Now that’s grounded: Alliance for Cape Fear Trees

Cape Fear Economic Development Council Director Paul Pascarosa took part in a tree-planting last week as a member of the newly formed Alliance for Cape Fear Trees, which has as its mission the actual planting of trees in places that need them.

Pascarosa and other committee members met at Greenfield Lake to plant six red-bud trees donated by the garden club in an effort to improve the urban forest. Pascarosa, who’s served the community in a number of ways as a resident here, really favors this his hands-on, tangible approach to making a difference in the area.

See the following news item from the Wilmington Star News for more information and to become involved.

http://wilmingtonstarnews.nc.newsmemory.com/publink.php?shareid=05e038eb9

A CFEDC Statement Regarding the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Portfolio Standard (REPS) law in North Carolina

Clean Energy: Another Tool in the Toolkit for Economic Development

In under a decade the clean energy industry in North Carolina has grown from individual entrepreneurs to small businesses to multi-state enterprises. This homegrown industry wants to keep its roots in our state and export their goods and services to other Southeast states who have enacted policies to replicate NC’s successes.

North Carolina’s Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Portfolio Standard (REPS) law enacted in 2007, is allowing market competition and choice. Because of the monopoly granted to utilities, policies like the REPS law are the closest thing we have to a free market. Maintaining these policies, which help attract investment and spur innovation while providing jobs and long-term economic opportunities in our state, is of utmost importance. Since 2008, nearly $3 billion has been invested in renewable energy projects across our state, including about two-thirds built in North Carolina’s rural communities, which also results in significant property taxrevenues for local governments. (Source: RTI/Scott Madden, 2015)

Clean energy policies, such as the REPS, are promoting an environment for job creation and industry success that benefits all North Carolinians and unfortunately, a few policy makers are encouraging a rollback of this law, while most are celebrating its success.

NC’s Clean Energy Investments Are Working. (Literally.)

  • Clean energy development supported 44,549 annual full-time equivalents (FTEs), equivalent to one person working full time for a year, from 2007 to 2014.
  • Approximately $3,472.8 million was invested in clean energy development in North Carolina between 2007 and 2014, which was supported, in part, by the state government at an estimated cost of $195.6 million. Leadership in sustainable economic development and job creation | capefearedc.org
  • Clean energy investments were nearly 18 times larger than the state incentives for them.
  • Renewable energy project investment in 2014 was $651.9 million, or nearly 38 times the $17.3 million investment observed in 2007. (Source: RTI/Scott Madden, 2015).

Every Corner of the State is Benefiting, Especially Rural Areas

  • Catawba, Davidson, Duplin, Person, Robeson, and Wayne Counties experienced the greatest amount of investment—more than $100 million each.
  • Beaufort, Cabarrus, Columbus, Cleveland, Wake, Nash, Chatham, Harnett, Montgomery, Lenoir, and Davie Counties each experienced between $50 million and $100 million in investment between 2007 and 2014. (Source: RTI/Scott Madden, 2015).

Clean Energy Policies Mean Jobs, Reliable Electricity and Cost Savings – Now and in the Future

  • The net present value of the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Portfolio Standard savings compared to a conventional portfolio equals $651 million. The analysis finds the greatest annual savings occur in 2029, when the portfolio provides $287 million in savings.
  • Since the start of the REPS in 2007 through the year 2029, rates are forecasted to be lower than they would have been had the state continued to only use existing, conventional generation sources. (Source: RTI/Scott Madden, 2015).

The CFEDC supports policies that improve economic development and job growth in the Cape Fear region and North Carolina, and the results are clear that the REPS is doing exactly that and should be maintained.

Wilmington, NC second best place to start a business in the U.S.!

A new report finds that Wilmington, NC is the second best place to start a business in the United States.
Among the features of our region were a relatively small population, a high volume of businesses, a thriving downtown and business resources:

A growing population, strong tourism industry and proximity to the beach make this port city ideal for businesses. Wilmington has about 15 businesses for every 100 people — the highest volume of businesses in our top 10. Nearly 900 of those businesses are downtown, including Flytrap Brewing, a craft brewery, and Fuzzy Peach, a frozen yogurt chain started by three friends who met at the University of North Carolina-Wilmington. Businesses can join the Wilmington Chamber of Commerce to get listed in its business directory, attend training seminars and go to biannual business-to-business networking expos.

This announcement is an extraordinary achievement and once again highlights the exceptional nature and quality of life in Wilmington, North Carolina. To capitalize on this in attracting entrepreneurs to the community, the CFEDC is dedicated to helping entrepreneurs find the necessary resources and associates for carrying forward their development activities. For more information, contact us here!

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CFEDC Meet and Greet: “Cocktails and Community”

When: Thursday October 9, 2014 from 6 PM
Where: Satellite Bar and Lounge, 120 Greenfield St, Wilmington, NC 28401

Enjoy a social visit with the Board and friends of Cape Fear Economic Development Council. We will break with tradition, as we do about once a year, by hosting this social occasion solely for the purpose of meeting more like minded people and hearing input and ideas. Cape Fear EDC is in the process of planning our agenda for the coming year. We would enjoy meeting you and being inspired by your bright new insights. Several seats are open on the CFEDC board, and nominations are welcome.

There will be no speakers, no panelists and there is no particular agenda — the kind of meeting we could all use more of.

Cash bar will be available. No need to RSVP, but if you would socialize this event and invite your friends, share the Event on Facebook!

Postscript: Pathways to Prosperity

The Cape Fear Economic Development Council convened a meeting of economic development leaders in Wilmington to continue a discussion they’d had on stage at the “Special Sauce” Power Breakfast put on by the Wilmington Business Journal in March, but with a particular focus on execution.

The purpose of the event was to translate the Garner Economics “Pathways to Prosperity” report into action items that regional economic development (ED) groups can work on together. The report, which was prepared at the request of the New Hanover County Commissioners, represents a three part plan for retooling our regional approach to economic development
Improve execution (i.e. create a county staff role with responsibility for economic development)
Improve product (i.e. set aside sustainable funding for county economic development efforts)
Communicate / market (i.e. appoint local business people as brand ambassadors).

Panelists were asked to identify up to three priorities from the report that their organization views as consistent with its vision/mission, achievable, and an opportunity for collaboration with other regional ED organizations.

The Pathways report development process began with comprehensive information gathering, including focus groups. This process revealed:
A public perception that there are too many economic development organizations (unclear who is responsible for certain functions),
A lack of regional cooperation and coordination
An atypical level of ignorance among stakeholders and the public in our region about the ED process.

CFEDC believes these problems need to be addressed before the public and stakeholders will be able to digest the report recommendations. Out of the 21 report recommendations, panelists identified the following as opportunities for collaboration:
Three county alliance
Support small and new businesses
Fund economic development infrastructure
Be involved in trade shows, site consultants for the three county area
Promote manufacturing
Create more infrastructure for potential sites (421, e.g.)
Modify the Special Use Permit (SUP)
Build infrastructure for potential sites
Education about the economic development process
Broadening to a regional focus
Survey of target industries
Leadership from the private sector / business leadership (e.g., junior city council)
Coordination among different organizations
Broad coalition of venture funding for the region
Capitalizing on “place”
Mitigating vitriol and promoting cooperation

Moderator Rachel Lewis Hilburn helped the panelists and audience arrive at a consensus on the three most actionable priorities:

Three county marketing alliance
Leadership, especially in the private sector
Infrastructure for potential sites

Item 1, the three county marketing alliance, is complicated by the facts that 1) New Hanover and Pender counties have no accountable office of economic development, and outsource this function to a private company, Wilmington Business Development, and 2) Brunswick and Pender counties have very different assets and are already heavily invested in their own ED / marketing strategy by funding a full time ED group that is fully accountable to county government.

Item 2, private sector leadership, is expressed as a response to an identified public sector leadership vacuum. Pathways recommends that the business sector step up and lead the charge. CFEDC agrees.

Item 3, infrastructure for sites, clearly needs more discussion, and may very well be where New Hanover has to make a very tough decision. Some panelists implied that they interpret the Pathways recommendation to expand infrastructure to potential sites as an endorsement of continuing New Hanover County’s old industrial recruitment approach. CFEDC believes it is important for the public to be aware that the Pathways report recommends many actions and several very specific industrial targets, but it but does not recommend doubling down on intensive industry. Specific industry targets are named in the report, and none are intensive. In this context, the word industry should bring to mind biotech, pharma, aircraft, medical devices and so on rather than limestone mines and smokestacks.

In this time of scarce resources, we need to make difficult decisions about resource allocation. The public and stakeholders should educate themselves (read at least the summary slides Jay Garner presented about the report at http://www.nhcgov.com/Pages/FeaturedContent.aspx?key=A.) so that they are able to hold our elected officials and public servants accountable. Otherwise, we could see absolutely no resources allocated to the report recommendations, while the report is misrepresented as a call to expand intensive (polluting / natural resource hungry) industries instead of the ones that careful study reveals as the best fit and the most likely to pay off.

Audience questions during the Q&A period of this event revealed that the public is concerned about preserving quality of place, since it has been an important part of attracting and retaining many residents and business. This public focus on quality of place and quality of life may have been perceived by Garner and by some stakeholders as ignorance about the process, when in reality this is a perfectly rational focus for the public. We cannot expect the public to be experts in the process, but it is reasonable for the public to demand that the process be consistent with their vision of the region now and in the future.