Wilmington economic developers formalize agreement on cross-county collaborative opportunities

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The MOU serves as a collaborative framework for regional economic development services and programs designed to bring new companies, jobs and economic investment to Brunswick, New Hanover and Pender counties. (File photo)

WILMINGTON — A formal agreement between Brunswick County and Wilmington Business Development will improve the coordination of economic development services across county and municipal lines. Leaders of both entities recently signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) that outlines collaboration and joint initiatives.

“Job creation opportunities don’t stop at county boundaries, and neither should economic development efforts whose benefits are spread across multiple counties,” said Dickson McLean, chairman of Wilmington Business Development, which leads economic development programs for New Hanover and Pender counties and the City of Wilmington.

The MOU serves as a framework for regional economic development services and programs that are designed to bring new companies, jobs and economic investment to Brunswick, New Hanover and Pender counties.

“This agreement illustrates a commitment by both parties to build in earnest on the informal partnership we’ve long had to work together in instances where it makes sense to do so,” McLean said.

Brunswick County Commission Chairman Frank Williams said the MOU reflects the long-standing excellent relationship between Brunswick County and WBD.

“We have always regarded WBD as one of our key local partners in pursuing economic development initiatives.” Williams said.

In 2015, Brunswick County and WBD worked closely to organize a familiarization tour of the three counties by national site selection consultants and corporate real estate professionals.

The “fam tour,” along with the call for increased collaboration, grew from recommendations by Atlanta-based Garner Economics LLC, which analyzed the region’s economic potential in 2014. The Southeastern Partnership, the regional marketing entity, the footprint of which includes Brunswick, New Hanover and Pender counties, also participated in the hosting the fam tour.

“I am pleased that the longstanding productive relationship between Wilmington Business Development and Brunswick County Economic Development is further strengthened by both boards approving this agreement,” said Ann Hardy, Brunswick County Manager. “We are positioned to facilitate investment in our region, and the strength of this collaboration will enhance those opportunities for the entire region.”

Cross-county cooperation has been part of regional job growth strategies in recent decades.

“Over the years, there have always been opportunities to communicate, compare notes and support each other,” said Mike Hargett, director of economic development and planning for Brunswick County. “The MOU provides a road map for continuing to pursue opportunities that bring mutual benefits.”

The MOU seeks to forge coordination in strategic planning, marketing and promotion, lead generation, client development and project management.

“At the same time, the agreement doesn’t interfere with either of us pursuing certain opportunities alone or with other partners when that route makes better sense,” Hargett said.

The MOU does not call on either party to commit funds or staff resources to the partnership.

“The memo creates a platform for collaboration that will be useful in maximizing resources and showcasing the seamlessness of the region’s economic assets and vision as a world-class business destination,” said Scott Satterfield, chief executive officer of Wilmington Business Development. “We’ve partnered together in the past on projects, but this is the first time we’ve written up the expectations both sides share.”

Founded in 1956, Wilmington Business Development oversees business recruitment, expansion and retention for the City of Wilmington, New Hanover County and Pender County. A private, non-profit organization, WBD supports members, partners and allies through an array of technical expertise, leadership resources and value-added business services. For additional information, visit www.wilmingtonbusinessdevelopment.com.

Brunswick County Economic Development is an office of county government that provides companies with site selection and expansion management services. It offers information, coordinates site visits, acts as liaison between government agencies and businesses, and supports the success of corporate relocation and expansion projects. Additional information may be found at http://www.brunswicked.com.

-Content provided by Scott Satterfield, Wilmington Business Development

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