diverse range of buyers as opposed to just the retirees that I dealt with in the 1990s. Dave Spetrino Founder, PBC Design + Build

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If you’re a single person working for $31,000 a year there’s really not a home that you could afford to buy anywhere in New Hanover County. So these people are looking in Brunswick and Pender County as a way to at least have a home. Jonathan Barfield Chairman, NHC Board of Commissioners

continue to go north and you’re going to see that population and that traffic coming from this community because that’s where the jobs are and it’s something that we’re going to be struggling with, not only for affordable housing but with transportation. NATLIE ENGLISH: The Chamber’s role is to be the effective business advocate, and so on one end of that spectrum it’s reducing regulation and reducing the cost of, or at least maintaining the cost of doing business today rather than adding to that cost. On the other end, ensuring that our businesses have access to a workforce and that workforce needs affordable housing. They need also choice of housing. We talk about the kinds of development that we are proposing in this community that’s getting shot down by the residents nearby. And so educating people in this community about what higher density housing looks like is important. When I look at other communities around the country — because this is not unique, we’re not the only community in this position — nobody’s gotten it right. Nobody’s figured it out yet and it’s not going to be a one size fits all solution, but we can go to school on what other communities are doing. And there are some doing some unique things. And in every case, however, it’s not the developer’s responsibility solely; it’s not just government’s; and it’s not just Habitat’s responsibility and all of those communities that are making a dent, it’s a combined responsibility and the amount of investment is much larger than what we’re doing today. ADAM JONES: If we’re talking about the income side, we start

thinking about the costs of a commute. We talk about cost of owning a car and the cost of gas, but I think the biggest costs are you can’t spend that time with your family. You can’t spend that learning and bettering yourself or maybe staying late because if you spend a long time in a car that just eats up your most valuable resource, which is your time. NATALIE ENGLISH: Some of those rural counties next door to us are saying they want to stay rural. So they are proposing and or adopting policies that aren’t going to allow for development of hardly any kind, and so people then are having to choose to live in New Hanover if they’re going to work here because those other counties have said nope, we’re going to keep our policies in certain ways that you can’t build any more housing here. And that’s going to impact us significantly. DAVE SPETRINO: So we had a time when rents dropped in Wilmington. It was between 2000 and 2002 they just didn’t stagnate they dropped 3 percent which is unheard of, it was a mini recession. We had a tremendous buildup of apartments, especially along MLK and certain other pockets around Wilmington at Kerr and Randall. It increased the amount of options which allow people to either relocate or move. This past year we saw an anomaly of a 7 percent increase in rents, which again, if you said, hey, rents are going to run between two and a half, 3 percent a year, I go, okay, that’s good. That’s healthy. I can live with that. But at 7 percent that’s untenable and it’s also unrealistic.

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If I was able to build in this city where the roads are already built and the access to public transportation already exists, and these are closest to shopping and jobs and the places where people need to be that do generate traffic, I don’t care how many units, I don’t care what the zoning is. Build as many as you want because what will occur is you will start to stabilize the market by creating supply.

Nobody’s figured it out yet and it’s not going to be a one size fits all solution, but we can go to school on what other communities are doing. Natalie English President, Wilmington Chamber of Commerce

JONATHAN BARFIELD: One of the things we haven’t talked about is affordable housing for seniors. We have a growing senior population here, but yet they’re not really able to afford anything. Some of the affordable housing units for seniors are based on their income, so you’re getting $800 a month on social security, you may have a rent of $300-$400. Those units aren’t here, but we are seeing a rise in our senior population. JODY WAINIO: One of the other things we haven’t really touched on is concentration of poverty. So when you do look at what we have available to build on, if you build, they will come doesn’t always work, right? There was a good period of time after the storm that the new apartments over near Creekwood had a lot of vacancies and it was because people didn’t want to bring their kids and live there. So when you talk about I don’t want it in my backyard — sometimes that’s the argument — well if it’s not in your backyard, then it’s going to be here and you’re going to have more and more poverty in one location. NATALIE ENGLISH: I would say it’s also about maintaining a climate that is attractive for additional job growth. Until we grow income, this just continues to become a larger and larger problem and we can’t grow jobs if we have businesses that are from outside the area who are worried and thinking for whatever reason they shouldn’t be here. It tells business leaders they ought to be concerned about our uncertainty, about the climate here.

The city of Wilmington is about 98 percent built out ... We’re going to have to partner with the county if we’re going to be able to attack anything with regard to affordable housing because that’s where the land availability is. Bill Saffo Mayor, City of Wilmington

DAVE SPETRINO: Let’s make sure we focus on what didn’t work or what hasn’t worked in other communities. Rent control, which has been around for almost a century isn’t working because the areas where it’s occurred, no more housing is being developed. No supply comes into the market. Inclusionary zoning has also had a similar effect. It hasn’t been a meaningful enough change. So I think one thing we can do is look at communities who have had this problem for a lot longer and make sure we don’t create the same mistakes that they did. NATALIE ENGLISH: I would say that those that are having successes — Colorado, Asheville, Charlotte, Raleigh — they had a joint task force who came together with a plan and they identified how many units over how many years, and then what’s the plan? And then you sell the plan because then then you can get neighbors to buy in.

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BILL SAFFO: You’re going to have to put some money into this thing, the public sector and private sector working together to try and find some ideas. Us putting money from the city into particular projects where we can incentivize the developer to say, okay, we’ll pick up several hundred thousand dollars worth of water and sewer costs. But before we do that, we want you to put 5 percent, 10 percent, 20 percent affordable units into this development. That’s one side of it. The other side you’re going to have to contend with that we see is we see the community come out. Everybody talks about they love affordable housing, but when it comes down to a vote on the city council or County Commissioners, when you start talking about it, you’ve got a whole other dilemma when people come out and say how dare you put it in my backyard, you’re going to destroy my neighborhood. Those are real issues and real discussions that we see on a regular basis.

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In the under $150,000 category there are currently 69 homes on the market, which is very small. If I look at the absorption rate ... that gives us 2.9 months worth of inventory. Jody Wainio Managing Broker, Keller Williams Realty

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P R E PA R I N G FOR A WAVE SMALL BRUNSWICK COUNTY TOWN ON A PAT H T O M O R E H O M E S , B U S I N E S S E S

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ulis Willis grew up in the Navassa area and remembers the way things used to be in the years before the northern Brunswick County town’s incorporation in 1977. “Everybody knew everybody,” the town’s longtime mayor said. “They had about the same kind of income.” But the area also had mud streets and a lot of needs. “After we incorporated, we were able to change and improve some of that … some of it, not all of it,” Willis said. About 2,100 people live in Navassa, a town that can trace its origins to the 1880s. Officials and developers expect that number to grow by the thousands over the next two decades. Earlier this year, town officials granted preliminary plat approval for at least 322 homesites in a portion of one development, River Bend, and 100 sites in a community expected to be called Indian Creek. Both developments are close to the Interstate 140 bypass, which opened in December 2017. Things have progressed quite a bit over the past few years when it comes to Navassa’s anticipated growth, Willis said, adding, “I guess the No. 1 impact would’ve been I-140 coming through. That just kind of opened us up to the world, cause now all of the sudden we’re accessible. We’ve got all this cheap land that’s vacant within five minutes of Wilmington.” Willis said he believes the town has the infrastructure and planning capabilities to handle the homes that are coming. w i l m i n g t o n b i z m a g a z i n e . c o m

“I wouldn’t necessarily say I’m a slowgrowth or no-growth proponent,” he said. “I can’t say that. But what I can say is that I know that it needs to be controlled to an extent.” Indian Creek at full build-out could hold more than 3,600 residential units, while River Bend could hold almost 2,200. Over time, the units would be of various types, including single family, townhomes and multifamily. A portion of River Bend, about 100 acres, is under contract with Pickett Investments LLC for a single-family home project that could be called The Lakes at River Bend, which would include the 322 homes, up to a potential 472. The 322 lots already have approval, said Ron Pickett, managing member of Pickett Investments LLC. Pickett agrees that I-140 is one of the major factors in why his company wants to develop in Navassa now, saying, “You can be at PPD (one of the area’s largest employers, located in downtown Wilmington) in nine minutes.” People are “seeing the ease of getting to and from not only Navassa but Leland as well,” said Jon Vincent, one of the owners of the River Bend land. Proximity to an employment center isn’t necessarily something people might have used to describe Navassa in the past, officials said. “I think the bypass was kind of the trigger,” said Barnes Sutton, Navassa’s town planner of more than two years. “I think a lot of people were waiting for that because it had been planned for so long. … The idea was always that Navassa is just kind of remote and so far away from everything. And then when the bypass opened up, it was like, ‘Oh, it’s really not that far.’” W I N T E R 2019

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NAVASSA AT A GLANCE LOCATION NORTHERN BRUNSWICK COUNTY, ABOUT 10 MILES FROM WILMINGTON, ON THE WEST BANK WHERE THE BRUNSWICK AND CAPE FEAR RIVERS CONVERGE

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What would adding nearly 6,000, or even an initial 400 or 500 homes, mean to Navassa? “It means a lot – good and bad,” Sutton said. “The good obviously is the tax base, and then we’ve been struggling to get any kind of commercial development going because we only have a population of about 2,100. So they always say that retail follows rooftops. River Bend and Indian Creek are Planned Unit Developments or PUDs, akin to mixed-use developments in other communities, including the city of Wilmington. The River Bend PUD, for example, includes commercial uses in a portion of the community that might otherwise have been more residential uses without nearby commercial space, Sutton said. “It could have easily gone for luxury condos,” Sutton said. “But we were able to work with this developer in saying, ‘Hey, we really need this, and your community would also benefit from (it).’” As a result, a traffic analysis included a 47,000-square-foot supermarket and 50,000 square feet for other retail.


One of the developers of Indian Creek said the town has done a good job of getting the infrastructure needed for future development. “They have the water and sewer capabilities in place,” said Steven MacCurry, one of the managing members of Mulberry Land Co. With the anticipated 1,500- to 2,500-squarefoot homes that will be in Indian Creek, “we’re trying to fill a niche in the market that’s between downtown Wilmington and the golf course communities in Brunswick County,” MacCurry said. In addition to planned homes, jobs are also on the way. In April, state and local officials announced that New Jersey-based Pacon Manufacturing Corp. intends to invest $37.6 million at the former U.S. Marine building on Quality Drive, which has been vacant since 2008. That’s when the U.S. Marine boatyard shut down, eliminating more than 250 jobs at the same time. Willis wondered how the town would pay its bills after that. But not long afterward, Lena Springs sprang up, a subdivision of more than 100 homes, behind Navassa’s town hall. “People started moving in, and they started paying taxes,” Willis said. “And so we didn’t have to worry too much about losing that tax base.” Another site where more of a tax base is expected, and more commercial services could come to Navassa, is the former Kerr-McGee Chemical Corp. site. Between 1936 and 1974,

the 245-acre Navassa site was used by Kerr-McGee and other companies for creosote-based wood treating. Tests have shown that the soil, sediment and groundwater on most of the property are contaminated with creosote-related chemicals, although the agencies involved say that the site contamination does not currently threaten people living or working near the site. Of the $23 million awarded for restoration projects on the Kerr-McGee site, $6 million will directly impact Navassa, Willis said. “I’m thinking about things like, ‘Now I can get some stormwater cleanup going on,’” he said. “I can get some nature trails and parks and that kind of stuff.” The projects could create cultural infrastructure within the town, Willis and Sutton said. “What we’re hoping to be able to do when I looked at this whole thing is to set up what would essentially be like a heritage trail along parts of the river, parts of these creeks,” Sutton said, a trail that would also tie in the new developments in the pipeline. “It would essentially be a 10-mile trail linking all the way from the north of town, all the way down to the Kerr-McGhee property and then west along Sturgeon Creek,” Sutton said. “Pairing that with some of these developments coming in, getting park space allotted through all of these things where we can incorporate different pieces of history throughout the trail, that’ll be a constant reminder of the community that has been here for hundreds of years.”

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RESTAURANT R O U ND U P

RESTAURANT ROUNDUP

FA M I L I A R

PLACES BY ELIZABETH WHITE

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OR LONGTIME CUSTOMERS WHO MOURNED THE CLOSING OF WRIGHTSVILLE BEACH’S LONGSTANDING CAUSEWAY CAFÉ, GOOD NEWS CAME QUICK. A year ago, Causeway announced that the 32-year-old waterside eatery would shut its doors with the retirement of owner Dave Monaghan. But not long after, Gulfstream Restaurant of Carolina Beach said it would take over the location, opening up its second spot. Open since July, and after a complete redo, Gulfstream is welcoming old and new customers alike. “Business is doing well, and everybody seems to love us so far,” says Zack Woodward, one of the owners in the new location. It was not an easy go at first, said Ed Thomas, another owner (both shown on opposite page). “The old building was completely gutted – all the way down to the electrical,” he said. Thomas’ wife, Kelli, added that the transformation was drastic. “It was stripped back to the cinder block walls, and everything is different,” she said. As far as design goes, the Wrightsville location is similar to the one in Carolina Beach except it is “lighter, brighter and all new,” Kelli Thomas said. “We tried to pull some elements of the color scheme and casual aesthetic of our other location,” she said. “The main difference is the Carolina Beach restaurant was designed with locals and fishermen in mind and a distinct boating theme. “But the Wrightsville Beach one is similar but definitely with a w i l m i n g t o n b i z m a g a z i n e . c o m

RESTAURANT ROUNDUP

fresher, more modern vibe.” Ed Thomas is a busy man these days since he also owns the Carolina Beach location as well. With one restaurant already established, he focuses a lot of his time on his new spot. “One of the challenges getting off the ground has been staffing,” he said. “We are really picky about who we hire and want the best.” Ed Thomas is well aware of the challenge he was up against in opening Gulfstream. He knows the Causeway was a beloved landmark for the Wrightsville Beach community and admits he is not trying to be “the old Causeway.” The owner is open to suggestions from customers while at the same time quick to point out the differences between Causeway and Gulfstream. For one thing, the actual seating space is bigger. “Causeway had 45 seats, and we have 70,” he said. Also, the new restaurant is open for lunch longer – until 3 p.m. And the Wrightsville Beach location is open for dinner just like the Carolina Beach restaurant. “We just have to keep educating our customers about that,” Ed Thomas said. “It is even a struggle at our old location. We are heavily associated as a breakfast and lunch spot.” He speaks excitedly about an addition that he thinks will be a major draw – especially in the summertime. A new screened-in outdoor patio is in the works that has an additional 25 seats. The owners at the Wrightsville Gulfstream are constantly evolving to adapt to the needs of its new location. For example, menu items that work at Carolina Beach don’t necessarily transfer over. “We were so used to the rice pudding and sweet potatoes being a big seller, and that is not the case at Wrightsville,”

Ed Thomas said. The menu features the expected breakfast diner fare with omelets, biscuits and pancakes. Fried flounder plays a starring role – over cheese grits for breakfast, in a sandwich for lunch and next to hushpuppies and coleslaw for a dinner platter. Looking towards the immediate future, Ed Thomas is evaluating the menu in hopes of anticipating what his Wrightsville Beach customers might like. “We may revise items on the menu this spring/summer,” he said. “For example, we want to make some breakfast selections more upto-date and modern, such as offering avocado toast.” There are also plans in the works to change up some side items. “We would like to offer more vegetarian side dishes,” he said. “Basically, we will be testing our market.” So far, Ed Thomas said he is happy with the stream of customers visiting the new location. “The feedback we are hearing on a daily basis is that our clientele are ecstatic with what we have done,” he said. “They are loving the renovations and overall atmosphere.” He estimates that about 70% of the old Causeway clientele comes through his doors. Adding to that group are customers who live closer to the Wrightsville location and are now pleased not to have to trek down to Carolina Beach from where they are for their Gulfstream fix. “My goal,” Ed Thomas said, “was to bring a bright, beachy space that is welcoming to all ages and most importantly, fit in with the Wrightsville community.” 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 2019

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THE TAKEAWAY

HEAVY METAL

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rea 51 Powder Coating owner Brett Lenz and his team work on a 10-foot staircase for the nonprofit A Safe Place’s new office. Lenz started welding in 2004 after deciding to take a class on it at CFCC, later opening his own business. “Our specialty with the fabrication is architectural metals,” he said about work at the shop on Old Wrightsboro Road near the airport. “We focus on the staircases, awnings, furniture … different details for home and commercial.” PHOTO BY ERIN COSTA

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

Planting roots

Lloyd Singleton on tree management for storm prep Page 9

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Closing up shop

Several national retailers are shuttering stores Page 10

Cheers for causes

The social side of philanthropy Page 19

Index

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

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

ILM’S NEXT FLIGHT PLAN

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

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

B ETSON DOWNTOWN

JAMES GOODNIGHT

2019

BOOK ON BUSINESS

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

See ILM, page 13

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