As the Wilmington area continues to grow, Port City Daily follows the businesses – large and small – that help support and define the region. From mom-and-pop coffee-shops to massive infrastructure projects, these are the most-read business stories of 2016.
Bitty and Beau’s Coffee
Wilmington’s own Bitty and Beau’s Coffee had a big inaugural year. Amy and Ben Wright’s coffee shop, named for their children, is dedicated to providing job opportunities for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Shortly after opening as Beau’s Coffee in late January, owners Amy and Ben Wright got a call from the Rachel Ray show and later in the year they were featured on the show.
After changing their name – to Bitty and Beau’s Coffee – and moving to a new, larger location, the Wrights got more good news: Ray would be making Bitty and Beau’s house blend the “official house coffee” of her daytime show.
The Port of Wilmington
The Port of Wilmington had a boisterous year, overcoming a major setback to end the year on a high note. A $16 million project to expand the Port’s turning basin, which began in February and was completed in early August, quickly brought the largest-ever ship to visit Wilmington. The project, along with others to increase cold storage and crane capacity, are geared at keeping Wilmington’s port up to date with the larger post-Panamex ships traveling through the recently enlarged Panama canal. Shortly afterwards, the Hanjin corporation of South Korea – owner of the largest ship to visit Wilmington and the region’s pipeline to Asian markets – declared bankruptcy, isolating the region from Asia and other Pacific markets.
In early November, Maersk – in association with the Mediterranean Shipping Company – opened up a new route to Asian markets that included Wilmington. In December, the Enviva facility came online after a year of construction and preparation.
New Grocery Stores
Wilmington welcomed several new grocery stores in 2016, with more expected for 2017. At the beginning of the year, plans for German grocery chains ALDI and LIDL where both in the final stages of approval (The ALDI site has broken ground on College Rd. near 17th St.) In early August, Publix opened the first of two planned locations in Pine Valley (the second location, in Ogden, is planned to open in 2017).
A homegrown entry in ever-expanding field of grocery stores is Farmin’ on Front, the retail outpost for the local Carolina Farmin’ company. Many remember when the original Carolina Farmin’ shuttered in 2013, leading to a long search for a new location. After setting up their main production facility, Carolina Farmin’ set their sights on downtown, eventually deciding on a location on Front St. Farmin’ on Front opened in November, bringing much needed services to the downtown area which had been previously without a major grocery store.