Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Cape Fear Future Commission Formed

Cape Fear Future will receive greater input and support from influential business and government leaders who will serve on the newly formed Cape Fear Future Commission. The role of the 47-member Commission will be to communicate and provide input on Cape Fear Future initiatives, identify and propel important initiatives forward, and help leverage existing efforts and organizations. The Commission includes representatives from New Hanover, Pender and Brunswick County. The goal of Cape Fear Future is to attract and retain knowledge workers and further develop the area’s skilled workforce.

The Commission held its kickoff meeting Tuesday, April 20, where Commission members received an update on the work of the three CFF Task Forces that are focusing on area Quality of Life, Entrepreneurship and Education. Commission members also heard from guest speaker Fred Eshelman (Executive Chairman, PPD, Inc.).

Each of the three focus areas is instrumental in creating an environment that will attract and retain knowledge workers in order to promote sustained economic growth and greater prosperity for the region. Many additional areas of focus have been defined through community input and the work of the consulting group Catalytix, which will be addressed as the process moves forward.

The Quality of Life Task Force, led by Chris Boney (LS3P Associates Ltd.), is developing policies and projects aimed at improving the special characteristics of Wilmington’s unique quality of place in order to attract and retain knowledge workers and businesses. Focus areas include: establishing a consolidated regional effort to enhance and maximize tourism efforts; re-energizing the arts community, and promoting and improving a vibrant downtown.

The Entrepreneurship Action Team, led by Jonathan Rowe (UNCW Entrepreneurship Center), is a catalyst for entrepreneurial growth in Southeastern North Carolina by linking together emerging and high-growth ventures, entrepreneurs, and relevant support organizations to create business growth, jobs, and innovation. CFF will work in partnership with the established UNCW Entrepreneurship Center and others in this effort.

The Education Task Force, led by John Gizdic (NHRMC), will seek to increase involvement and representation of business leaders on educational decision-making committees; establish an assessment of workforce readiness of local students by area businesses; provide advocacy for high quality K-12 education for all students (grass-roots and school board efforts); and enhance STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) education programs and offerings.

“By working toward these enhancements to the region, Cape Fear Future will help ensure that businesses in the region have skilled workers as the Baby Boomers retire and the younger demographic shrinks, and that the area will be a magnet for knowledge-based businesses,” said Chamber President & CEO Connie Majure-Rhett. “The establishment of the Commission is a key part of Cape Fear Future and we are pleased that so many important leaders have stepped forward to serve.”

The Cape Fear Future Commission Kickoff meeting will be available for viewing on the Greater Wilmington Chamber of Commerce (www.wilmingtonchamber.org) and City of Wilmington websites (www.ci.wilmington.nc.us.) beginning April 22.

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