2021 Wilmington Regional Economic Scorecard

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WILMINGTON REGIONAL ECONOMIC

SCORECARD

Produced for the community by: Cape Fear Future: An initiative of the Wilmington Chamber of Commerce

20 21


Introduction

About the Scorecard

Key Takeaways

The Regional Economic Development Scorecard was created in 2015 by the Wilmington Chamber’s flagship initiative, Cape Fear Future, to provide a baseline to develop goals that will encourage economic progress. The Scorecard is an objective depiction of where our Region stands against peer cities that compete with us for skilled workers, new businesses, and entrepreneurs. What was an annual Scorecard in the early years has recently been developed only every other year. This fifth edition contains data from key areas of economic development: human capital, innovation, entrepreneurship, quality of place and traded sector. The research, conducted by Dr. Adam Jones and UNC Wilmington’s Swain Center, reflects data collected from Brunswick, New Hanover, and Pender counties.

The Wilmington area continues to grow with reasonably strong income growth and strong demand supporting real estate values. Although income and GDP growth have continued over the last decade, GDP per capita growth has been sluggish, indicating the region’s economic growth is being fueled by population growth rather than increased productivity. There are greenshoots of hope, though, as the region is showing early signs of growing out of a tourism- and student-led economy to one of a modern service-led economy. Early signs include increased knowledge worker employment, increasing business services employment, and continued strength in human capital. With over 80% of employment now in services nationwide, talent and an entrepreneurial ecosystem will drive growth going forward.

About the Wilmington Chamber of Commerce

1. Quality of Place: With an economy becoming more dependent on

The Wilmington Chamber is distinguished as the first and longest continually operating chamber of commerce in North Carolina. Our chamber maintains a 154-year legacy of protecting and strengthening the Wilmington business community and helping businesses grow and thrive. We connect our over 900 members to services, customers and resources they need to successfully employ almost 50,000 people in Southeastern North Carolina.

How Do We Define the “Wilmington Region?” Historically, the Wilmington MSA has been comprised of New Hanover, Pender, and Brunswick counties. In 2012, the federal Office of Management & Budget removed Brunswick County from the Wilmington MSA and realigned it as part of the Myrtle Beach MSA. We expect Brunswick County’s northeastern population growth will justify its return to the Wilmington MSA where we believe it belongs. For that reason, it was determined that, where feasible, Brunswick County should be included in the Wilmington Region data. Much of the data reported in this Scorecard is available on a county level and aggregated by us to the three-county “Wilmington Region.” Some data is only available at the MSA level, such as Gross Regional Product. Therefore, Brunswick County’s contribution to the Wilmington Region’s GRP is determined through estimation. In some instances, the notation “Wilmington MSA” indicates data is only reported on the MSA level and no Brunswick County estimate is available.

2 | Wilmington Regional Economic Scorecard

services and talent, Wilmington’s Quality of Place remains a strong asset for the region.

2. Pay Growth: Average annual pay growth improved in 2020 but only because the numbers are skewed by the loss of lower paying service jobs during the pandemic. Slow growth in GDP per capita reflects the region’s overweight reliance on lower paying service jobs.

3. Human Capital: The Wilmington Region continues to perform well in terms of educational attainment but has historically lacked in opportunities for knowledge work. While there is work to be done, the last few years have seen an uptick in knowledge worker employment.

4. Knowledge Workers: While knowledge worker employment remains an area of concern, the region is showing signs of improvement.

5. Business Services Employment: While still lagging the national average, business services employment has made progress in recent years as the region’s business support infrastructure is building out and better able to support entrepreneurs in the region.


Message from the CEO

About Cape Fear Future

Since our last Scorecard was published in 2018, New Hanover County residents have faced an onslaught of natural disasters in the form of multiple hurricanes and a pandemic. The landfall of Hurricane Florence in September 2018 included high winds and flooding that caused extensive damage in southeastern North Carolina. Businesses’ impacts were unpredictable, ranging from temporary loss of productivity to complete closure due to severe infrastructure damage. Hurricane Dorian in 2019 and Hurricane Isaias in 2020 downed more trees, knocked out power, and flooded some areas of our community. These back-toback storms inspired our local leaders to invest in our community’s resiliency to ensure broadband, power, and transportation infrastructure can withstand future storms. The data in this publication will reflect the repercussions of these hurricanes, with some impacts of the COVID-19 virus included as well. 2020 was an unprecedented year, with a pandemic, economic uncertainty, and racial unrest impacting everyone in some way or another. These unimaginable challenges have forced businesses to adapt, reinvent, and reimagine the future of work. As we shift from pandemic to endemic and learn to live with COVID-19, nearly every industry is still facing a critical shortage of workers and supplies to meet demand. The ripple effects of the pandemic will be felt across nearly every sector for many years to come. Our community’s resilience has been thoroughly tested in recent years, but our municipal and county-level governments’ conservative fiscal management has ensured critical services continue without serious interruption. Locally, ARP funds have been redistributed quickly compared to other areas of North Carolina to help our community rebound faster. The Scorecard is intended to be objective and fact-based, not a cherry-picking of data to paint a positive picture. As always, we take pride in saying we are prepared and resilient. We rebuild and improve when pushed. We are Cape Fear Strong. Natalie English CEO, Cape Fear Future Foundation

The Chamber’s flagship initiative, Cape Fear Future (CFF), began as an idea developed at the Wilmington Chamber’s 2006 Retreat to further develop our knowledge sector economy to promote economic development and ensure future prosperity in the region. CFF aims to help the Region keep stride with globalization and remain competitive with other cities vying for talent and workforce. In 2017, CFF launched its most ambitious project to date, creating a regional marketing initiative to highlight the area as a great place to do business. CFF garnered the support of area governments and economic development organizations for the branding concept: Choose Cape Fear. The campaign began in May 2017 and included the creation of a microsite, media outreach, print and digital advertising, events surrounding the PGA Wells Fargo Championship, and much more. Media outreach led to a feature article in Site Selection magazine, a listing in Business Xpansion Journal, and significant local news coverage. Choose Cape Fear has also helped bring together the economic development organizations in the Region to share thoughts and develop a more cohesive message. Choose Cape Fear is currently focusing on the creation of videos featuring area business leaders to supplement business recruitment efforts, and is developing a social media campaign — I Choose Cape Fear — to build local interest and promote the strength of our business community. Publication of the Regional Economic Scorecard continues to be one of CFF’s most noteworthy projects and, with this fourth edition, is now providing trends in the selected metrics. Business, governmental, community and academic leaders use the unbiased data to help focus efforts to address our challenges and take advantage of strengths.

Wilmington Regional Economic Scorecard | 3


Our Comparative Locations For the First Annual Regional Economic Scorecard, a task force of business and community leaders selected seven metropolitan areas based on population size and a mix of economic assets comparable to the Wilmington Region to act as our peer cities. Charleston and Raleigh were selected as aspirational cities due to their exceptional growth and ability to maintain quality of place. The same group of peer and aspirational cities has been used for each Scorecard publication.

Comparative

Aspirational

Asheville, NC

Chattanooga, TN

Mobile, AL

Myrtle Beach, SC

Charleston, SC

higher education, health care, arts and culture, tourism, entrepreneurial environment

higher education, tourism, arts and culture, and historic, redeveloped waterfront

seaport, transportation, coastal location, manufacturing, foreign investment presence

tourism, entertainment

tourism, strong manufacturing base, seaport, higher education, coastal location, working river

Pensacola, FL

Roanoke, VA

Savannah, GA

Raleigh, NC

tourism, arts and culture, business growth, seaport, coastal location

health care, tech research, high education

seaport, working river, military, creative economy, tourism industry, coastal location

higher education, technology, pharmaceutical and telecommunications industries

How to Read the Data

Model for Economic Prosperity

The report examines many indicators of regional economic competitiveness. Each indicator is compared to the national average. For example, an index of 110 for our Region means that our Region is performing 10% above the U.S. average. Likewise, an index of 90 means our Region is performing 10% below the U.S. average.

Economic Development Outcome • Economic Output • Employment • Earnings & Income

The report follows the Model for Economic Prosperity Pyramid developed by Clemson University professors David Barkley and Mark Henry and research assistant Rebekka Dudensing, which illustrates the building blocks of economic success. The Economic Scorecard assesses the economic development outcomes and competitiveness inputs from the top and bottom of the pyramid model. The data presented in this Scorecard reveal trends over time in the regional economy rather than immediate changes. Because of the time lag in data availability, this 2021 report highlights data captured through 2020.

4 | Wilmington Regional Economic Scorecard

Environment for Development • Industrial Composition • Physical Infrastructure • Social, Cultural & Institutional Environment Competitiveness Inputs • Human Capital • Innovative Activity • Entrepreneurial Environment • Quality of Place


Economic Development Outcomes The Indicators Gross Regional Product Growth, 2010-2019 Gross regional product is the economic value produced in a region; it is the value of all final goods and services produced within a region in a given time period net of inputs produced in other regions. Raleigh 75.9% Charleston 66.3% Myrtle Beach 55.9% Savannah 53.8% Asheville 49.7% Wilmington Area 44.4% Chattanooga 44.0% Pensacola 41.9% Roanoke 26.2% Mobile 24.0% Source: Bureau of Economic Analysis

Gross Regional Product Per Capita Growth, 2010-2019 Here, the economic value created in a region is scaled by the region’s population. This is a measure of productivity of a region and allows for comparisons with different-sized regions. Raleigh 43.7% Charleston 37.9% Asheville 37.4% Savannah 36.0% Chattanooga 34.8% Pensacola 27.0% Mobile 24.3% Roanoke 24.1% Wilmington Area 19.3% Myrtle Beach 18.6% Source: Bureau of Economic Analysis

Employment Growth, 2010-2019 A measurement of the change in the amount of employment in a region.

Raleigh Charleston Myrtle Beach Wilmington Area Savannah Asheville Pensacola Chattanooga Mobile Roanoke

38.9% 37.1% 37.0% 32.9% 32.7% 32.5% 31.8% 29.6% 29.1% 27.3% Source: Bureau of Economic Analysis

Per Capita Income Growth, 2010-2019

Average Annual Pay Growth, 2010-2020

Measures a region’s purchasing power on a per capita basis. Per capita income is calculated as total income from all sources for a region divided by its number of residents.

Measures the growth of the average annual wage and/or salary. Growth in average annual pay provides a perspective on how labor-related income has changed during the period.

Charleston Asheville Myrtle Beach Wilmington Area Raleigh Chattanooga Pensacola Roanoke Savannah Mobile

Raleigh Charleston Myrtle Beach Asheville Wilmington Area Chattanooga Pensacola Roanoke Mobile Savannah

45.9% 41.9% 35.4% 35.3% 35.1% 33.0% 28.3% 28.2% 27.5% 25.8% Source: Bureau of Economic Analysis

16.2% 16.2% 16.0% 14.0% 13.3% 13.1% 12.9% 12.9% 12.3% 10.4% Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Wilmington Regional Economic Scorecard | 5


Human Capital Index

The importance: Economies grow when a workforce is ready. High growth businesses invest in employee potential because it is directly correlated to business prosperity and greater economic development. Without employees who are equipped to tackle new processes and technology, businesses struggle to keep pace. Regions like ours with a strong entrepreneurial ecosystem require smart, eager, talented workers who have the energy and skills to bring innovative ideas to life.

98

101

49+25+224 95

Savannah

Roanoke & Asheville

101

Charleston

93

Chattanooga

89

Pensacola

86

Mobile

116

81

Raleigh

Myrtle Beach

Wilmington Region

The Trend: 2 point gain since 2010

75

125

The Rankings for Each Indicator KNOWLEDGE WORKERS, 2019

HIGH SCHOOL GRADUATES, 2019

COLLEGE GRADUATES, 2019

EMPLOYMENT RATE, 2020

Ratio of local to national percentage of population (ages 25-64) employed in occupations requiring specialized knowledge, such as management, finance, math, science, engineering, health care, etc.

Ratio of local to national percentage of adult population (ages 25-64) with at least a high school diploma.

Ratio of local to national percentage of adult population (ages 25-64) with a Bachelor’s degree or higher.

Ratio of local to national percentage of labor force that is actively employed.

1. Raleigh....................................................110.2 2. Roanoke............................................... 100.0 3. Wilmington.....................................94.2 4. Charleston.............................................. 87.1 5. Chattanooga........................................ 86.1 6. Savannah................................................83.3 7. Asheville.................................................83.2 8. Mobile......................................................75.4 9. Pensacola................................................71.4 10. Myrtle Beach.........................................53.5

1. Raleigh...................................................103.9 2. Wilmington Region..................... 103.5 3. Roanoke................................................102.9 4. Charleston............................................102.8 5. Pensacola.............................................102.6 6. Savannah..............................................102.0 7. Asheville................................................101.8 8. Myrtle Beach...................................... 100.3 9. Chattanooga...................................... 100.1 10. Mobile..................................................... 98.3

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics/US Census Bureau

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Source: US Census Bureau

1. Raleigh.................................................... 147.2 2. Charleston............................................ 109.9 3. Asheville............................................... 105.8 4. Wilmington Region..................... 105.3 5. Savannah................................................94.6 6. Roanoke..................................................86.6 7. Chattanooga......................................... 85.1 8. Pensacola................................................ 81.8 9. Mobile....................................................... 71.4 10. Myrtle Beach.........................................70.9

Source: US Census Bureau

1. Roanoke................................................102.3 2. Charleston............................................102.2 3. Pensacola.............................................102.1 4. Raleigh....................................................101.8 5. Chattanooga........................................101.7 6. Savannah...............................................101.2 7. Wilmington Region.....................100.5 8. Asheville.............................................. 100.2 9. Mobile................................................... 100.1 10. Myrtle...................................................... 99.3

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics


A Closer Look In the spring of 2020, The Wilmington Chamber of Commerce, Cape Fear Collective, and RTI International partnered to survey businesses across industries in southeastern North Carolina to identify the areas of highest growth and skills needed in the Cape Fear region. The survey was comprehensive and applied to a wide range of industry sectors. Survey data can be used to inform training and education partners of current and future workforce needs as well as to understand both short and long-term hiring needs. Timely and regionspecific data is critical for policymakers in workforce, education, and economic development roles. The projections for job growth vary greatly across industries, offering early evidence that the recovery from this economic crisis would be uneven. Companies in Life Science, IT and Software, Manufacturing, and Logistics have the most optimistic outlook on hiring in the future, while those in healthcare project the most hires in the next three years. Employers across industries report having the most difficulty hiring candidates who demonstrate responsibility

“I’m in the business of people and and self-discipline, critical thinking and the ability to take initiative. When asked which specific skills they value, employers across sectors ranked communication skills at or near the top. The demands of today’s economy require a strategic alignment between classroom and career that supports students in their transition to the workforce. Workforce development programs are crucial to the development and maintenance of a highly skilled workforce, and a smart policy choice for regions hoping to grow new companies.

culture. Wilmington is a great place when it comes to both, because the talent in our region continues to level up, and cultural advances attract working transplants who are looking for quality of life. Our community will need to be innovative in the coming years in three critical ways: 1- steering our youth to focused talent pipelines, 2- upskilling our workforce to support economic development, and 3- investing in cultural attractions that will appeal

Progress

Potential

• Cape Fear Community College (CFCC) created 21 industry-specific trades and certification programs to fill critical talent gaps in trucking, electrical line work, healthcare technicians and construction. • Glow Academy received a $500,000 grant from the SunTrust Foundation to build a new makerspace that includes a science lab, woodshop, computer lab and an art room that will be located on GLOW’s 31-acre campus.

• New Hanover County is partnering with a local employer, the Wilmington Chamber of Commerce, New Hanover County Schools, and Cape Fear Community College on an apprenticeship program to develop a workforce pipeline from our local high schools to professional readiness and successful careers. • Cape Fear Community College has received a nearly $4 million grant to ready prisoners for the workforce. The three-year grant will help support education and training for at least 400 inmates in correctional institutions in New Hanover and Pender counties, as well as pre- and post-release case management.

to a diverse workforce. Advancing our economy and workforce requires complex initiatives that require a high level of collaboration. The Chamber of Commerce is the organization to facilitate that collaboration with key stakeholders in our community and they are poised to take on that role.”

Lisa Leath President of Leath HR Group and Founder of WorkTok

Wilmington Regional Economic Scorecard | 7


Innovative Activity Index

The importance: One of the major benefits of innovation is its contribution to economic growth. Simply put, innovation can lead to higher productivity, meaning that the same input generates a greater output. As productivity rises, more goods and services are produced – in other words, the economy grows.

93

50+14+927 76

Charleston

36

33

Pensacola

163

Mobile

Raleigh

26

Savannah Chattanooga & Roanoke

24

15

Asheville

Wilmington Region

11

The Trend: 36 point gain since 2010

Myrtle Beach

0

200

The Rankings for Each Indicator EMPLOYMENT IN TECHNICAL POSITIONS, 2020

NIH/NSF/NEA FUNDING, 2020

PATENTS ISSUED, 2019

SCIENCE-RELATED GRADUATE STUDENTS, 2019

Ratio of local to national percentage of employment in computer, science and engineering occupations.

Ratio of local to national funding from NIH, NSF and NEA per local job.

Ratio of local to national number of patents issued in an area per 10,000 workers.

Ratio of local to national graduate students in health science, science and engineering per 10,000 residents.

1. Raleigh...................................................164.1 2. Charleston............................................103.4 3. Wilmington.................................... 90.8 4. Savannah............................................... 68.0 5. Pensacola.............................................. 66.5 6. Chattanooga........................................ 65.1 7. Mobile..................................................... 64.0 8. Roanoke...................................................61.9 9. Asheville.................................................58.2 10. Myrtle Beach.........................................33.5

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

1. Wilmington Region.....................224.9 2. Charleston............................................144.5 3. Raleigh.....................................................28.5 4. Mobile...................................................... 27.6 5. Savannah................................................ 10.4 6. Pensacola................................................. 3.8 7. Chattanooga........................................... 3.5 8. Roanoke..................................................... 1.0 9. Asheville...................................................0.6 10. Myrtle Beach...........................................0.4

Source: National Institutes of Health, National Science Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts

8 | Wilmington Regional Economic Scorecard

1. Raleigh.................................................. 245.2 2. Roanoke...................................................31.9 3. Savannah................................................22.3 4. Charleston...............................................16.9 5. Chattanooga............................................7.4 6. Myrtle Beach........................................... 3.6 7. Wilmington Region......................... 3.6 8. Pensacola................................................. 2.3 9. Asheville................................................... 2.2 10. Mobile........................................................0.7

Source: U.S. Patent & Trademark Office, Bureau of Labor Statistics

1. Raleigh................................................... 214.7 2. Pensacola............................................... 57.7 3. Wilmington.....................................50.8 4. Mobile..................................................... 50.5 5. Charleston..............................................39.0 6. Chattanooga..........................................21.3 7. Myrtle......................................................... 6.5 8. Savannah.................................................. 3.7 9. Asheville...................................................0.0 10. Roanoke....................................................0.0

Source: NSF Survey of Graduate Students and Postdocs in Science and Engineering


A Closer Look Fintech is a catch-all term for any technology used to digitize, streamline, or disrupt traditional financial services. Fintech platforms enable run-of-the-mill tasks like depositing checks, moving money among accounts, paying bills, or applying for loans. As more financial institutions begin to appreciate the significance of digital transformation occurring in their industry, companies like nCino and Live Oak Bank are well positioned to continue growing and innovating. nCino’s public IPO in 2020 was a milestone opportunity for the company that will allow them to invest in growth and strengthen their ability to focus on their core mission and vision, which is to transform the global financial services industry through innovation, reputation, and speed.

As the biggest SBA 7(a) lender in the country, Live Oak Bank has become a well-oiled loan-making machine that offers a variety of small business financing options, a solid online experience, competitive rates, and nationwide availability. A venture capital firm co-founded in 2018 by Live Oak Bancshares chairman and CEO Chip Mahan received major investor commitments in 2020. Canapi Ventures, which invests in early- to growth-stage financial technology companies, has been promised $545 million from a robust institutional investor base known as the Canapi Alliance. The Alliance is composed of more than 35 banks and strategic investors looking for attractive investments and great partnerships in the fintech ecosystem.

Progress

Potential

• Vantaca plans to more than double its workforce as it launches a nearly $5 million expansion. • Grover Gaming, one of the top 200 fastest growing companies in the country according to Inc. Magazine, opened a new game design studio in downtown Wilmington in 2021. • Suzy opens a Technology Hub led by Chief Technology Officer William Mansfield. • Trial Management Associates (TMA) was selected as one of 10 sites nationwide for Phase 2 trials of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine, an early frontrunner in the pursuit of a vaccine. Following a successful Phase 2 rollout, Moderna again selected TMA as a site for Phase 3 trials. • UNCW is one of only three UNC System schools among the Top 100 Public National Universities for 2022, according to a new list of “Best Colleges 2022” from U.S. News & World Report.

• The launch of the Alliance for a Blue Economy (All Blue), allbluenc.org, which is focused on attracting, advising, and launching businesses in five Blue Economy sectors: ocean engineering and marine robotics; sustainable aquaculture and fisheries; marine biotechnology; tourism, recreation and hospitality; and coastal conservation and resilience. All Blue has ambitious goals that include bringing Blue Economy investment capital to Southeastern North Carolina and promoting the region as a Blue Economy innovation hub. • UNCW to Offer New Programs in Cybersecurity and Intelligent Systems Engineering to expand STEM and critical workforce programs.

“Suzy is a people-first organization. We’re focused on creating the best workplace culture and work-life balance possible. To support a business that is growing faster than ever, we’re focused on attracting and retaining the best talent. We’ve found that offering a hybrid work experience has led to remarkable growth and employee satisfaction, and with Wilmington’s talented workforce and expectational quality of life, it’s the ideal home for Suzy’s technology hub. Once you’re here, you don’t want to leave.”

William Mansfield CTO of Suzy

Wilmington Regional Economic Scorecard | 9


Entrepreneurial Environment Index

The importance: In cities and towns across the country, fostering entrepreneurship has become a key component to most economic development strategies. And while different types of entrepreneurs have different needs, there is a common framework of conditions and supports that are particularly conducive to a thriving entrepreneurial culture.

106

Charleston & Myrtle Beach

50+33+314

105

Raleigh

95

103

Chattanooga

Asheville

10

8

93

Pensacola

90

Mobile

89

Savannah

83

Roanoke

Wilmington Region

The Trend: 4 point gain since 2010

75

125

The Rankings for Each Indicator CONCENTRATION OF SMALL TO MID-SIZE BUSINESSES, 2019

Local ratio of small to mid-size firms per 1,000 employees relative to the national ratio.

1. Myrtle Beach....................................... 139.7 2. Wilmington Area......................... 138.1 3. Asheville............................................... 126.7 4. Pensacola.............................................. 116.4 5. Charleston............................................. 114.1 6. Raleigh...................................................105.7 7. Savannah............................................... 98.6 8. Mobile..................................................... 94.4 9. Roanoke...................................................91.5 10. Chattanooga........................................ 84.7

TOTAL ESTABLISHMENTS, 2019

PROPRIETORS’ INCOME SHARE, 2019

BUSINESS SERVICES, 2020

Local ratio of total establishments per 1,000 employees relative to the national reserve.

Business owners’ income as a percentage of the total income for the area relative to the national percentage.

Percentage of local business services employment to total employment relative to the national percentage.

1. Myrtle Beach....................................... 139.0 2. Wilmington Area.......................... 137.7 3. Asheville............................................... 126.4 4. Pensacola.............................................. 116.1 5. Charleston............................................. 113.8 6. Raleigh...................................................105.5 7. Savannah............................................... 98.4 8. Mobile..................................................... 94.4 9. Roanoke...................................................91.3 10. Chattanooga........................................ 84.8

Source: US Census Bureau

10 | Wilmington Regional Economic Scorecard

Source: US Census Bureau

1. Chattanooga....................................... 133.8 2. Charleston..............................................95.7 3. Asheville.................................................92.3 4. Myrtle Beach.........................................82.4 5. Mobile.......................................................81.1 6. Wilmington Region.......................70.9 7. Raleigh.................................................... 69.6 8. Savannah............................................... 68.5 9. Roanoke..................................................59.3 10. Pensacola...............................................53.5

Source: Bureau of Economic Analysis

1. Raleigh................................................... 139.4 2. Charleston............................................102.0 3. Roanoke...................................................91.4 4. Mobile..................................................... 90.4 5. Savannah................................................ 87.0 6. Pensacola...............................................85.7 7. Wilmington Region.......................84.6 8. Chattanooga.........................................74.7 9. Asheville................................................. 67.2 10. Myrtle Beach........................................ 64.1

Source: US Cluster Mapping


A Closer Look In 2020, Wilmington, NC was ranked in the Global Top 100 Emerging Ecosystems by Startup Genome, a world-leading policy advisory and research organization for governments and public-private partnerships committed to accelerating the success of their startup ecosystems. In 2021, we have retained our global ranking as the #91 top emerging entrepreneurial ecosystem in the world. Our recent success in adding small and mid-size businesses, total number of establishments, and business services can be attributed to the collaborative improvements to our economic development ecosystem. Starting, managing and growing a business is always challenging and sometimes confusing to entrepreneurs and small business owners. Fortunately, there are many professional and no-cost resources available in the greater Wilmington area that can help your small business succeed. The Small Business Coalition is a collaboration of government-supported, not-for-profit organizations whose mission is to help entrepreneurs create and grow successful small businesses in Southeastern North Carolina.

Small Business Coalition partners collaborate regularly, leveraging internal and community resources to boost awareness of the information and advisory resources available to assist small businesses in Southeastern North Carolina. Throughout the year, the coalition jointly promotes partner events and organizes its own networking events to benefit the business community.

Progress

Potential

• Genesis Block provides business development services to over 50 minority- and women-owned companies in the Wilmington area and also operates a co-working space and event venue. Genesis Block resident companies collectively posted a third quarter revenue total of $721,871, representing a dramatic increase from the previous quarter total of $201,345. • In partnership with the Small Business Coalition, investments and updates were made to the Choose Cape Fear website to include more entrepreneurial and small business resources.

• New Hanover County has dedicated General Fund dollars to invest in a Small Business Retention, Expansion & Recruitment initiative operated through the Wilmington Chamber of Commerce. • Several new coworking spaces have opened throughout the county including Blue Mind Coworking, CoWorx, and Common Desk. • Venture funds are actively reviewing the progress of our startup businesses. • Cloudwyze plans a major expansion to bring over $50M of broadband infrastructure to underserved communities of Eastern North Carolina.

“I remember when Next Glass was just as idea back in 2012, and since then a lot has changed in Wilmington to help businesses succeed. A strong entrepreneurial ecosystem has evolved that includes investors, mentors, support organizations with services and regular meetups, local government backers, the university and community college, and more. Add to this the city’s successful exits (nCino, Live Oak Bank, Next Glass), the many high-potential startups spanning multiple industries, and all the new small businesses that are critical to Wilmington’s success, and it’s easy to become optimistic and excited about our city’s future. But the efforts that make me most optimistic and proud are those that ensure Wilmington’s growth and success becomes growth and success for ALL its residents. Organizations like Cape Fear Collective, Genesis Block, GLOW, TRU Colors, and others understand that for Wilmington to truly reach its potential, everyone must be part of it. This is a difficult and complex goal, but many are committed to moving this from aspiration to realty, and in doing so, taking Wilmington from very good to amazing!”

George Taylor CEO of TRU Colors

Wilmington Regional Economic Scorecard | 11


Quality of Place Index

The importance: To attract and retain a talented workforce, communities need good schools, safe, livable communities and attractive public amenities. It’s possible that increased comfort with full-remote work may lead some workers to move from major urban centers, taking advantage of a more attractive quality of life. Workers and businesses still continue to explore the full scope of remote work in a post-COVID economy.

104

Charleston

114

50+31+415

98

93

Chattanooga

94

Savannah

Pensacola

89

Mobile

Myrtle Beach

117

121

Raleigh

129

Asheville

138

Wilmington Region

Roanoke

The Trend: 9 point gain since 2010

50

150

The Rankings for Each Indicator CULTURE AND RECREATION, 2019

RUSH HOUR TRAVEL TIMES, 2019

CRIME RATE, 2019

AIR QUALITY, 2020

HEALTH CARE ACCESS, 2019

Percent of employment in the arts, entertainment and recreation relative to the national percentage.

Average commute time of workers leaving home between 6:00-8:30 AM relative to the national average (a higher index means less travel time).

Violent crimes per capita relative to the national crime rate (a higher index means less crime).

Percentage of days with air quality measured as “good” relative to the national average.

Number of health care practitioner and technician positions per capita relative to the national average.

1. Myrtle Beach........................169.4 2. Asheville................................156.2 3. Wilmington Region......... 117.6 4. Raleigh..................................... 112.0 5. Charleston.............................. 99.3 6. Pensacola............................... 88.2 7. Savannah................................ 84.8 8. Chattanooga......................... 73.9 9. Roanoke...................................67.6 10. Mobile.......................................57.8 Source: Bureau of Economic Analysis

1. Asheville................................124 2. Myrtle Beach.........................116 3. Wilmington Region......... 115 4. Chattanooga.........................113 5. Mobile......................................113 6. Pensacola............................... 112 7. Roanoke................................ 109 8. Savannah...............................107 9. Charleston.............................. 99 10. Raleigh..................................... 98

Source: US Census Bureau

12 | Wilmington Regional Economic Scorecard

1. Raleigh.................................... 212.5 2. Roanoke.................................153.5 3. Wilmington Region......... 119.8 4. Asheville.................................116.0 5. Myrtle Beach........................102.6 6. Savannah................................ 95.0 7. Charleston.............................. 92.1 8. Pensacola............................... 89.5 9. Chattanooga......................... 69.8 10. Mobile...................................... 69.6

1. Wilmington MSA.............. 116.8 2. Myrtle Beach.........................116.8 3. Roanoke...................................111.0 4. Asheville............................... 108.6 5. Charleston............................ 108.6 6. Savannah................................ 98.0 7. Raleigh.....................................94.0 8. Chattanooga......................... 93.7 9. Mobile...................................... 89.5 10. Pensacola............................... 86.1

1. Roanoke................................ 247.3 2. Asheville................................142.1 3. Charleston............................. 122.7 4. Wilmington MSA.............. 117.4 5. Chattanooga.........................116.0 6. Mobile......................................114.8 7. Savannah.............................. 103.3 8. Pensacola...............................94.7 9. Raleigh...................................... 91.8 10. Myrtle Beach......................... 65.9

Source: Federal Bureau of Investigation/ICPSR

Source: US Environmental Protection Agency

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Census Bureau


A Closer Look When it comes to Quality of Place, it is hard to top Wilmington for its physical attributes which include a pedestrian-friendly Riverwalk and walkable downtown historic district, a thriving midtown with all the amenities of a working city, and close proximity to beautiful island beaches. These physical characteristics are enhanced by excellent health care facilities and educational institutions, a full-service airport, vibrant arts and cultural scenes, outstanding parks, excellent restaurants, and a mild climate that affords year-round outdoor recreation. With all this going for us, it is no wonder that Wilmington, N.C. was the #1 city for inbound migration during the pandemic, according to a 2020 United Van Lines study. Most people who relocate are visitors first to experience Quality of Place first-hand

before they make their move. In fact, Quality of Place was the main reason why New Hanover County’s tourism fared much better during the pandemic than larger urban destinations because of our beaches, riverfront, parks and wide open spaces. Physical attributes and amenities aside, Quality of Place also encompasses those intangible qualities that define the ‘essence’ or ‘vibe’ of a place. Wilmington scores high in this category as well, with a vibrant, creative, diverse, and hospitable community that welcomes its residents and visitors with unique and authentic experiences from the river to the sea. All these attributes combine to set Wilmington apart as a desirable place to live, work, and play. It’s what lures film and television productions to Wilmington. It’s what inspires leisure travelers, meeting planners, and event organizers to choose Wilmington. It’s what creates a suitable environment for businesses to thrive and attract talent.

Progress

Potential

• Thanks to City of Wilmington voters supporting a 2016 bond, Live Oak Bank Pavilion at Riverfront Park was opened along the Cape Fear River this year. The 7,200-person venue welcomed sold-out crowds through the summer and fall of 2021 thanks to partnership with live entertainment company Live Nation. • ILM has outperformed peer airports, and the nation, in keeping airlines’ attention during the pandemic. ILM continues to explore new nonstop markets to meet demand from leisure travelers. • The American Lung Association has named Wilmington one of the Cleanest U.S. Cities for Ozone Air Pollution, one of the Top 25 Cleanest U.S. Cities for Year-round Particle Pollution, and one of the Cleanest U.S. Cities for Short-term Particle Pollution. • USA Today readers have consistently ranked Wilmington as one of the best riverfront cities in the United States. • Wilmington ranks in the top 10 greenest cities in the U.S. for renters.

• Public private partnerships such as Project Grace will create state of the art facilities for the downtown library and Cape Fear Museum as well as adding the necessary additional office and residential units to accommodate continued job growth. • Wilmington City Council approved the second phase of a multi-use path that will improve bicycle travel on the River to Sea trail, which is an 11-mile on-andoff-road bicycle route that connects downtown Wilmington to Wrightsville Beach. • Historic transfer of ownership from New Hanover Regional Medical Center to Novant Health will lead to improved access to healthcare across southeastern North Carolina. As a result of the hospital sale, the New Hanover Community Endowment will oversee the $1.2 billion in proceeds that will generate roughly $50 million every year to be reinvested back into New Hanover County forever.

“Wilmington is really beginning to hit its stride in creating quality of life amenities. The Cape Fear region is fortunate to be surrounded by desirable natural resources with our river, beaches and creeks. For too long, those resources were relied upon to serve as the primary sources of quality of space. A well planned and programmed system of parks is an indispensable part of a city’s strategy to attract and retain knowledge employees, families and young people. Over the last two decades, a collective belief in that strategy has led to significant investment, first in sports-related tourism infrastructure followed by performing arts venues. The investment has positively stimulated the local economy and garnered national attention to our area. The challenge ahead is the sustainability of our public spaces. Our local labor force must continue to grow and be strengthened and that starts with intelligent investment in education, in and of itself a pillar in the construct of quality of life.“

Amy Beatty Director of Community Services for the City of Wilmington

Wilmington Regional Economic Scorecard | 13


Traded Sector Employment Index

A strong traded sector provides regions with new income from outside the community, increasing overall local wealth and providing jobs that typically pay higher wages than jobs in local sectors. To help grow and expand the local economy, the community and economy must expand traded sector employment while maintaining a balance of local sector employment.

54

46

Pensacola

55

45

Asheville

Myrtle Beach

74

Charleston

81

Raleigh

2

82

Point gain from last year

Roanoke

85

Chattanooga & Savannah

91

Mobile

Wilmington Region

The Trend: -17 point loss since 2010

0

Year-over-year, the MSA saw a gain of 4.2% in the absolute number of traded sector jobs, reversing a long-term trend of traded-sector employment declines. Relative to the national average, our Region held steady. Among peer regions, Chattanooga and Raleigh saw the biggest expansions in traded sector employment. Three peer cities saw a decline.

Local Sector

up of industries whose goods and services are traded outside the region, meaning they bring revenue in from outside the region.

50+26+123

Some business activity occurs within the community, where businesses sell products and services primarily to the local market. For instance, a resident buying car repair services or dinner at a local restaurant. Other business activity occurs from outside the community and is part of the traded sector. A pharmaceutical firm in Boston purchasing CRO services with a Wilmington firm or a Raleigh resident renting a beach house here are examples of the traded sector.

The importance: The traded sector is made

Traded Sector

100

Top traded sectors for Wilmington MSA 2018 Business Services

Distribution and Electronic Commerce

6,795

2,901

Hospitality and Tourism

2,288

Communications Equipment and Services

1,682

Education and Knowledge Creation 1,149 Financial Services

905

Marketing, Design, and Publishing

902

Upstream Chemical Products

811

Transportation and Logistics

668

Water Transportation

459 Source: US Cluster Mapping

14 | Wilmington Regional Economic Scorecard


A Closer Look Year-over-year the Wilmington MSA saw a gain of 4.2% in the absolute number of traded sector jobs, following an increase of 6.6% the prior year. The recent gains reverse a longer-term trend of traded sector employment declines. Relative to the national average, the MSA made some slight improvements over the year with the index increasing by two points but still well down from the beginning of the study period. Among peer regions, Savannah and Roanoke saw the largest increases in traded sector employment while four peer cities saw a decline. Manufacturing jobs are most identifiable as traded sector jobs. However, the traded sector also includes consulting, engineering, finance, software development and technology development. Traded sector employment tends to pay better than local industries and is a valuable source of income for the region. In order for firms in the region to compete on a national scale, they must be able to attract the best talent, which means not only Quality of Place requirements but nationally competitive salaries as well.

The Wilmington region continues to lag behind our peers and aspirational cities partially because of our location and economic mix. As a coastal community with a relatively large university, the local economy is reliant upon visitors and students to bring business to the region rather than business selling outside the region. However, the students and visitors tend to support the “local” rather than traded sector businesses. Since the first Scorecard in 2015, a renewed focus on the traded sector and strategic investments in infrastructure, recruitment efforts and collaborative expansion programs with local businesses is beginning to bear fruit. In addition to traditional large business recruitment, The Chamber of Commerce has also begun initiatives to support the expansion of small businesses. Growth in the traded sector is more than large business recruitment, it includes small business development as well.

Progress

Potential

• Duke Energy and New Hanover County has made progress on a multi-year infrastructure improvement project that will dampen the threat of extreme weather to our critical infrastructure. • New Hanover County and Cape Fear Public Utility Authority leaders celebrated the completion of a major economic development effort to provide water and sewer infrastructure along the U.S. 421.

• In 2019, Blue Clay Business Park was selected for Duke Energy’s Site Readiness Program. The site is 4.5 miles from I-40, adjacent to a CSX rail line and within easy access to ILM and the Port of Wilmington. An additional $3.6 million in investments from New Hanover County will extend water and sewer infrastructure to the 120-acre business park, which will further position Wilmington for job creation and investment opportunities. • Edgewater Ventures and CIL Capital LLC recently announced a combined $120 million in investment to the New Hanover County Airport Authority’s business park through two separate projects. • The North Carolina Ports Authority continues to make progress on a $200 million capital improvements plan to improve access to 14,000+ TEU container ships. In 2020, NC Ports completed phase two of its turning basin expansion project, opened 2,600 feet of container berth space, and completed an air draft improvement project. Additionally, the Ports Authority welcomed three neo-Panamax cranes designed to work ultra-large container vessels.

“Wilmington has been home to nCino for more than a decade and we’ve built a special company with extraordinary people. I have always believed that if you create a culture where people feel valued, respected and empowered, they will do things that truly amaze you. These are the foundational principles on which we started nCino, and have been a key part of our success and growth. We’re immensely proud of our product – the nCino Bank Operating System® and the ways in which we’re transforming the financial services industry on a global basis. Even as we’ve expanded and opened many other offices around the world, Wilmington will always be our home and we are proud to continue investing back into the city that has given us so much.”

Pierre Naudé CEO of nCino

Wilmington Regional Economic Scorecard | 15


Wilmington Regional Economic Scorecard Committee

Produced for the community by:

Natalie English, Wilmington Chamber of Commerce

Cape Fear Future

Kim Hufham, Wilmington and Beaches CVB Dr. Adam Jones, UNCW Hal Kitchin, McGuireWoods LLP Lisa Leath, Leath HR Group Megan Mullins, Wilmington Chamber of Commerce Jennifer Rigby, New Hanover County

An initiative of the Wilmington Chamber of Commerce One Estell Lee Place | Wilmington, NC 28401 910.762.2611 | www.wilmingtonchamber.org

Beth Schrader, New Hanover County

Regional Economic Scorecard Data Collection Cape Fear Future Board Members

Dr. Adam Jones, UNCW Cameron School of Business

Charlie Mattox, BB&T, Chairman Natalie English, Wilmington Chamber of Commerce Michele Holbrook, Corning Incorporated

Designed and published by

Rob Kaiser, Greater Wilmington Business Journal Hal Kitchin, McGuireWoods LLP Tee Nunnelee, Coastal Beverage Co. Ted Shipley, Live Oak Bank

www.visualinfonomicsgroup.com | 843.849.3143

A note on data revisions: Economic data is updated regularly as additional information becomes available. Preliminary estimates are updated and existing numbers are revised. The Scorecard uses the most recent numbers available and thus data is subject to revision. Numbers presented in the Scorecard represent the latest vintage of each series and may not be directly comparable with numbers from previous Scorecards.

View the Economic Scorecard online at www.wilmingtonchamber.org