The world’s eyes will be on the ‘Greater Wilmington Area’ in 2017, what can be done to highlight what it offers?

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Eagle Point Golf Club will host the 2017 Wells Fargo Championship. Photo by Joe Catenacci.
Eagle Pointe Golf Club in Porters Neck will host the 2017 Wells Fargo Championship. (Photo by Joe Catenacci.)

A regional economic cooperative group has been formed to help market and promote the greater Wilmington area ahead of and during the 2017 Wells Fargo Championship golf tournament that is scheduled for May at Eagle Pointe Golf Club in Porters Neck.

“This is a great chance for Wilmington to show off and let investors know what we have to offer,” Wilmington City Councilman Paul Lawler said.

Lawler led the initiative to create the group.

“We just want to get everyone together and on the same page so we can promote economic development in our region,” he said.

That region includes not just the city of Wilmington and New Hanover County, but Brunswick and Pender counties as well. The group would combine government, business and community organizations from the three counties to market the area as not just a tourist or golf destination, but also as an attractive place to live, work and invest.

Kim Hufham, the president and CEO of the Wilmington and Beaches Convention and Visitors Bureau, said the area will be in the spotlight like it has never been before, with a worldwide television audience through The Golf Channel (the tournament is a PGA Tour-sanctioned event) and thousands of spectators coming from all over. According to Hufham, the convention bureau is already working on marketing initiatives and is working with Pender County’s tourism board on some things.

The Wilmington Chamber of Commerce is also taking a lead role in the regional group and will seek the support of other chambers in the tri-county area, according to a statement. Cape Fear Future, the Chamber’s flagship initiative, is providing $100,000 in seed money and will look to raise matching funds from both the public and the private sector for marketing campaigns.

“Our goal is to have all of our area economic development organizations work together to get potential prospects to take a look at this region, and then, if they choose to do so, pitch their own jurisdiction as the best place to locate the business,” Chamber Chairman Mitch Lamm said in the statement.

In addition to getting the area ready for the attention it will receive before and during the golf tournament, Lawler said cooperation between the counties is important for other matters as well.

“Long term, it shows ups what we can do to work together for other issues,” Lawler said. “Economic development, transportation, education – those are all regional issues that we can tackle together.”