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Southeast North Carolina, an 18-county regional economic development group, has received approval for federal funding to review industrial sectors and industrial real estate within its territory, according to a recent announcement.

The organization, which includes the Wilmington area, has received approval for a $148,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration (EDA), officials said in a news release.

Southeastern North Carolina will contribute 20% of $37,000 of the total project cost of $185,000.

The EDA grant project, called Southeast Regional Industrial Sector Analysis, has four components: an industrial sector analysis; an industrial site analysis; an incubator development strategy; and efforts to refine the group’s regional marketing and revamp the Southeastern North Carolina website, last updated in 2011.

Southeast North Carolina plans to launch the project Sept. 1, Steve Yost, president of Southeast North Carolina, said this week. It is expected to be completed in September 2020.

Part of the overall industrial sector assessment of the organization’s 18 counties could have a component to focus on the Wilmington micro-region, which includes New Hanover, Pender, Brunswick and Columbus counties.

Columbus County was recently included in the Wilmington Micro-Area Strategic Marketing Plan released earlier this year.

“Throughout the history of this organization, the Greater Wilmington area has always been a core feature of the Southeast region…It’s one of our urban engines; the other urban driver being Greater Fayetteville,” Yost said.

The study will provide a more comprehensive overview of commercial and industrial sectors in the 18-county territory, Yost said.

“Health care is probably the biggest [employment sectors] in southeastern North Carolina now, which was not the case 10 years ago,” Yost said. “So that [study] is going to look at all the dynamics and trends happening across all industries, including the ones we’re now targeting for marketing. »

Findings from the study will help the organization adjust any marketing focus for the entire 18-county region, or parts of the region, if necessary, he added.

Southeastern North Carolina, which was founded in 1994 and is currently celebrating its 25th anniversary, launched its first industry cluster strategy in 1999 and updated those plans most recently in 2006.

Since its inception, the organization has helped generate more than $2.1 billion in announced capital investments, as well as more than 14,000 new announced jobs and helped recruit 148 companies, according to the statement.

Since the last cluster analysis in 2006, the concentration of the cluster has increased from 11 to 18 counties. Yost said this was also before the group started looking at micro-regions.

“Updates are especially important right now because of the dramatic changes that have been made to the region’s footprint in recent years,” said Joe Melvin, Business Development Manager for Southeast North Carolina. , in the press release.

Its entire region has seen growth in the number of residents and employers, as well as new additions to regional assets and infrastructure, officials said.

“Modern economics being what it is, we need to ensure that we base all of our assumptions on the most accurate, up-to-date and relevant information available,” Melvin added in the statement.

In addition to a focus on industrial sector analysis, Yost said, there are plans to hire a site selection consultant to help review the area’s industrial real estate inventory to identify strengths, gaps and needs with sites and properties.

Another element of the four-part project is to bring together policies and best practices for an incubator development strategy to support job growth in small businesses and startups.

“We are grateful that the U.S. Department of Commerce recognizes that successful regional economic development begins with a thorough assessment of assets and opportunities,” Yost said in the statement.

The assessment involves integrating the latest data into a “credible framework” on how the region’s economy fits in with domestic and global trade trends, officials added in the statement.

“We look forward to engaging our county, state, university and private partners in this important effort, which will inform the region’s recruitment strategies for the next five to 10 years,” Yost said.