Are we on the “Pathway to Prosperity”?

PathwaysTitlePageIf you have followed CFEDC and Regional Economic Development for any length of time, you would be aware that regional stakeholders paid Garner Economics to product the report Pathways to Prosperity in early 2014.  Within weeks of the release of the report, CFEDC held a public event and invited stakeholders to discuss strategies for investment and collaboration with an eye toward accomplishing the goals set out in the report.  The US economy has taken some turns, and the regional economy is arguably stronger than in early 2014; nonetheless, the Pathways to Prosperity report remains the current and data-driven analysis of the region’s strengths, weaknesses opportunities and threats.

In at least one way, the Pathways to Prosperity analysis and report is a mirror of our region.   Not surprisingly, analysts recommended continuing to invest in trying to attract industries that have already proven their success in our region.  Similarly, the report presents as one of the biggest opportunities for the region the large undeveloped tracts of land in the region’s industrial corridor along highway 421 North of Wilmington.Optimal-Targets

In another way, the report is aspirational, in that it talks about opportunities for growth in economic sectors that no one but economic development professionals and participants in that sector would be aware of.   These unrecognized trends could present opportunities for investment in workforce development, utilities, regulatory changes, etc.

So, we’ve been asking ourselves…what steps have been taken to capitalize on the insights stakeholders and the community paid Garner to provide us?  Have the recommendations been taken seriously, and have they been acted upon?

What do you think?


Webinar on Living Wage Opportunities for Businesses in North Carolina

Please join the North Carolina Business Council, the American Sustainable Business Council, the North Carolina Justice Center and Cape Fear EDC for a webinar on Living Wage Opportunities for Businesses in North Carolina on March 18th from 12:00 PM to 1:15 PM.

In North Carolina there are a number of organizations and communities who are considering both state and local level efforts to ensure that workers can earn enough to support their families.

In this webinar hosted by the NC Business Council and the NC Justice Center, we will share information about living wage issues and campaigns in North Carolina, practical tools for business leader engagement, and living wage success stories from Asheville, NC and across the country. Speakers from Just Economics in Asheville, NC and Businesses for a Fair Minimum Wage will present.

If you are a business owner looking to learn more about making living wages a part of your business, or if you are interested in supporting the emergence of local living wage work, this webinar is for you.


For more information contact Ethan Case of the North Carolina Business Council at  


CFEDC Presents: Retail That Reaches; Locally Made Products With National Reach – Nov 19, 6 PM at The Calico Room

CFEDC Presents: Retail That Reaches; Locally made products with national reach

A Panel Discussion Moderated by Gwenyfar Rohler of Encore Magazine, Old Books on Front Street and Buy Local ILM

When: Tuesday Nov 19, 6 PM
Where: The Calico Room, 107 S Front St in downtown Wilmington

If more people knew about the many success stories of companies right here in Wilmington making products with national reach, more people would wonder Why our region spends so much time and money trying to attract new industries, including some with big environmental costs. The Cape Fear Region has a long list of small, home grown consumer product companies that could use every advantage in growing their businesses.

“Silicon Valley East”, “Hollywood East” and other reputations are exciting to contemplate, but let’s not forget the myriad home-grown products and local manufacturers that are succeeding nationally and located right here in Wilmington.

Join us on Tuesday November 19 at 6PM for a panel discussion with local product developers and marketers about what makes Wilmington a great place to create products and base their operations. In a departure from our normal format, there will be an exhibition of locally made products with company representatives on hand to demonstrate and explain.

MC Gwenyfar Rohler will lead panelists and guests in a lively discussion of how to cultivate our local economy, how to foster growth, how to consume locally, promote nationally, and grow the already considerable success Wilmington has had nationally.

Among the panelists and presenters:

– Kids Making It – Jimmy Pierce –
– Topsy Tulip – Kristen Beckmeyer –
– Freaker USA – Zach Crain –
– Miriam Oerhlein (jeweler) –

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. A cash bar will be available throughout the event. Join us at 6 PM for a beverage; and the discussion will begin by 6:15 PM.

CFEDC Presents: Tunes in the Town – The business of music in the Cape Fear Region Aug 27 6-7:30 PM

Join us at Satellite Lounge (120 Greenfield Street, Wilmington) on the evening of August 27 as we examine the impact of music in the area, the successes of the local venues, attracting talent to this region and the incredible local artists who live, perform and produce here. Local music is an important economic driver and a key part of our economic identity–one that’s often overlooked.

We are pleased to have John Staton from the Star News as our moderator, with special guests panelists Beau Gunn, Program and Music Director of The Penguin; Chris Lee, Owner Pipeline Event Management; Richard Leder, Executive Director of the Brooklyn Arts Center; and James Ethan Clark, Carolina Music Awards Best Rock Male Artist.

Questions for the group welcome and wanted. Live performance by James Ethan Clark!


I Have Seen the One that Got Away, and She’s Wearing Camo

Military families are good business and missed connections for the region

In economic development circles, you never hear professionals talk about “the one that got away”. Except when the carefully crafted veil of secrecy around economic development efforts is broken by the occasional news reporter, missed economic development opportunities rarely see the light of day. I suppose that to reveal a missed economic development opportunity suggests failure at some level, and no one wants to admit failure in this business. On the other hand, as any entrepreneur will tell you, if you are not failing frequently and spectacularly, then you are probably not getting better at whatever you are doing – just existing. So let’s set aside our morbid fascination with who may be at fault, and focus on how we can fix it.

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