County officials hope to show off the region’s selling points to Wells Fargo Championship attendees

"We've be working with the PGA to showcase the quality of life we have and now its time to take the next step to make sure the information was ready to highlight New Hanover County as place of interest to expand or relocate a business."

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WILMINGTON – Local officials continue to work on ways to make sure whatever economic benefits the area reaps from the upcoming Wells Fargo Championship, Wilmington’s largest sporting event ever, extends beyond the first week of May. On Monday, the New Hanover County Board of Commissioners held a public hearing regarding the release of $75,000 to get a marketing plan in place.

When first getting the news of the PGA Tour’s one-year relocation to the Port City, the Wilmington Chamber of Commerce proposed a strategy to articulate the many assets the region offers businesses to expand or relocate here. The plan is designed to attract business prospects during and after the event. Cape Fear Future – the flagship program of the chamber – then put up $100,000 to help lay groundwork for the marketing initiative.

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

L-R: Wells Fargo Regional President Kendall Alley, Wells Fargo Championship Executive Director Kym Hougham, Eagle Point Golf Club President Bobby Long, Wilmington Chamber of Commerce President Connie Majure-Rhett.
L-R: Wells Fargo Regional President Kendall Alley, Wells Fargo Championship Executive Director Kym Hougham, Eagle Point Golf Club President Bobby Long, Wilmington Chamber of Commerce President Connie Majure-Rhett. (File photo)

Raleigh-based, Eckel & Vaughan, a strategic communications and advertising firm, has since been hired to develop the course of action.

During Monday’s hearing, county commissioners agreed to spend $25,000 in FY 16 -17 and $50,000 in FY 17 -18 to help fund the plan. The source of funding will come from the County Economic Development Reserve.

“Charlie Mattox and Albert Eckel brought forth an excellent presentation Monday and the county thinks they are filling an important gap to help highlight and fill an opportunity that we have with the Wells Fargo Championship,” said New Hanover County Commissioner Rob Zapple. “We’ve met with them on several occasions to make sure everyone was headed in the right direction.  The PGA Tour attracts a lot of high level executives and recognizing that we wanted to make sure our story for business was being told the right way.”

The City of Wilmington also heard from members of the chamber during its agenda briefing on Monday morning. City leaders are being asked to contribute $25,000 to the regional marketing plan.

Eagle Point Golf Club will host the 2017 Wells Fargo Championship. Photo by Joe Catenacci.
Eagle Point Golf Club will host the 2017 Wells Fargo Championship. Photo by Joe Catenacci.

The marketing strategy is largely honing in on the week long event, May 1-7, at Eagle Point Golf Club in Porters Neck, according to Scott Czechlewski, Communications Director at the Greater Wilmington Chamber of Commerce.

“Eckel & Vaughan have a basic idea of what they’re going to do, but a lot of what we can do after the tournament will be based on funding,” said Czechlewski. “They are working on the messaging right now. There will be a micro-website, producing videos on the site promoting the region. We’ll have an expo tent set up at the championship.

“We’d like the initiative to extend past the tournament,” he said. “There could be a digital advertising component, with the idea of national print advertising in trade publications, but that’s contingent on the funding.”

With more than 20,000 people expected to be in attendance each day of the tournament, The Wells Fargo Championship estimates the weeklong event will have a $40-$60 million impact on the Wilmington area.

“We’ve be working with the PGA to showcase the quality of life we have and now its time to take the next step to make sure the information was ready to highlight New Hanover County as place of interest to expand or relocate a business,” Zapple added. “The county wants to be apart of it. Information being developed will continue beyond May 7 when the Wells Fargo tournament ends.”