Banking on Wilmington: Study shows area among state's best for investments

As the Wilmington region continues to grow, it’s among North Carolina’s leaders for new investments, according to at least one study.

A study released by SmartAsset shows Brunswick, New Hanover, and Pender counties are ranked in the state’s top 10 in an annual study on places getting the most investments. It looks at factors such as Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth, new businesses, residential real estate and building permits (per 1,000 homes).

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Where did Wilmington-area counties rank?

Pender County leads the three-county area and was ranked second for incoming investments behind Wake County, based on the latest data from SmartAsset. It topped all counties in business growth (80th nationally) and was third in new building permits.

Tammy Proctor, public information officer for Pender County, said the area’s ranking is not a surprise, citing the growth of Pender Commerce Park and work to expand internet infrastructure and water service for future business and residential growth.

Proctor said Pender officials are pleased companies such as FedEx, ACME Fish, and the Berkshire Hathway company of Empire Distributors of N.C. have valued the infrastructure progress, and the accessibility of Pender County.

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Brunswick County ranked third among 100 counties in the state for incoming investments and first in new building permits (19th nationally).

The county remains one of the fastest growing in the state, highlighted by Leland, which has nearly doubled in size during the past decade. The county and its towns are overseeing multiple housing projects and are in early discussions about building a minor league baseball stadium and entertainment venue.

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New Hanover came behind its bordering counties at ninth for incoming investments. Its GDP growth is at $7.54 million, sixth in the state (tops in the area), while new building permits (ninth) and business growth (14th) also ranked in the top 15.

Lisa Wurtzbacher, assistant county manager for New Hanover County, said the county’s five-year strategic plan, which began in 2018, has been a focus area.

“To this end, the board has been working towards leveraging public infrastructure to encourage private investments, increasing diversity and number of high-wage jobs, and encouraging development of complete communities in the unincorporated area of the county,” Wurtzbacher stated. “They have taken measurable actions to ensure these goals are met, including recently approving four incentive packages for business expansion in New Hanover County, approving infrastructure to create Blue Clay Business Park and moving forward with developing a second business park on Holly Shelter Road, and committing to water and sewer in the northern area of the county, just to name a few.”

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Reporter Chase Jordan can be reached at