Wilmington asks: How do other areas attract companies?

July 16, 2012 at 3:56 pm

The Star News has an article today comparing the economic development efforts of Wilmington with other more successful areas such as Roxboro and Charleston. In three major deals involving state grants through the Job Development Investment Grants program and the One North Carolina Fund, Roxboro has been able to attract companies to create 520 jobs and over $24 million in investment.

Wilmington, on the other hand, has not seen a major company invest in the area for four years now. In fact, it lost a few bids to South Carolina and Georgia. So what are Roxboro and Charleston doing that works?

There are two things that stood out from this article. For one thing, both of these places have economic development agencies that are either entirely government run, or are public-private partnerships. Person County’s  Development Commission is run by the county and they  have a full-time economic development position. Charleston’s Regional Development Alliance is a non-profit, but is funded by three county governments and five cities in addition to private funds. Wilmington Business Development, however, is supported mostly by private funds and contracts with municipal governments on projects.

Secondly, Person County and Charleston seem to recognize that businesses look at a range of factors in deciding where to expand or locate. Representatives from both areas said that collaboration and a strategy that involves other key areas such as education and workforce development were important parts of their economic development efforts.

Having local governments involved in the strategy and planning for economic development is clearly a key factor in success. These agencies and public-private partnerships can provide leadership in bringing together a range of stakeholders. A collaborative strategy that looks not only at business needs but also on the overall health of the community is important in for economic development. A place that attracts businesses is also a place that is a great place to live, work, raise a family, and participate in a healthy community.

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Entry filed under: Economic Development, Jobs & Employment. Tags: , .

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