Businesses have to juggle a lot to stay afloat—permits, taxes, start-up loans, and more. In an economic development report commissioned recently by New Hanover County, "Pathways to Prosperity: New Hanover County's Plan for Jobs and Investment," consultant Jay Garner cautions that small and new businesses must be better supported by the region’s government to spur development. The City of Wilmington and New Hanover County took that recommendation to heart and will be working together to increase practices to help small and new businesses, with the City of Wilmington leading the effort.
Wilmington’s Mayor Pro-Tem, Margaret Haynes, suggests the creation of a specialist to guide business owners:
"Other communities have an ombudsmen of sorts in development and in small business. And they attach themselves to someone and help them through a project or through the question so that you’re not sent to person A and then Person A says you go to Person B, and you go to Person D and Z and F and Q. You have one person, and they tell you what the next step is and how to methodically get through that."
Councilman Charlie Rivenbark recommends that Wilmington loosen the criteria for the city’s incentive program, which currently requires at least a five million dollar investment, while Haynes proposes a stratified approach with various options and incentive rewards.