CFEDC Presents: Pathways to Prosperity: Translating the Garner Report into Action Items, April 22nd

When: Tuesday April 22, 6 PM
Where: WHQR Galler, 254 N Front Street, Third Floor (downtown Wilmington)

The recent “Pathways to Prosperity” report presented by Garner Economics at the request of the New Hanover County Commissioners provided several recommendations for retooling our regional approach to economic development. The recommendations were summarized as part of a three part plan: 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). and Communicate / Market (i.e. appoint local business people as brand ambassadors).

Shortly after a draft copy of the report reached the public, a panel discussion at the Greater Wilmington Business Journal Power Breakfast event entitled “Special Sauce” briefly discussed highlights of the draft report in an effort to help identify a path forward for the region. Much of the discussion turned on the topic of the conflicting recommendations in the report to refine AND eliminate New Hanover County’s Special User Permit (SUP) ordinance. By the end of the discussion, however, it was clear that groups normally seen as competing agreed more often than not. As a result, panelists set themselves a challenge: set aside differences, seek out common interests and find ways to collaborate on reaching our regional economic development goals.

Cape Fear Economic Development Council is pleased to invite “Special Sauce” panelists to join a dialog about collaboration on achieving goals set out in the Pathways to Prosperity report:

Jim Bradshaw, Executive Director of Brunswick County Economic Development
Hal Kitchin, 2013 Chairman of the Greater Wilmington Chamber of Commerce Board
Scott Satterfield, CEO of Wilmington Business Development
Robin Spinks, Vice Chair of The Coalition for Economic Advancement
This event is part of the organization’s bimonthly “CFEDC Presents” series. The CFEDC is a non-profit organization working to fulfill the need for leadership in sustainable economic development and job creation in Wilmington and the Cape Fear region.

As always, attendance is free, and all are welcome. Join us at 6 PM for a beverage; and the discussion will begin by 6:15 PM.

CFEDC Presents: Parks That Work, February 25 @ 6PM, WHQR Gallery

A panel discussion about parks with the city, the counties, and park experts

When: Tuesday February 25, 6 PM
Where: WHQR Gallery, 254 N Front St in downtown Wilmington

Parks play such a vital role in most cities and regions that their benefits can sometimes go unnoticed. Parks are important settings for arts and cultural events. They help foster new and larger audiences for educational programs that help children and parents learn about ecology and the environment. Parks give tourists a place to relax and substantially increase tourism. Parks kick start the local economy by attracting residential and business development, raising property values, and increasing the surrounding tax base. Parks also improve public health with natural settings for exercise and relaxation. They also reduce the effects of the “urban heat island” in cities. Parks connect and revitalize neighborhoods by helping people engage with each other and with their communities.

But how do we pay for parks? What is the ideal combination of public and private investment into their creation and management? Could we/Should we form an entity that would attract and oversee investment in parks? How are benefits measured against costs? How can parks be designed to maximize these benefits? How can we make our parks work?

These are the kinds of questions we will discuss about parks in our region, with representatives from New Hanover County, Brunswick County, the City of Wilmington, and distinguished experts on urban development and land use.

The panel discussion will be held in the WHQR Gallery at 254 N. Front Street downtown. As always, the event will be preceded by a 6:00pm social during which attendees may talk about their vision for parks and network over drinks and refreshments. Panelists include WDI’s Ed Wolverton, City of Wilmington Urban Designer Allen Davis, Wilmington City Council Member Kevin O’Grady, New Hanover County Parks and Gardens Director Tara Duckworth and others.

List of Panelists:

  • Ed Wolverton, Executive Director, Wilmington Downtown Incorporated (WDI)

  • Richard Johnson, founder and entrepreneur

  • Allen Davis, City of Wilmington City Urban Designer

  • Kevin O’Grady, Wilmington City Council Member

  • Tara Duckworth – New Hanover County Parks and Garden Director

  • Ruth Haas, Cape Fear Museum Director

The panel will be moderated by CFEDC board member Lawrence S. Craige, and introduced by Mayor Bill Saffo.

Postscript: Retail that Reaches

The Cape Fear Economic Development Council held a meeting on November 19 about local retailers whose products have grown beyond this region to achieve national success. The Calico Room on Front Street was a great venue for:

  • The informal, varied panel discussion, expertly moderated by writer and local business owner Gwenyfar Rohler

  • A showcase of the panelists’ diverse products

  • Lots of follow-up discussion about this region as a hub for product entrepreneurs.


Our Presenters

Things We Heard


  • Panelists’ enterprises were various in size and in focus, but all were mindful about the entire production cycle: Where products are conceived, manufactured, assembled, and sold. All the panelists manufactured in the US and hired locally for as much of the product development and distribution as possible.

  • The panelists all said the ability to keep production local was valuable to them, their customers and their communities.

  • The panelists had small starts and good ideas, help from locals, modest funding at the beginning and growth that they had managed.

  • It is possible to build a national business starting in Wilmington

  • Opportunities abound:

    • Different sources of funding, such as Kickstarter

    • Partnerships (Kids Making It)

    • Contests and national recognition (Miriam O)

    • Niches and markets that arise suddenly (Topsee Tulip Frosting)

    • Marketing existing innovations (Dry Case) (Topsee Tulip Frosting)

    • Starting on completely new projects (Backslider)

    • Giving back (Half United) (Kids Making It)


CFEDC thanks you, invites you to follow up with any questions you may have, and hopes to see you at upcoming forums. 

CFEDC Presents: Jim Roberts, Executive Director of UNCW’s Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship – Sept 24

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

The UNCW Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship and the Cape Fear Economic Development Council partnered to host an educational networking event on September 24 at 6 p.m. The evening featured a presentation by Jim Roberts, the executive director of UNCW’s Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, as well as Q&A, networking opportunities, and light refreshments.

The CIE is committed to playing an integral role in fueling local entrepreneurial efforts and strengthening the regional economy. This event highlighted business topics like how to prepare for investor presentations, pursue private sector research grants and increase sales.

“We are continuously looking to bring workshops and statewide business resources to the Wilmington community to support innovation and grow entrepreneurial efforts,” said CIE Executive Director Jim Roberts. “By providing a forum like this, we can continue the conversation with community members about the needs of Wilmington’s startup economy and encourage business growth, which will in turn lead to more hiring.”

The CFEDC is a non-profit organization working to fulfill the need for leadership in sustainable economic development and job creation in Wilmington and the Cape Fear region. Through educational workshops, panel discussions, and community awareness and involvement, the CFEDC aims to enrich entrepreneurs and businesses to move into the new economy.

“UNCW, in particular the CIE, is a critical nexus for economic development efforts in our community,” said Lloyd Smith, Chairman of CFEDC. “It is a true university-driven initiative, and it is unique in that it primarily benefits the community and supports the missions of a wide range of organizations. Furthermore, the CIE is an excellent example of a common cause we can all rally around as a critical force in developing our regional economy.”

The event took place at the WHQR Gallery, located at 254 N. Front St., Suite 300, Wilmington, NC 28401. The evening began with refreshments and networking. A presentation and open discussion followed at 6:15 p.m (see video above)

Through a combination of the new facility and community outreach efforts, the CIE works to identify and nurture high-growth, high-impact companies and to accelerate the entrepreneurial ecosystem in southeastern North Carolina. It is located at 803 South College Road, at the south perimeter of the UNCW campus. As announced earlier this year, the CIE will house UNCW’s Small Business and Technology Development Center (SBTDC), future technology transfer operations and the Seahawk Innovation Fund. In addition to private knowledge based businesses, UNCW faculty and students will also be able to use the CIE as an accelerator space for academic and entrepreneurial pursuits. The CIE will officially open its doors on September 5.

For more information, please visit and follow @UNCW_CIE for the latest updates on the CIE.

CFEDC Presents: Implications of Tax Reform for Economic Development May 28, 2013 6-7:30 p.m.

WILMINGTON, N.C. (May 1, 2013) — How do the various tax reform proposals you have heard about in the news relate to our efforts at regional economic development? Taking the question to an extreme, if we were to completely eliminate taxes in NC, would we attract more business or could we destroy the conditions that make NC a great place to do business? Most would agree that some balance needs to be found. CFEDC believes that our community needs more frank and open discussion of the potential implications of tax reform proposals for economic development.

Join CFEDC at 6 PM on May 28 at the WHQR Gallery as Allan Freyer, Policy Analyst, and Alexandra Sirota, Director of the NC Budget and Tax Center provide their insight on the many and varied proposals before the legislature, their relationship to local and regional tax issues and their implications for economic development.

Refreshments will be served from 6-6:15 p.m. during a time for networking and open discussion.

The Budget and Tax Center conducts non-partisan analysis of state budget and tax policy and monitors economic conditions in the state. The Center produces timely and accessible research that contributes to policy discussions and public debate, with the goal of building a broader understanding of the role of policy in supporting economic opportunity for all. Learn more about the Budget and Tax Center at

The Cape Fear Economic Development Council is a non-profit organization working to fulfill the need for leadership in sustainable economic development and job creation in Wilmington and the Cape Fear region.