Southeastern North Carolina, an 18-county regional economic development group, has received approval for federal funding to review industrial sectors and industrial real estate in its territory, according to a recent announcement.
The organization, which includes the Wilmington area, has received approval for a $ 148,000 grant from the US Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration (EDA), officials said in a press release.
Southeastern North Carolina will contribute 20% to the tune 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 Southeast North Carolina website, last updated in 2011.
Southeastern North Carolina plans to launch the project on September 1, Southeast North Carolina President Steve Yost 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 include a component focused on the micro-region of Wilmington, which includes New Hanover, Pender, Brunswick and Columbus counties.
Columbus County was recently included in the organization’s strategic marketing plan for the micro-region of Wilmington, released earlier this year.
“Throughout the history of this organization, the Greater Wilmington region has always been an essential part of the South East region… It is one of our urban engine areas; the other urban engine being the Grand Fayetteville, ”said Yost.
The study will provide a more comprehensive overview of the business and industry sectors in the 18-county territory, Yost said.
“Health care is probably the most important [employment sectors] in southeastern North Carolina now, which it wasn’t 10 years ago, ”Yost said. “So that [study] will look at all the dynamics and trends that are happening across all industries, including those we are now targeting for marketing. “
The study’s findings will help the organization adjust, if necessary, any marketing targets for the entire 18-county region, or parts of the region, 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 last updated those plans 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 jobs announced, and has helped recruit 148 companies, the statement said.
Since the last pooled analysis in 2006, the focus of the group has increased from 11 to 18 counties. Yost said that was also before the group started looking at micro-regions.
“Updates are particularly important at this time 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.
His entire region has seen growth in the number of residents and employers, as well as new additions to regional assets and infrastructure, officials said.
“With the modern economy being what it is, we need to make sure 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 focusing on industrial sector analysis, Yost said, plans are to hire a site selection consultant to help review the region’s industrial real estate inventory to identify strengths, gaps and the needs of 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 the employment growth of small businesses and startups.
“We are grateful that the US Department of Commerce agrees that successful regional economic development begins with a thorough assessment of strengths and opportunities,” Yost said in the statement.
The assessment is to incorporate the latest data into a “credible framework” on how the region’s economy fits into domestic and global trade trends, officials added in the statement.
“We look forward to involving our county, state, academic and private partners in this important effort, which will inform the region’s recruiting strategies for the next five to ten years,” said Yost.