Staff photo by Cole Dittmer
Wells Fargo banker and Brand Identity Leadership Team member Alfred White discusses the options for economic development in the Lower Cape Fear during a meeting on Wednesday, Feb. 26.
Determining the type of businesses the Brand Identity Leadership Team would target in its economic development campaign was the primary goal for the group’s meeting Wednesday, Feb. 26.
Led by the University of North Carolina Wilmington, BILT’s goal is drawing more businesses to southeastern North Carolina.
Those businesses were tentatively identified as small- to medium-sized offering primarily knowledge-based jobs.
Roger Johnson, special assistant to the city manager for economic development, said the regional branding survey showed that the community believes quality of life is the primary asset attracting outside businesses to the area.
UNCW marketing department chair Dr. Thomas Porter listed the top factors both manufacturing firms and smaller businesses look for when moving to a new market, including highway accessibility, labor costs and availability of skilled laborers; and sites and buildings, access to suppliers and markets and availability of a knowledge-based workforce, respectively.
Quality of life surfaced only on the list of assets sought by medium to small businesses.
“Our goal is not to identify what Wilmington is but we are trying to identify what we have here to create a brand promise, promote it and attract people to that,” said BILT chairman and Wells Fargo banker Alfred White.
Opinion Lab general counsel and BILT member Kristen Shaheen mentioned the importance of knowing what other areas in North Carolina are doing to attract the technology industry.
“There are large technology companies setting up shop in the western part of the state and they are getting cheap labor and cheap land. So it may be to our benefit to figure out what is incentivizing them, because in my mind it is not as an attractive of an area as this is,” Shaheen said.
Blockade Runner Beach Resort general manager Nicolas Montoya also expressed a desire for BILT to responsibly plan for the growth it is working to achieve.
“It is extremely important that we have to be responsible in our economic growth and then be equally responsible with our branding,” Montoya said. “We don’t want to draw people here and then not have the support in place.”
Porter said he believed the infrastructural and community support would be there to handle the growth if BILT achieves its goals.
Before BILT commits to which group of businesses it wants to target, PPD associate director of corporate communications and public affairs Ned Glascock said he would like to wait on the results of the economic development study commissioned by New Hanover County in 2013.
Roger Johnson said he did not have an update on exactly when that study would be completed but other members of BILT also expressed a desire to wait on the study.
The next BILT meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, March 12.