Consultant to present economic analysis

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Eight months after announcing a joint effort to refine their economic development efforts, New Hanover County commissioners and Wilmington City Council will receive a key component of that effort—an analysis of the area’s economic allure—in a special meeting today at 2 p.m.

The meeting, to be held at the New Hanover County Historic Courthouse, will see Jay Garner of Atlanta-based consulting firm Garner Economics present the analysis, titled “Pathways to Prosperity: New Hanover County’s Plan for Jobs and Investment,” along with an accompanying “Competitive Realities Report” that laid the groundwork for the analysis.

The presentation comes at a time when economic development has been emphasized in local panel discussions and prioritized by the city and the county. Released last month in draft form, the report identifies assets and challenges facing the Cape Fear region, and details several recommendations, including the deletion of the county’s debated special-use permit (SUP), which is currently undergoing procedural revisions.

Last week, in anticipation of the report’s presentation, County Manager Chris Coudriet recommended holding off on presenting those revisions to commissioners for another two months, to give the board time to review them in light of the report’s recommendations, among other considerations.

County releases draft economic analysis; special-use permit deletion advised

While the report recommends eliminating the permit, describing the county’s requirements as too broad when compared to other counties in the state, it also recommends modifying the county’s table of permitted uses, creating a county department specific to economic development, and establishing a three-county “marketing alliance” that includes Brunswick County, which is currently not represented by recruitment group Wilmington Business Development.

Other recommendations include developing a formal incentive strategy for the area, providing support for development of small and new businesses, and developing a real estate portfolio of available sites for industrial, commercial and office development, among many others.

The full report can be viewed online. Today’s presentation will also be streamed on the county’s website and broadcast on its TV station, NHCTV, for anyone unable to attend the meeting. NHCTV is available on Time Warner Channel 13/16.10 and Charter Channel 5.

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Jonathan Spiers is a reporter for Port City Daily. He can be reached at (910) 772-6313 or jonathan.s@portcitydaily.com. On Twitter: @jrspiers

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